The Lost Legend

Afshin Mofid with Darci Kistler in New York City Ballet's Afternoon of a Faun, 1982.
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.
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.
While his career and his sensitive and powerful performances in New York City Ballet’s productions were copiously covered in The New York Times and trade publications of note, we never knew about him. It is now time to know about the multi-dimensional and fascinating life of a man with not just one, but hundreds of stories to tell of himself and his accomplished and interesting life.
Afshin Mofid is one of the warmest, most down-to-earth people you would know. He speaks a perfect Farsi, devoid of English words, is affable, articulate, and very funny. He speaks honestly about his achievements, his decisions, his family, his good times and his bad.
"I was nine when I started Ballet in Tehran. I had never seen ballet before in my life. My uncle, Ardavan Mofid, was friends with Bijan Kalantari, who was a ballet dancer and a choreographer himself, and wanted to start the first Iranian ballet company from ground up, entirely with Iranian dancers, hoping to be able to perform internationally. Of the 14 students in the newly founded ballet program at Tehran's Music Conservatory (Honarestan-e-Ali-e-Moosighi), there were 12 girls and only two boys. I was one of them."
This story was published in Iranian.com today. If you can't access it in Iranian.com, you can read the rest here. Please leave any comments you might have primarily in Iranian.com for the artist to see, or here. Enjoy!


Mina said...

Hi Nazi Joon,
So that was your dance story you were busy with for so long. I'm really glad you did it. It may sound strange, but dancing is a man's art.
While you are at it, see if you can find any trace of a good dancer named Bijan Emami. He should be around 65 years old by now. Anyhow, they should all receive an acknowledgment. They were pioneers. A bravo to all of them!

nasim said...

Salaam Nazy jan,
I just read your article on Iranian.com. I want to thank you for such a fascinating job! It was a really fantastic article! It is almost hard to believe that this story is real! Afshin has the spirit of a true artist.

Nazy said...

Salam Mina Jan:

Happy Valentine's Day To You!

I am really embarrassed I haven't replied to your kind email of this past weekend. I will get to it now that my work on the complicated piece is finished. Yes, it did take up a lot of time, because of the many photographs, videoclip, authorizations, technical stuff I couldn't begin to understand, and of course the text itself, the research, and the "tweaking's" necessary when you are writing someone else's life's story.

The story also had me emotionally tied up, because I wanted to do it justice. Afshin Mofid's story had even more twists and turns and tidbits than I have written about, and though I had to learn and write about all of them, those bits were removed to reflect more on the artist himself as opposed to his stellar parents and family, for example.

It's done and I'm delighted. I will look into Bijan Emami, for sure! But I will need some time to recover and then to do a fascinating Iranian stage actress's story first. But all of that will have to wait until after I have replied to your and some other kind emails I have to do first!

Be good Minaye azizam. I know I keep saying this, but I truly respect you and your writing. In my book, you are a Class A Iranian.

Best wishes to Evan for a Happy Valentine's Day!

Nazy said...

Salam Nasim Jan:

I am so glad you liked the story! You will also like Afshin Mofid in person, as he is a truly remarkable man. He has promised to come visit soon. When he does, you will get to meet him upclose!

He has been so gracious to me (after I lost my notes and hid for a long time!), and very cooperative. It is always wonderful to work with someone who wants his story heard. He is amazing.

This story is as real as it gets! Afshin's ballet school friends and hunting partners are going in droves to Iranian.com, leaving testimonials there as we speak! I am so delighted and so very relieved. It is time for me to celebrate this little project right about now! Goodnight and Happy Valentine's Day my sweet scientist friend!

nasim said...

that would be fascinating! I would love to see him if he comes here.
you know his story is very inspiring in many aspects.

Anonymous said...

Salam nazy jan
va khaste nabashi!
Do you know if Bahman mofid is related to this family?



Nazy said...

Salam Nasim Jan:

Indeed! And he is so modest, he wrote to me to say: "I didn't know the story of my life was interesting!"

Yes, it's a date my sweet friend!

Nazy said...

Salam Marzieh Jan:

Thank you! I feel great that it's done! Now I don't know how to tease you guys anymore!!!

Yes. Mr. and Mrs. Mofid had several children, Bijan, Bahman, Ardavan, Hooman, Hengameh, and Gordafarid. Except for Gordafarid (though I'm not entirely sure about her), all of them became artists, some more famous than others, but all accomplished artists just the same.

I'm glad you followed the story to the end! Shoma khasteh nabashin az dast-e man! Thank you for coming to visit again my friend.

Assal said...

I think the reason why I like this so much is because he is so open to having his story heard. I love that. The pictures are truly amazing and make me think of so many talented Iranians out there whose names and faces we will probably never know. I hope you find more of them and bring us their stories. You have a great eye for talent and a knack for finding people and bringing the best stories out of them.

THANKS for introducing us to this artist. I am off to Iranian.com to see the full thing!

Nazy said...

Assal Jan:

You are so right! There are Iranians in all walks of life, living abroad or inside Iran, about whom we never hear.

One of my dearest friends, a half-Iranian-half-French woman, told me that her grandfather was Nasseredin Shah's personal tailor who went with him to France one time and stayed on, building a life and a family there close to 100 years ago! Wouldn't it be grand to write that story?!

Alas, I let her do it herself, as she is a very accomplished author and poet herself, with many books to her credit.

My lucky stroke with this subject was that he wanted to be found and he gave me his time and resources voluntarily and generously. Considering none of us get paid to do all of this, it really helps when the subjects of stories are willing to cooperate.

I knew of a man who has passed away now, but who was a passenger flight pilot working in the US 50 years ago. Even ordinary people can become very interesting subjects if they have led a life of challenges and adversities.

If you can, I would really appreciate it if you could leave a comment for Dr. Mofid on Iranian.com, because he is answering to some comments there himself, giving the audience a chance to interact with him. Ask him any questions you might have or just tell him that you are happy to have found him!

Writers can write about subjects that move and mobilize them, but the true story, the true recognition, belongs to the men and women who lived those lives and accomplished those achievements.

Thanks for your continued presence and support Assal-e-Azizam. On the day you were born, my eyes were two of the very first ones your eyes met! My eyes continue to follow you with my heart through all that you do and are, for in my eyes, you yourself are one of the most extraordinary Iranians I have ever met. Be happy azizam and Happy Valentine's Day.

Daisy said...

I'm speechless. I enjoyed every word of it. The real lives stories are always interesting to read but this particular one was special. I'm so touched. As you know I'm not that familiar with Bijan Mofid's masterpiece (shahr-e-gheseh). But I heard about him and his talent on so many occasions. Knowing about his talented son was very interesting.

Sometimes people reach the highest level in their professional career but that doesn't guaranty happiness or fulfillment. Life is a strange thing, don't you think? I'm happy that the story had a happy ending and Afshin Mofid is content about his current situation and he achieved his new goals. I wish him health and success for the rest of his life. He's one of the Iranian that makes me proud to call myself Iranian.
As for you nazy jon, I'm impressed with your hard work and you trying to introduce “a lost legend” to people like me. Thank you

P.S. Listening to shahr-e-gheseh is on my list.

Sorry I was late. I was very busy this week. Though I didn't show to leave a comment, I was visiting you. Happy Valentine's Day to you too. I'm really tired now and have to go to bed. I think I'll not make it to go to your previous post to leave this comment and wish you a wonderful Valentine (it's almost over by now anyway). Now I'm just rambling. Good night

Leila said...

Thank you Nazi joon! for such a wonderful narration and great pictures.
Happy Valentine. For me being in love is the best thing that I have in my life.

ا. ش. said...

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.

آدم گلابی said...

what an amazing character and what a great storyteller,
نمی دونم این آدم و سبک نوشتنت چه حسی داره که منو پرت می کنه تو یک خلسه غم آلود شیرین
مرسی نازی جان و خوب و خوش باشی

نیلوفر said...

Hi Nazy jan , I am coming here every day . I love to read your daily stories but i am sorry if i didn't say anything for a long time.I was in a bad mood . I am sure you know that it is not easy to live in a foreign country . I am overwhelmed with my daily stories :-)

Nazy said...

Dear Sweet Daisy:

Thank you so much for that kind and heartfelt comment. Khasteh nabashi azizam.

Yes, life is strange sometimes! Happiness is seldom where material things and achievements are,I am convinced now. It is where a heart feels content and peaceful. Afshin Mofid sounds so content and peaceful with his life, and that's a beautiful thing not too many people learn early enough to be able to enjoy.

Be good and happy and have a fabulous Sunday, Daisy Jan.

Nazy said...

Salam Bar Leila In Love:

How fabulous my friend! To be in love is the best gift God can ever give anybody, that's what I think.

I'm glad you enjoyed the story. I'm really happy about it, too.

Nazy said...

Salam Bar Alef Shin-e Mehraban:

Thank you so much for your kind and poignant comment. Your approval means so much to me.

I believe everybody has a story. Not all of us reach the pinnacle of success the way some others do, but even in our seemingly simple and ordinary lives, we each have a story that can be told to others and which can attract their attention just the same.

Afshin Mofid's story is interesting because he lived that amazing successful life and then he lived an ordinary life, and he prefers his ordinary life to his star-status life. That is a wonderful achievement of human spirit in my opinion.

Thank you again for honoring me with your presence. Take care.

Nazy said...

Salam Bar Golabi Jan:

Thank you my friend! I am glad you enjoyed the story. Coming from a good writer such as yourself, that compliment means something special to me.

I hope you are having a good weekend my friend.

Nazy said...

Salam Niloofar Jan:

Yes, I know how hard it is to move to a new place, with new surroundings, and new people, leaving all that we knew about behind. I always say when you move to a new country, it takes you about three years before you can pull your head above the water and take a breath!

All I can say is that it appears to me that you are doing a very good job of it, even if you have days that don't feel perfect. Just hang in there and keep on trying.

Thank yo so much for coming to visit me regularly my friend. I am honored and touched. Have a beautiful weekend my friend.