Clair Symonds' NEW RELEASE - NOW AVAILABLE!
Romance and Revolution - A Leap of Faith at the Iranian National Ballet, by Clair Symonds
Set against the glamorous backdrop of the Iranian National Ballet Company in 1970s Tehran, awash with money thanks to the generous patronage of the Shah’s wife Farah Pahlavi known as the Shahbanu, ROMANCE AND REVOLUTION is the true story of Clair Symonds, a naïve 19 year old Jewish ballet dancer who grew up in South Africa during the era of apartheid and who sets off to Iran without even knowing where that country is, let alone anything about its rich history and culture.
Within a few months of her arrival she has met and fallen in love with Arash Alizadeh, a dashing student of architecture five years her senior and whose passion in life, much to his father’s disdain, is classical dance - in addition to being a fierce critic of the Shah’s dictatorial regime.
Nothing, it seems, can prevent Clair and Arash’s romance from moving rapidly towards marriage - even the opposition of their respective fathers. Having been seduced by the charm and allure of her dashing Iranian knight, Clair fails to take a stand against the Alizadeh family’s policy of keeping her Jewishness strictly under wraps. There were dark mutterings, even from Arash, of the Holocaust being a myth to justify the existence of Israel and to dampen down sympathy for the plight of the Palestinians.
Not that such grand issues are of much concern to Clair - she is preoccupied with dancing the role of Zarema in The Fountain of Bakhchesarai and the great ballet classics which are part and parcel of the company’s lavish repertoire. Besides, she is hopelessly in love and any criticisms of Arash’s increasingly erratic behaviour fall on deaf ears.
But Arash proves to be considerably more charming in courtship and seduction than in wedlock and matrimony - Clair seeing herself thrown into the arms of her new family rather than those of her husband. And in accepting the status quo she reluctantly becomes more sister than wife. Undeterred, Clair decides to marry Arash for a second time.
Does love conquer all? Are religious and cultural differences insurmountable, as many would have us believe, meaning that any union between Jew and Muslim is doomed to failure from the outset?
ROMANCE AND REVOLUTION is the uplifting, eye-opening true story of contemporary relevance of one young woman’s long, lonely and often painful journey of empowerment as, with the Revolution and the advent of the Ayatollahs in Iran, she begins to search for solutions which, hitherto, have eluded her. Is absolutely any behaviour acceptable relating to romance? Are there are any limits at all when it comes to unconditional love?
Comments from reviewers of pre-release copies of Symonds' book:
“Far more than the memoir of one particularly dedicated dancer, Romance and Revolution is a valuable resource exposing the untold story of the Iranian National Ballet that once served as Iran's most reputable cultural organization.”
-Nima Kiann, Founder & Artistic Director of Les Ballets Persans (the equivalent of the Iranian National Ballet in exile (Sweden))
“As a former member of the Iranian National Ballet myself, I remember Clair's sharp and spectacular grandes jeteées cleaving the air in the company’s rehearsal studios. The 1979 Iranian Revolution was like a force of nature, an unstoppable wave that caught us all up and in its wake destroyed much of what was dear to us at the time. Dancers, though seemingly fragile, are usually extremely tough and down to earth people and it is these qualities that Clair Symonds brings to this most authentic and evocative memory of Tehran during those perilous times.”
-Jeremy Allen, Head of Artistic Staff, The Israel Ballet, Tel Aviv
“A real triumph. An unlikely example of a dancer’s life being equally fascinating both on and off-stage.”
-Stuart Hopps, Choreographer
“A thoroughly enjoyable and well-researched book. The doors of the Iranian National Ballet Company might well have been forced shut. But Symonds shows us with devastating effect that the desire for freedom has far from been extinguished in Iran. Symonds' journey resurrects a forgotten Iran from thirty years of lies and as such shines a much needed light on a not so remote past, buried in rubble by the fall of 1979.”
-Dr. Ramin Parham, Iranian writer, leading opponent of Iran's Shia regime
“I grew up in the ancient Jewish community of Iran. What a pleasure to return to my country through the most unlikely story of a South African Jewish girl who falls in love with a Muslim. A sensitively told tale of cross-cultural romance related with style and panache - and at a time of the most challenging socio-political change.”
-Professor Goel Cohen, Iranian Jewish expatriate
“Romance and Revolution skillfully takes us into the murky world of the Shah’s Iran – where even classical ballet is not immune from the country’s ruthless secret police.”
-Lord David Steel, Former leader of the Liberal Party, life-long anti-apartheid campaigner
“Who needs fiction when you can read about a real-life love story which draws you in from page 1?”
-Sue Margolis, best-selling author of Neurotica
“A great read, tremendously evocative of its time, spotlighting the innocence of childhood and the passion of dance, played out against the sinister and shadowy backdrop of apartheid, intrigue and growing political unrest.”
-Peter Hain, MP, former British Cabinet Minister
Order the softcover book here or the e-book here or the Kindle e-book here.
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Here is a sampling of comments from reviewers of pre-release copies of Glazov's upcoming book:
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See more praise for the book here.
Order the book here.
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