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Guran: A new version of an ancient Iranian tale performed by AVAZ International Dance Theatre

Iranica Institute at Persepolis-USA Cultural Center is proud to announce the upcoming two performances by AVAZ International Dance Theatre: GURAN (By Jamal)

GURAN-A new vision of an ancient tale, a bitter sweet story of power and politics, the story of the GURAN, the wild zebras of Persia, told through their eyes. Jamal has brought to life a timeless tale of revenge and redemption, an affirmation of life, inspired by the famous quatrain of Omar Khayyam. Jamal spins the ancient fable of the epic encounters between the Guran, and the famous hunter king, Bahram-e Gur, inspired by the thousand-year old tale from the epic history of Persia, the Shah-Nameh, the Book of Kings.

LA Times: "AVAZ spreads its wings and soars to new heights."

Two Performances:

1- In Orange County

Irvine Barclay Theatre
Saturday, November 22, 2003, 8:00 PM
4242 Campus Drive, University of California, Irvine
Tickets: $40.00
Box Office: (949)-4646

2- In Los Angeles County
Freud Theater, UCLA
Saturday, December 13 2:30 & 8:00 PM
Tickets: Saturday Matinee $25.00
Saturday Evening $40.00
Box Office: (310) 825-2101
Music Box: (310) 473-3466

Additional feature:
Dr. Anthony Shay, former artistic director of AVAZ International Dance Theater, will be signing his book,
Choreophobia: Solo Improvised Dance in the Iranian World, during the intermission period and also after the performance. This book has been published by Mazda Publishers, Inc. with a grant from the Iranica Institute/Persepolis-USA Cultural Center. He will also have copies of his recent book Choreographic Politics: State Folk Dances, Representation, and Power (Wesleyan University Press), which was just awarded "Outstanding Scholarly Dance Publication" for 2003 by the Committee on Research in Dance.

The Narrative
Bahram Gur (ruled 420-438 AD), son of Yazdegard I, and a Jewish princess, Shoshandokht, won his throne through an ordeal of killing two lions with a single spear. A famous warrior, his reign became legendary through his battles and hunting prowess. He raised the status of musicians in the Sasanian court. The depiction of Bahram at the hunt is one of the most wide spread images in Persian art adorning Sasanian silver work, miniatures from precious manuscripts from the post-Sasanian ["Islamic"] period, tiles, metalwork, and tapestries. He is often shown with his famous harpist, Azadeh.

Synopsis: In this fairy tale, created by Jamal, the butterfly, a symbol of strength and grace, representing the brief effervescence that is life, has ever been the friend and the historian of the tribe of the Guran. The story opens with an ancient ritual, taken from the friezes of the palace walls, depicting the tribute bearers bringing taxes to the king from the four corners of the vast Sasanian Empire, the priests perform a ceremony of ancient mysteries. As Bahram prepares to hunt, the butterfly chooses characters from among the guran and spins the tale of the deadly encounters between Bahram and the Guran. First they lose one, then another, of their beloved brethren to the deadly arrows of Bahram and his courtiers. The butterfly is desolated that no one heeds her. As she prepares to leave the tribe forever, they realize that they have ignored her attempts to save them. They beseech her one last time to stay and save them.

For this choreography, Jamal has chosen to utilize an original movement vocabulary derived from Iranian folk and classical dance, contemporary dance, and classical ballet. An acknowledged master of classical Persian dance, he originated the concept of creating movements based on Persian calligraphy and has been developing this movement vocabulary over the past decade. In this dance-drama, Jamal incorporates many Iranian customs: weddings, funerals, exorcistic zar ceremonies, and mystic Sufi rituals.

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