Texan Iranians are in the news again, this time courtesy of HuffPo and its thorough introduction to contemporary dancer Ida Saki. Born and raised in Dallas, the Tisch School alumnus is a significant name to watch in modern dance, racking up accolades and awards, and even distinguished with having performed for both President Obama and Alicia Keys—a profound combination!
Ms. Saki initially pursued ballet in elementary school, and expanded on her studies with jazz and hip-hop classes at a local studio. Pressed by her parents to balance her studies with her creative interests, the young dancer was entering competitions and performing early on, before eventually joining the notable Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet, a New York City-based company founded in 2003 by Nancy Walton Laurie; interestingly, Laurie is the daughter of Bud Walton, and an heiress to the Walmart fortune.
In alignment with her considerable talents and gifts, Saki has also devoted considerable time and resources to charities, an aspect which has aligned with her upbringing. “Charitable giving was always a part of my family and school,” she says, and volunteered time as a young student pursuant to her status in her school’s National Honor Society. She also began teaching to raise money for charity after a dancer colleague and friend with leukemia passed away, and has since contributed a significant portion of her energies to efforts such as The Ronald McDonald House and Hurricane Sandy relief.
While born and schooled in the U.S., Saki does not shy away from describing the great value resonant in her culture: “From a young age, I felt really connected to my Iranian heritage even though I was so far away from my extended family…Although I live my life day to day as an American, the importance of family, food, music, poetry, and ‘tarof’ or courtesy have been instilled in me through my Iranian roots.”
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