Actor Ballet dancer Choreographer Dancer Singer

Sussan Deyhim

Quick Facts

IntroIranian musician
Is Dancer
Choreographer
Ballet dancer
Actor
Singer
From Iran
Type Dancing
Film, TV, Stage, Radio
Music
Genderfemale
BirthTehran

Biography

Sussan Deyhim is an Iranian composer, vocalist, performance artist and activist.

Early life

From 1971 (at age thirteen) to 1975, she was part of Pars National Ballet in Iran, affiliated with Persian National Television, and she traveled all across Iran studying with master folk musicians and dancers. In 1976, she joined The Bejart Ballet in Europe after receiving a scholarship to attend Bejart’s performance art school Mudra where she was trained in many of the great world, dance, music and theater traditions as well as in classical ballet. Her music remains true to the spirit of her ancient heritage while pointing to the future with a very personal and poetic dramatic sensibility.

Career and Musical style

Deyhim is internationally known for creating a unique sonic and vocal language imbued with a sense of ritual and the unknown.

In 1980, she moved to New York City, embarking on a multifaceted career encompassing music, theatre, dance, media and film. She created/starred in ground breaking media operas at La Mama in the 1980s including Azax/ Attra and The Ghost of Ibn Sabah. In 2007 she moved to southern California. In 2010, the LA Times critic Mark Swed called her “one of Iran’s most potent voices in exile for the simple reason that she possesses a marvelously potent voice.” In 2015, in tribute to the Iranian poet Forough Farrokhzad (d.1967), she created The House is Black, which she performed at UCLA, and Dawn of the Cold Season, a performance installation at the Shulamit Gallery in Venice, California.

Deyhim’s wide-ranging collaborations with leading artists from across the spectrum of contemporary art have included Ornette Coleman, Bobby McFerrin, Peter Gabriel, Bill Laswell, Richard Horowitz, Rufus Wainwright, Marius De Vries, Hal Wilner, Mickey Hart, Branford Marsalis, Jerry Garcia, Will Calhoun, Karsh Kale, Doug Wimbish, Keith LeBlanc, Skip McDonald, Jah Wobble, Talvin Singh, Adrian Sherwood and The Blue Man Group and with prominent female visual artists Shirin Neshat, Sophie Calle and Lita Albuquerque.

Her composition “Windfall/Beshno Az Ney” was recently used by U2 throughout the US and Europe in U2’s 360 tour in one of the largest scale tock tours to this day. “Beshno Az Ney” is an intro to U2’s “Sunday Bloody Sunday” a moving number in solidarity with Iran’s Green movement. Deyhim has performed with international orchestras such as the Polish Radio Orchestra and the Kraków Philharmonic and has received commissions as a composer from international ensembles such as Bang On A Can. She has performed her music at Lincoln Center Summer Festival, Carnegie Recital Hall, the Royal Albert Hall, The Old Vic, the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Royce Hall and many other major venues.

Her label Venus Rising Records has released five new albums of her works on film, multi media and recent collaborations.

Activism

Deyhim has been a frequent participant at humanitarian events and benefits, including a performance at the gathering of the spiritual leaders of the world at the United Nations General Assembly in 2001; the first Gathering of Female Spiritual Leaders in Geneva at the United Nations and the Royal Hope Gala in the Royal Albert Hall, London, England with Plácido Domingo, The Royal Ballet and many others, for medical aid to Iraqi children. In 2009, she performed in a sold-out concert at the UN General Assembly organized by Pakistan’s biggest rock musician and activist, Salman Ahmad to raise funds for misplaced children in Pakistan with other participants such as Jeffrey Skoll, Bobby Sager and Gavin Rossdale.

Solo recordings

Deyhim’s solo recordings include:

  • Madman of God]: Divine Love Songs of the Persian Sufi Masters (Crammed Discs)
  • Shy Angels (with Bill Laswell) (Crammed Discs)

Her recordings with Richard Horowitz include:

  • Majoun (for Sony Classical)
  • Desert Equations (Crammed Discs)
  • A Gift of Love (for Deepak Chopra with narration by Martin Sheen, Robert Thurman, Rosa Parks, Madonna, Goldie Hawn and Debra Winger).
  • City of Leaves (album)
  • Neda’s Eyes (song)
  • Logic of the Birds (Red Mountain)
  • Forbidden Echoes (poetry of Sabeesh), a sonic visual installation (in development).

With composer and director Heiner Goebbels, Deyhim recorded

  • Shadows (for ECM), based on the writings of Edgar Allan Poe and Heiner Mueller.She was also a featured soloist on Hal Wilner’s tribute to Kurt Weill, Lost in the Stars.
  • “Sussan Deyhim and the Conundrum of Connection,” http://www.bluefat.com/1105/Sussan_Deyhim.htm.
  • Video at http://www.bluefat.com/1105/Sussan_Deyhim.htm.
  • Video at http://www.bluefat.com/1105/Sussan_Deyhim.htm. Film review by Anne Midgette, NY Times, July 15, 2002, http://www.nytimes.com/2002/07/15/movies/festival-review-an-epic-journey-in-images-and-sounds.html. Background piece by Amei Wallach, NY Times, September 30, 2001, http://www.nytimes.com/2001/09/30/theater/theater-an-islamic-culture-in-all-its-beauty.html.

Film and television

  • Argo directed by Ben Affleck (vocals). Music: Alexandre Desplat. Golden Globe and Oscar nomination for best score 2012.
  • The Last Temptation of Christ. Music: Peter Gabriel.
  • The Kite Runner (vocals). Music by Alberto Iglesias.
  • Any Given Sunday (vocals). Music: Richard Horowitz.
  • Tobruk. Music in collaboration with Richard Horowitz, winner of Czech Lion Award in 2009.
  • The Stoning of Soraya M.. Music: John Debney
  • Unfaithful. Music: Jan Kaczmarek
  • Sleeper Cell. Music: Paul Haslinger (Golden Globe winning Showtime series).
  • Rise of the Argonauts. Music: Tyler Bates
  • A Jihad for Love (2008). Music by Sussan Deyhim and Richard Horowitz.
  • The House Is Black, media opera based on the life and work of the Iranian contemporary literary heroine, Forough Farrokhzad

Videos

  • Sussan Deyhim with Polish Radio Orchestra (Music by Jan A.P. Kaczmarek, vocal improvisations by Sussan Deyhim)
  • Deyhim at the Grand Performances in Los Angeles
  • Deyhim in Argo recording sessions
  • Deyhim live with Maetar, 2012 Zeitgeist Media Festival, Hollywood, CA
  • Deyhim at Grand Performances 2011- Sange Khara