Reaching for Stars
In 1977 when he was only 16, on Bijan Kalantari’s urging, his father sent him to New York to attend school and to learn ballet on an international level. Staying with Bijan Kalantari for the first several months, he was attending high school during the day and open ballet classes in the afternoons. He talks about his early years in New York with sweet sadness. With Iran on the brink of a revolution, his small scholarship covering only a cockroach-infested small room in New York City with salsa-playing Peurto Rican neighbors, he was homesick for Iran and for his family. He auditioned for School of American Ballet in 1978 and was admitted. The prestigious ballet school founded by George Balanchine, the neo-classical ballet legend and Lincoln Kirstein, the New York cultural giant, was the academy established to train and recruit ballet dancers for New York City Ballet.