“Women of Iran” Event on May 18

The Presidio Performing Arts Foundation has announced plans for its upcoming 25th Anniversary Spring Gala on Thursday, May 18, distinguished by Presidio Dance Theatre’s performance Honoring the Women of Iran at the Herbst Theatre, followed by a benefit dinner in the Green Room at the Civic Center’s iconic Veterans Building, 401 Van Ness Avenue.

The evening’s performance and benefit dinner are in support of the Presidio Performing Arts Foundation’s educational programs and the Center for Human Right in Iran.

Beginning at 5 p.m., the two-act performance will include a company retrospective combining signature dance pieces with video testimonials highlighting 25 years of justice through dance. The second act will feature the world premiere of a new social justice ballet work choreographed by Presidio Dance Theatre’s Executive and Artistic Director, Iranian American artist, Sherene Melania. Melania’s new work will be streamed for UNESCO’s World Dance Congress in Athens on July 5.

The creation of this new ballet is influenced by the ongoing Iranian government’s volatile crackdown on the social freedoms of women and girls, generating an international outcry and slogan of resistance: Woman Life Freedom. The choreography is based in Melania’s signature style of ethno- classical ballet style, with elements of contemporary dance and theatre. The music is a blend of contemporary and traditional Iranian pieces. The high voltage dance explores the Islamic Republic’s egregious violence and oppression of women, reflecting the contrasts of life and death, hope and despair. It is the story of “shir zan,” lion woman or lioness, and carried through generations since ancient times, a woman’s unbreakable spirit that will continue to fight until light overcomes darkness.

Sherene Melania said, “Omar Khayyam once wrote, ‘justice is the soul of the universe,’ and what better way to feed the soul than through dance? As an Iranian American, the current civic struggle is deeply personal to me. In response, I am proud to create a dance piece that will amplify the voices of the women of Iran, supporting their fight for freedom. While it is impossible to capture the gravity of

the horrific reality, we will explore themes of: oppression, pain and loss, mixed with hope, highlighting tremendous strength, resilience, and beauty of all Iranian women.”

“Additionally, I am very honored to welcome Lily Samii as our spring season artistic advisor,” continued Sherene Melania. “She has been a fantastic mentor and great inspiration. She is a remarkable artist and has been instrumental in the creation of this production. Her amazing artistic eye has been invaluable in overseeing costume and scenic design. I’m deeply grateful for all of her expertise and support!”

Hadi Ghaemi, Executive Director of the Center for Human Right in Iran commented, “Now more than ever, as Iranian women continue to find creative and daring ways to demand basic and fundamental human rights, including the right to freedom of expression through the art of dance, it is crucial for all of us to continue supporting them by amplifying their voices and stories, and showing our solidarity in every way we can. I wish to thank the Presidio Performing Arts Foundation for their support.”

Following the performance, guests will adjourn to the historic Green Room at 7 p.m. where they will be treated to a cocktail reception and sumptuous dinner of traditional Iranian food under the culinary direction of the acclaimed Orchid Persian Catering organization.