The Lost Legend in Pictures

Photo essay & video: Life & times of ballet dancer Afshin Mofid

by Nazy Kaviani
Three thousand people watched the New York City Ballet performance every night, a performance which invariably ended in standing ovations and a crowd that simply did not want to leave the packed New York State Theater. The promising young ballet dancer took his bows, with each bow intensifying the crowd’s applause and noises of approval and adoration, singling him out as “The Star” of the show. [See video "Afternoon of the Faun"]

He was born to a family of artists, poets and writers in 1961. Afshin Mofid was one of two children born to the legendary Bijan Mofid and his wife, Farideh Fardjam, the first female Iranian playwright, prize-winning author, poet, and director. He started ballet training in Tehran when he was nine years old, moving to New York to attend School of American Ballet, becoming the star of New York City Ballet under George Balanchine’s training and direction, and appearing as the star of the New York City Ballet on numerous occasions, nightly packing adoring crowds in the New York State Theater >>> FULL TEXT


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What an Absolutely Beautiful

by BirdSong (not verified) on

What an Absolutely Beautiful Man....


Dear Afshin, When I

by shireen (not verified) on

Dear Afshin,
When I recounted your life story to my mother, she listened so intently, as if I was telling her about my life!
The subject matter changed during the conversation and other things came up, but before she left to go home with my sister she brought the subject up again and said ... "So what are Afshin's plans? Is he happy now? Az taraf-e man behesh kheili salaam beresoon, I'll pray for his success whatever he does."
My mom is 77 and a survivor!
The very Best of Luck (this is from me) Afshin jan.


Just lovely...

by Shabnam_Ghayour on

If only more of us would pursue a beautiful art instead of pursuing celebrity these days, the world would be a better (and more talented) place!  Thanks Nazy joon... Another winner!!!


Thank you

by Stephanie-Afarin (not verified) on

Dear Nazy,

Many many thanks for taking the time to write such an amazingly aspiring article about Afshin. It's delightful to note that his grandparents which he was so distanced by the revolution, loved him so much that kept caring so much to tell you about him. We often forget while we're in exile how our families feel about us and whether they care. The karma that Afshin's family even though couldn't help him back then, now have made such an effect to get him recognized again. Thank you for bringing light to such an amazing person and life. I hope you seize the opportunity to bring light to more of these lost souls.

Dear Afshin,

I'm not sure how you did it. But you're truly spirited and special. I hope you continue to strive for the next big mountain to conquer. Your father is always proud I'm sure.


Thank YOU

by talieshah on

Thank you for sharing your talent with us and also your beautiful life story.  You make us so proud.  I hope we can see more video clips if possible. :-)


lost legend

by mahnaz (not verified) on

hi afshin thanks for the tip.enjoyd your story.even went to the trouble of going to an internet cafe to look it up.thats a big step because you know how i am just not a compüter now that you are famous what are you gonna do?give me a call when you get a chance.take mahnaz.

Afshin Mofid


by Afshin Mofid on

Yes, I am glad you liked the outdoors  pictures.   I have never liked being stereo typed. Thanks for your observation.

Afshin Mofid


by Afshin Mofid on

Thanks for making the story possible. I hope to meet you soon.

Afshin Mofid

Bang man

by Afshin Mofid on

Sorry about your brother.

Afshin Mofid

To all old and new friends

by Afshin Mofid on

You are welcome to e.mail your comments and questions directly to me if you wish. I will answer you but it might take some time.  My e.mail is

Afshin Mofid


by Afshin Mofid on

Thank you Flora, Thank you fro your feed back.

Afshin Mofid


by Afshin Mofid on

Thank you heather.


An artist of true depth and integrity

by Heather_Rastovac on

Thanks to both Nazy and Mr. Mofid for sharing this story. It speaks of the true dedication and emotion that Mr. Mofid has had for his art. His perseverance throughout his challenges as a young person away from his homeland and family, alone in a city such as New York, and in the high pressure world of professional ballet is an inspiration. Greater yet is his ultimate decision to be true to himself and fulfilling his desire to leave that world and live in nature... I am proud of all that you've done, Mr. Mofid. I wish you all of the best.
Heather Rastovac


Like a Thousand Blazing Suns

by Flora (not verified) on

Dear Nazy,

What a tremendous story! Thank you for dissipating the mist of time, by bringing the lost legend of Afshin, like a thousand blazing suns to us! Thank you for digging up such a gem from the buried treasures of our culture and giving him the rightful place he deserves among the stars.

Dear Afshin,

You are a great artist and a great soul. Thank you for sharing the magic and beauty of your life with us.

Afshin Mofid

Dear Azarin

by Afshin Mofid on

You are indeed correct about this.   It was such a great challenge. and I love challenges. It was intoxicating to perform and get good feed back from the press and the audience.  There was definately imense joy associated  with it (on good days!).  But ultimately it was a career that at least initialy was chosen for me.   So it had it's down side after my father's death.  This is a whole article in itself. !   Anyway. I appreciate you and your comments. Thank you for reading the article.      Have a good day.   Afshin.


Bravo! What a story!

by farrad02 on

I never knew! Afshin, you make us all proud!

Niki Tehranchi


by Niki Tehranchi on

I second Azarin's great idea to expand this into a memoir/autobiography, or a documentary.  So unique, so different than the autobiographies you usually find about Iranians.  This would truly be a beautiful and enlightening read.  I will be in line to buy it the second it comes out!


تلاش در پیشبرد و مطرح ساختن هنری نوپا

Universal Thinker in Iran (not verified)

نازی عزیز نگاه درخور شما به زندگی آقای افشین مفید برایم بسیار جذّاب و خواندنی است. آن چه شخصیت ایشان را برای من بیش از پیش قابل تکریم و ستایش می سازد، فراتر از بزرگ شدن در خانواده ای این چنین فرهیخته و اهل هنر و فرهنگ، تلاش بزرگ ایشان در پیشبرد و مطرح ساختن هنری نوپا در آن زمان بوده است. افشین عزیز در نظر من از جمله کسانی بوده که با اصالتی بی نظیر در نگرش و بینش خود به هنر موسیقی در زمان خود موج نویی را پدید آوردند که به تدریج فراگستر شد. تلاش ایشان را با ادای احترام پاس می دارم.ء


Good Lord, what good fortune...!

by sima on

Thank you Nazy for your hard work in finding Afshin for us. No wonder Balanchine was wowed!

And I can't believe we got to see Robbins' Afternoon of a Faun -- Afshin with Suzanne Farrell, no less! He certainly is perfect for the role. A little interesting piece of trivia about this piece is that Jerome Robbins' Ballets performed it at the White House for JFK and wife entertaining the Shah and wife in 1962.

I first heard of Afshin from his fellow dancers at New York City Ballet who had great things to say about him and were sorry to lose him. I've been  hoping to hear more about him for years. Thank  you so much Nazy for tracking him down and for going through all the trouble of getting permission to post the video.

I just can't get over it! Here's to the day Afshin stages this piece, and many others, in Iran... Cheers Afshin jan, thank you!


Thank you!

by Shahriar on

A great story about a great person that I didn't know anythingabout. I have to admit, as a parent, I would have never had the courage of putting my son into ballet classes and push him for a career in dancing. So I have a lot of admiration for Afshin's father.

And Afshin could have been a lost soul in New York as a young man, never to recover, but he proved to be the exact opposite.

Thank you again for bringing into light, the life of a great Iranian.


Nazy, Afshin,

by Midwesty on

Thanks for your story, very inspiring and powerful!

With the Best of Regards

Bang Man

Afshin is name of my brother

by Bang Man on

Lost on 13dah bedar trip …. when he was just 8 years old ...

looking at theses pictures, I like to think there is my AFSHIN. My


Beautiful Brother .....





Orang Gholikhani

Great story

by Orang Gholikhani on

Thanks for sharing.

It made my day to know Afshine's story.

He has always a very known familly name among Iranian, it is the time to give him the value for his First Name his own achievement.

Chapeau bas l'artist.

Azarin Sadegh

Dear Afshin,

by Azarin Sadegh on

Dear Afshin,

Thank you so much to finally give us the chance of knowing you!

As our image in the media (and in general) is getting worse, you seem to be the perfect counter-example to the existing clichés. But to be honest, I would never believe that if you did what you did, it was only to please your parents. No, sorry. I can’t believe it!

How would it even be possible for someone to go through such a rigorous life style, to work so hard for so many years, and to reach the level of success that you actually achieved, without having this fire, this internal fuel, that I would call passion? We are mainly the product of our abilities and not our dreams and desires.

Please don’t underestimate yourself dear Afshin! Without your own talent, perseverance and hard work, you would have never been able to get there. It was just your own fierce quest to create beauty and perfection that made you, and nothing else!

Take care,


Azarin Sadegh

Dear Nazy, you should make it into a memoir...

by Azarin Sadegh on

Dear Nazy,

Such a moving story!

As I read your article and went through the pictures, little by little, I felt immersed in the pure nostalgia, and at the same time, a wonderful idea shaped in my mind: Afshin's unique life story should be written as a memoir! I know you have spent so much time and energy to accomplish this great research, but it could just be the beginning of a new journey for you two.

Thanks again,


Afshin Mofid

thank you

by Afshin Mofid on

Thank you all for your great responses. I am so surprised that people are so interested in my life story.   I am grateful to Nazy Kaviani for tracking me down and wanting to do this story.

Afshin Mofid


by Afshin Mofid on

Hi Niloofar, So great to find you here.  You can contact me at

Alahazrat Hajagha

The Lost Legend

by Alahazrat Hajagha on

After reading this life story I can express myself in two words: Amazing and inspiring. Afshin has lived ahead of his time. He is a legend indeed.

Nazy Kaviani

A story (or two) within a story

by Nazy Kaviani on

Thank you all for the overwhelming reception! Since nothing with me is ever without at least one, but maybe several side stories, I would like to share how I learned about and how I found Afshin Mofid.

In the early 1990's, when we had moved to live in Iran, in my apartment complex in Vanak I lived next door to an elderly couple. The apartment nextdoor was always full of the hustle and bustle of visitors young and old, and I could always hear laughter and music from nextdoor. A few months later, the elderly gentleman passed away, and in the customary tradition of visiting the family of a deceased, my visits to my elderly neighbor produced a beautiful, albeit, short-lived friendship.

She was mother to Mofid brothers and sisters and grandmother to Afshin Mofid. Among the many pictures, stories, and music clips she shared with me of her exceptional children, she showed me her grandson, Afshin Mofid's photograph (photograph 16, above) and told me about his career as a ballet dancer with pride. I never forget the pride, the nostalgia and the longing in her voice and in her face as she talked about her beloved grandson.

A year ago, with the help of internet, I started looking for Afshin Mofid, to see his whereabouts and to learn about him. Other than ballet reviews on The New York Times, there was very little material available online, partly due to his having been at his peak of career in the early 1980's, when information was not archived electronically, but also (now I learn) because the New York City Ballet exercises vigorous copyright requirements on the release of anything having to do with its ballet productions, artists, and such.

In my research I came across the name of Zara Houshmand, who had posted some things about Bijan Mofid on the internet and on I asked Jahanshah for Zara Houshmand's contact details. She gave me Afshin Mofid's email address. I wrote to him and he wrote back:

"Dear Nazy,

No need to apologize for wanting to write about me. I am flattered! I mean, who wouldn't like someone tracking them down and wanting to write about them?!! Maybe I could be famous for another 15 minutes after your article! But seriously, I don't mind it at all. My career as a dancer in New York was at its peak during the early years of the Revolution and consequently not a lot of Iranian immigrants in this country were in a position to even care about such things as ballet or the fine arts in general. So I have been unknown to most. This has always been a sore point for me (but without blaming anyone and understanding the time frame), because even though I received praises from the audiences here and had articles written about me from Newsweek to the Times, there has not been any mention of my work anywhere in the Iranian media be it Farsi or English and no recognition from my own people. So I welcome and appreciate you for wanting to do this. How interesting that you were my beloved grandparents' neighbor! I miss them very much. Was this at the apartment in Vanak? Anyway. You can get in touch with me either by mail or call me on my cell phone or at home."

So, that's how I found him last July, ready to tell his story and to be found! Procuring the videoclip has been made possible through a rare and special authorization from the Jerome Robbins Rights Trust and New York City Ballet, specifically for the purpose of this article on

It has been a labor of love, but one that could not have happened without the generosity of Afshin Mofid himself, and the generous help of Jahanshah Javid.

Thank you all for your kind words. I am sure Dr. Mofid appreciates it as well. Let's all get busy, looking for the other exceptional Iranians as yet unknown to us.

Jahanshah Javid


by Jahanshah Javid on

Thank you for the beautiful story of a beautiful soul. Thank you for documenting and reviving a lost legend indeed.