Banafsheh Sayyad

Meet the founder of Dance of Oneness®

Banafsheh is a master sacred dancer and living legend. She has dedicated her life to empowering people around the world to embody love.

Her students regard her as a highly accessible and profound spiritual teacher. An inspiring example of radiant embodiment, her teaching is considered life changing.

Audiences experience her as a Sufi priestess, bringing the presence and power of ancient priestesses to life through her dynamic performances.

Part whirling darvish, part flamenco femme fatale, sensuous and audacious, Banafsheh’s dance is a mesmerizing foray into the body as trance mechanism; a DNA strand, supple, fluid and noble, come to life.
– Los Angeles Times

A trailblazing pioneer

Internationally known for her groundbreaking choreography, Banafsheh invokes the ancient roots of dance as devotion, prayer, and adoration. An innovator of Sufi dance previously only performed by men, she represents the timeless Divine Feminine inside a contemporary gypsy darvish, beckoning us to live with passion, wildness, and reverence.
As one of the bearers of authentic Persian dance and a trail blazer in contemporary performance, she gives voice and expression to oppressed women especially those living in Islamic cultures.
Her explosive, fluid movement is sensual and ritualistic, uniting feminine and masculine, body and soul, light and dark in a marriage of opposites. Watch Banafsheh Dance
Banafsheh, a font of exquisite perpetual motion, is a
temple frieze come to life…she is a master of Persian,
Flamenco and Tai Chi movement.
– Los Angeles Times
A deeper dive into Banafsheh’s life
Background

Born in Iran, Banafsheh comes from a lineage of pioneering performing artists. Her father is the legendary Iranian filmmaker, theater director and actor, Parviz Sayyad. Hailed as the Charlie Chaplin of Iran, he is the most famous Iranian of his time.

Banafsheh has danced all her life. She boldly forged a career in dance despite resistance from her family and a patriarchal culture that considered dance shameful. Her spiritual quest began at a young age leading her to the Gurdjieff Work, the Sufi Path, and to uncovering the hidden path of the Divine Feminine.

MFA in Dance & Choreography

Banafsheh holds a Master of Fine Arts from UCLA. She studied with some of the great dance masters including Antonia Rojos, Victoria Marks, David Rousseve and Donna Uchizono. She has taught Persian dance at UCLA and is a recipient of the prestigious James Irvine Foundation grant in Dance.

Acupuncturist & Herbalist

Banafsheh’s search to find Divinity in the body and the healing dimensions of movement led her to Taoist teachings, Chinese Medicine, Tai Chi and Chi Gong. An Acupuncturist and Herbalist, she incorporates an understanding of meridians or pathways of energy, acupoints, as well as the Chakras into her teaching.

International Touring

Banafsheh’s solo and ensemble work with her dance company, NAMAH has been presented extensively in festivals and by dance presenters in North America, Europe and Australia to tremendous audience and critical acclaim.

Dance Film, In the Fire of Grace

Her dance film In the Fire of Grace with author and scholar, Andrew Harvey traces Rumi’s journey of the Soul in dance.

Banafsheh’s body moved in a trance, exuding a supernatural power as the vortex which seemed to take her surrendered body higher and higher became a perceptible portal for the audience.
– Badische Zeitung, Germany

Birth of Dance of Oneness®

In her quest to create a path in sacred dance that could encompass the many layers of being human and bring people into wholeness, Banafsheh created Dance of Oneness in 2005. She received this name while whirling.

I created Dance of Oneness to encourage people to love their bodies and love themselves, and to live as messengers of love in the world, because love is all there is.
– Banafsheh

She combined her expertise in Flamenco, Tai Chi, Persian and contemporary dance, trance and whirling and her experience in Gurdjieff Work and the Sufi Path with her skill as a Chinese Medical practitioner to birth Dance of Oneness® which fuses 3 dimensions: dance and movement; wisdom teachings, and healing. Read more about Dance of Oneness®.


Banafsheh has taught Dance of Oneness® online and in person to thousands of people across the world at places like Esalen Institute, Multiversity, Kripalu Center, Omega Institute, The Rowe Center, Menla Retreat Center, The Dance Center at Columbia College, Chicago, Hollyhock and Schweibenalp Center of Unity among others.

What People Say about Banafsheh...

Invite Banafsheh to perform, speak or teach at your event

Banafsheh is available for solo performances with recorded or live music with 1 to 5 musicians. She also performs with noted Rumi scholar and author, Andrew Harvey.

She is also available as guest dancer with dance companies and music ensembles, and for choreography commissions.

Banafsheh is also available for speaking engagements, lecture/demonstrations, and workshops on topics such as Conscious Embodiment, Sacred Dance, Persian Dance, Rumi, Sufism, Dance of Oneness, Divine Feminine Embodiment, and Women’s Empowerment in the Middle East.