Delshodeh is a performance group dedicated exclusively to the dance aesthetics and dance traditions of the Persian-speaking world. This includes the dance styles of Iran, Tajikistan, and Afghanistan. The ensemble’s repertoire includes dance pieces set to contemporary Persian (Iranian) classical music, traditional reng (classical Persian music meant for dance), regional folk dances of Iran, classical Tajik dance set to mystical Sufi poetry, regional dances of Kulob and Badakhshan (the Pamirs) in Tajikistan, and regional and national dances of Afghanistan.
The group was formed in 2007 by artistic directors, Sonja Hinz and Heather Rastovac. Delshodeh blossomed from Sonja and Heather’s years of experience with and love for Persian and Central Asian dance, as well as from the inspiration they received while studying dance in Tajikistan. Heather and Sonja are local dancers known for their Persian dance performances as soloists and as part of Shourangeez Persian music and dance ensemble, which participated in the “Folklife in the Schools” program across Western Washington from 2001 – 2004. After studying, performing, and teaching Iranian, Central Asian, and Near Eastern dances for a decade, Heather and Sonja founded Delshodeh with the aim of presenting a unique and modern view of Persian and Central Asian dance that is still firmly rooted in historical and regional dance traditions.
Along with Heather and Sonja, Delshodeh is comprised of dancers Amanda Rietz, Adrian Laine, Maria LaFrance, Maria Stavrakas, Elham Hakimi, Kolby LaBree, and Molly Porter.
During 2006 and 2007, both artistic directors lived and studied dance in Tajikistan. Sonja completed fieldwork during this time for her Master’s thesis on dance and spirituality in Tajikistan; she received a Master’s degree in Dance Ethnology from the University of Hawaii in May 2007. Heather received her Bachelor’s degree in Persian Language and Literature, with minors in Dance and Anthropology from the University of Washington in June 2008, and she is currently pursuing a Doctorate degree in Performance Studies from the University of California at Berkeley.
Delshodeh is currently under the direction of Sonja Hinz, while Heather Rastovac takes a leave of absence to pursue a doctorate degree in Performance Studies at the University of California, Berkeley.