Mayn Zard has appeared at the Kurdish Festival in Mexico. It has performed at the Canadian Parliament, during a celebration marking Newroz. Photo courtesy of Mostafa Nosrati
By Ava Homa
TORONTO, Canada – Without funds and relying only on volunteer dancers, Toronto-based engineer Mostafa Nosraty has beaten the odds to showcase the beauty of Kurdish dance to audiences in Canada and Mexico, and has invitations to perform in the United States and Europe.
Mayn Zard, a Kurdish dance group founded by the Iranian-born Kurd in 2010, has used creativity and determination to offer new choreographies every few months, while remaining true to the core of Kurdish dance.
The troupe has shined for three years across Canada, presenting the beauty of Kurdish dance, music, and garments to enthusiastic audiences.
At the “60x60 Dance” talent show in Toronto, the word “Kurd” was mentioned for the first time and raised a lot of curiosity and admiration, after a performance by Mayn Zard. The International Lions Clubs praised the dance, the dancers and their background, and raised awareness about the situation of the Kurds.
Nosraty, 40, is originally from Sanandaj (Sina), in Iranian Kurdistan. With degrees in industrial engineering and management, he has worked at oil companies and held managerial positions at international firms.
I love to show to the Western world that there are beauties in Kurdistan that they are not aware of.
“I love to show to the Western world that there are beauties in Kurdistan that they are not aware of. My interchange/exchange of culture with them will also help enrich my culture,” he said.
“In the West, the picture portrayed of the Middle East is very politically-oriented, a muddy, distorted and reductive view. Kurdish culture is mainly unknown, since it’s not been presented as an independent identity, rather under geographical boundaries.”
Through halparke – a Kurdish dance – the group reveals an often ignored image of Kurdistan, one associated with glory and solidarity instead of misery and oppression.
Mayn Zard has appeared at the Kurdish Festival in Mexico. It has performed at the Canadian Parliament, during a celebration marking Newroz.
The dancers have also been invited to perform in the United States, at a Kurdish Youth Festival and a Middle Eastern Conference in New York. There have also been invitations from Sweden, to perform for the World Kurdish Congress. But the invitations could not be honored for lack of funds.
Despite the empty pockets and meagre support he receives from the Kurdish community, Nosraty has refused to give up the independence of his group. Mayn Zard only battles cultural barriers and is not politically-oriented.
“Mayn Zard has been founded based on the passion, hard work and expense of its founder and the genuine support and efforts of its members. It is fully independent and has no affiliation, whatsoever, to any person, group, or association.”
Fascinated by the energy and solidarity exhibited through Kurdish dance, Nosraty travelled around Kurdistan as a teenager to learn the dances of various regions.
I ask myself, ‘what is my role in the world as a Kurd.’ Kurdishness is important to me because, despite our ancient history and rich culture, we are still ruled by others
“In Toronto, I saw the necessity and felt the time was just right for following my dream. I guess I knew that I would eventually do dance training; at least I had imagined so.” Nosraty said.
But, what does Kurdishness mean to this devoted individual and why is it so important for him to present his culture to the world?
“I ask myself, ‘what is my role in the world as a Kurd.’ Kurdishness is important to me because, despite our ancient history and rich culture, we are still ruled by others and in the direction of their profits. What we have is working for others and what we don’t have is used against us.”
Despite his achievements, Nosraty spoke to Rudaw about the many obstacles he has faced in pursuing his dream of providing outsiders a glimpse into the beauties of Kurdish culture.
“In Canada, nothing is given for free and we have to pay for everything from our own pocket,” he explained. “We have no Kurdish government or any organization that is concerned about Kurdish culture, and so there’s no support,” he added.
“Not many of the Kurds in diaspora, for various reasons, are interested in their roots. This has limited the number of individuals attending the classes. Also, life in Canada is not easy and people are engaged in their own daily life. They hardly find free time to put in a dance class and stay committed to it. Having no money to pay the dancers for their time and efforts, you may imagine how difficult it is to lead a successful group.”