Woman, Life, Art: In Conversation with Haydeh Changizian and Soheila Sokhanvari

Key information

6:00 pm to 8:00 pm
Brunei Gallery, SOAS
Brunei Gallery Lecture Theatre (BGLT)

About this event

Iranian Prima Ballerina Haydeh Changizian and British-Iranian artist Soheila Sokhanvari (currently in a solo exhibition at the Barbican until 26 February 2023), will be in conversation with Katy Shahandeh (SOAS), discussing their art, inspirations, aspirations, and the challenges they have faced as Iranian women artists.

About the speakers

Haydeh Changizian the renowned Iranian Prima Ballerina was born in Tehran on 18th June 1945.  She began her ballet education at the Ballet School of Yelena Avedisian in Tehran,  later studying ballet in Germany at the Institute für Bühnentanz in Köln and, in 1964, continuing her studies in Leningrad at the famed Vaganova Choreographic School of the world-famous Kirov Ballet.  She danced with the Frankfurt Opera Ballet as a soloist, before returning to Iran in 1972 to join the Iranian National Ballet company as its prima ballerina in leading roles in Scheherazade, Nutcracker, Giselle, La Bayadere, Don Quixote, Fountain of Bakhchisarai, Bijan and Manijeh, Coppelia, La Fille Mal Gardee and The Witch Boy.

In 1978 Changizian established a new ballet company, the Niavaran Cultural Dance Company, which had the sponsorship of the Niavaran Cultural Centre. In the same year she founded the Haydeh Changizian Ballet Institute, a collaboration with the Royal Academy of Dance in London and its Artistic Director, Sir John Field.  This project was terminated after the Iranian Revolution (1978-79), when ballet became prohibited in the country.  Changizian left Iran for the US, assembling a company of 35 dancers, and presented her first ballet performance in LA: In Memory of Roudaki Hall.  This was followed by engagements with the Santa Barbara Ballet as guest artist in Giselle and Sleeping Beauty. She was the founder and director of Haydeh Changizian Dance Centre and Anahita Arts and Dance Cultural Centre dedicated to presenting Iranian Art and exhibitions for Iranian Artists.

Soheila Sokhanvari is a British/Iranian artist, born in Shiraz whose multimedia work cultivates a non-uniform practice and her works deal with the contemporary political landscape with a focus on pre-revolutionary Iran. She is drawn to events and traumas that linger in the collective consciousness or cause mass amnesia.  Faced with political events and traumas of contemporary Iranian politics that are impossible to represent, she draws with Iranian crude oil on paper that allows the medium to carry the political message.  She also employs the medieval technique of egg tempera on vellum by grinding colour pigments and mixing with egg yolk.

Soheila Sokhanvari first graduated in Biochemistry in 1986 and worked as a Research Scientist for Cambridge University. She took a leap of faith to follow her dreams and graduated with a degree in Fine Art and Art History in 2005 from Anglia Ruskin University, a postgraduate Diploma in Fine Art from Chelsea College of Art and Design in 2006 and MFA Fine Art from Goldsmiths College in 2011. She is presently exhibiting in a solo show Rebel Rebel at the Barbican Curve Gallery, that ends on 26th of Feb 2023.  She has been selected as one of 22 artists for a public arts commission for Victoria Station, London by the Tate and the London Mayor in 2018. She has exhibited nationally and internationally and is in National and international museum as well as Private collections, like LACMA in LA and The New Art Gallery, Walsall.

See Soheila's current exhibition 'Rebel Rebel' at the Barbican

Katy Shahandeh is a British-Iranian academic and researcher based at SOAS, University of London.  Her academic interests are Middle Eastern (with an emphasis on Iran) art, history, culture and society, and her research, based on the works of contemporary Iranian women artists, is located around issues of gender, identity, and society, and informed by feminist and post-colonial theory. She has presented papers at many international conferences and has contributed to a volume published by Routledge entitled “Curating as Feminist Organizing” (2022), as well as online publications.

Read Katy Shahandeh's latest article about Soheila


This event will take place in-person and will not be recorded. Seating is limited and is on a first-come, first-served basisRegister via Eventbrite.

Organiser: Centre for Iranian Studies, SOAS and the SOAS Iranian Society

A Dream Deferred (Portraint of Haydeh Changizian), 2022. Artwork © copyright Soheila Sokhanvari.

A Dream Deferred (Portraint of Haydeh Changizian), 2022.

Artwork © copyright Soheila Sokhanvari.