On Saturday April 6th, 1996, the Iranian-American Cultural Association (IACA) organized a "Nowrouz Ballet Soiree" in collaboration with the Washington School of Ballet. More than 500 people attended, most of them Iranians.
Chelsea Clinton, President Clinton's daughter, was among the dancers. President Clinton and his wife, Hillary, were also present. After the event the Voice of America interviewed President Clinton.
By Sabi Behzadi
I left the auditorium for a moment before the performance. When I was returning to my seat, I saw a mob of press people waiting behind the closed doors. The performance fired away with it's brilliant sound, light, color, choreography and the music began the evening in a beautiful setting.
The stage had my total attention to the point of feeling goose bumps on my arms. Suddenly, my friend next to me said President Clinton and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton were among the audience.
This was no surprise to me due to the appearance of the press and the Secret Service agents. Besides, I knew Chelsea, is a student at the Washington Ballet Company and was among the dancers that evening.
But even with Chelsea's performance, many were curious as to why the Clintons' would show up at an Iranian function, given the present (lack of) political relations between Iran and the United States. And yet the general feeling was positive and most found it a pleasure to see the Clintons.
Many went up to the President and the First Lady to shake their hands. One woman spoke highly of the Clintons and was enthusiastic about organizing the National Iranian Democratic group to campaign for the upcoming presidential election.
Spirits were high and I must say the performance was remarkable. Chelsea danced in "Persian Moon," which was the third performance of the evening.
The two talented choreographers, Lorraine Audeoude Spiegler and Rudolf Kharatian, presented a gift to the Iranian-American audience. Some of the contemporary dance pieces were choreographed to sounds of Persian music by Bijan Mortazavi and Hossein Alizadeh.
The collaboration of cultures and artistic talent brought together a simple message to the audience of both worlds. It conveyed the offerings of both the East and the West. This collaborative in this evening's spectacle revealed that there are many ideas yet to be sought from the merging cultures of Iran and the West.
Reporter Guity Sedaghat: ... The dance recital was sponsored by the Iranian-American Cultural Association, a volunteer organization of Iranian-Americans dedicated to the celebration and preservation of Persian culture in the United States.
The Clinton's daughter, Chelsea, was among the performers from the Washington Ballet Company and the Washington School of Ballet, who danced to the music of two Iranian musicians, Bijan Mortazavi and Hossein Alizadeh.
At the end of the performance, President Clinton said the dance recital provided an opportunity for those present to get better acquainted with the Iranian culture.
President Clinton: First of all it was a wonderful recital and I was glad that my daughter and the other children were being able to be in it with some of the older dancers. But it was a great opportunity for them to learn about Iranian culture. It was a wonderful opportunity for the dancers, as well as for all of us in the audience.
Sedaghat: President Clinton said the recital also strengthens the cultural ties between the two countries.
President Clinton: I think it brings the two cultures closer together. I think any time people learn to appreciate the way other people express themselves, they come closer to putting themselves in the other person's shoes and the feeling and seeing the world the way they do. That is a very good thing.