TEACHING. Dr. Friend teaches dancing and singing in the Los Angeles area, and is available to travel for special work-shops. Private lessons are also available.
CHOREOGRAPHY. She is also available to choreograph dances for your performing group. Among the groups for which she has produced choreographies are the Duquesne University Tamburitzans, Het Internationaal Danstheater of Amsterdam, the Middle East ensemble of the University of California at Santa Barbara, and the AMAN Folk Ensemble. Her choreographies have received rave reviews in the Los Angeles Times and other journals.
COSTUMING. She designs and makes all of her own costumes, and is available for consulting on design and materials.
DANCE CONDITIONING. She is a teacher of body conditioning for dancers, trained by Marie Jose Blom.
Listen to Robyn's singing -- Turkish.
From a commercial recording. Takes about 75 seconds to down-load at 28.8kbps.
Listen to Robyn's singing -- Persian. From a live recording of a concert at McCabe's in Los Angeles. Takes about 60 seconds to down-load at 28.8kbps.
Learn how to buy a video of Robyn's dancing .
She first got interested in the Middle East as a child because of her grandmother, who spoke Turkish, Greek, Bulgarian, and other languages. She has spent 30 years learning the culture of Iran, including extensive travel in the Middle East, earning a Ph.D. in Iranian languages, study “at the foot of a master” learning poetry and singing, 15 years on the board of directors of a charitable arts organization devoted to the culture of Iran and the surrounding area, and extensive teaching.
She has given hundreds of performances as a solo singer
and dancer. Her performances and choreographies have garnered rave
reviews in venues throughout the U.S., Canada, Europe, and the Middle East
-- such as the 1984 Olympic Arts Festival, Los Angeles Dance Kaleidoscope,
UCLA’s Royce Hall, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and so forth. Her
singing repertoire includes the classical music of Iran and Turkey, traditional
songs from the Middle East and the Balkans, Romany music, and other European
and American repertoire. She released a solo audio CD in 2000.
Her dance repertoire includes several styles of Iranian
dance (Qajar, Gilaki, Qashqai, etc.), as well as Armenian, Azerbaijani,
Uzbek, and Tajik dance. Her video of her solo dancing and choreographies
was selected by the International Academy of Middle Eastern Dance (IAMED)
as its “entertainment video of the year” for 2001.
She continues her musical studies with noted music and dance masters, learning by rote in the traditional methods. Research trips abroad have been supplemented by years of work with local ethnic communities.
Dr. Friend has studied several languages, including Iranian and Turkic dialects: Persian, Turkish, Suleimaniye Kurdish, Russian, French, Bulgarian, Azeri Turkish, Uzbek, Chaghatay, and Ottoman Turkish. She earned a Ph.D. from UCLA in Iranian languages, where her doctoral dissertation was on the Kurdish dialect spoken in Suleimaniye, Iraq. She has dozens of publications to her credit, in fields ranging from space exploration to the culture of the Iranian community in Los Angeles. Several of her publications are available through her web site.
She began dancing as a child, with noted teachers such as Jerry Salkin, Mary Claire Sale, and Leslie Ruchala. As an adult, her teachers have included Leona Wood, Haleh Farjah, Medea Mahdavi, Aisha Ali, Morocco, and many other Iranian and Turkish dancers.
She is a student of the renowned Uzbek dance master Viloyat Akilova. Viloyat selected Robyn to the be transmitter of her family's "signature dance", Shodiyana, a dance in Bukhara style that was made famous by Viloyat's mother, transmitted exclusively by her to Viloyat, and now by Viloyat exclusively to Robyn.
Other recognition includes an Apprenticeship Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, 1985-1986, for the study of classical Persian singing; a citation from the City of Los Angeles, 1987; and notice from the Iranian community in Los Angeles for work teaching Iranian dancing to Iranian children, 2001.
Amongst the groups for which she has developed dance choreographies are the Duquesne University Tamburitzans, Het Internationaal Danstheater of Amsterdam, the Middle East ensemble of the University of California at Santa Barbara, and the AMAN Folk Ensemble of Los Angeles.
She designs and makes all of her own costumes. Dr. Friend also is a certified teacher of Pilates-based body conditioning for dancers, having studied with Marie Jose Blom.
Other artistic endeavors include painting in oils, designing floral arrangements, costuming, creation of "wearable art", and acting.
Dr. Friend visited the Soviet Union in 1988, as a guest
of the Soviet Space Research Institute "IKI"
Photos by Neil Siegel.