Hi, I’m Mahsa. I was born and raised in Shiraz, Iran. My family migrated to the US in 1983. For the past 20 years I have made my home in Oaxaca City, México where I am Mamá to a 14 year-old (going on 16).

Independent scholar and folklorist

As part of the Iranian Diaspora of two countries, I have learned to adapt and thrive in vastly different realities.  My BA in Environmental Science from UC Berkeley and MS in Wetlands Ecology at UC Davis led me to work in water conservation projects in Mexico for many years. With time my Pisces fish, exploring different directions, led me to other waters:

Recent Activities

Documenting the folk dance sequences I learned during travels throughout 14 provinces in Iran (2008 to 2022)

Director of Luna Llena Danzas (2000 to 2017)

Co-director and Co-founder of Amate Aprendizaje Vivo: an alternative learning center (2017 – 2020).

Programmer of cultural experiences at Journeys Beyond the Surface, Oaxaca

Folk Dance Experiences
Culture shock at 15 &16 wasn’t so strong at Fort Collins High School in Colorado mainly due to my modern dance instructor/ fairy godmother, Diana Congdon. She encouraged my passion, and I responded with choreographies to Laurie Anderson’s Big Science and Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells. She also gave me my first taste of staging a piece to Iranian music for a school event representing festivities around the world.

After two years in Colorado we moved to Gainesville, Florida where I felt like an outsider at Buchholz High. One Friday night, I ventured to the University of Florida gym for a session with the UF International Folk dancers. Folk dances spanning the Middle East, the Balkans, Europe and the Americas brightened my world and became my passion. I also attended monthly Square and Contra dancing and found joy at international folk dance camps accompanied by the folk dancers who had become my second family for three years.

Years later at UC Davis, I was a performing member of Danzantes del Alma, a Mexican folk dance troupe. Once I moved to México, long-term workshops in Guinean and AfroCuban dances came my way. The more I learned dances from other countries, the more I yearned to learn the dances of Iran’s many linguistic groups. 

Since 2008, I traveled throughout Iran documenting dance among diverse linguistic groups. I have taken private lessons from female instructors, observed and interviewed male folk dance troupes and attended festivities throughout the country.

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