Emelie Mahdavian

Emelie Mahdavian is a documentary filmmaker, musician, and dancer whose research looks at dance film, postcolonial theory, and transnational media.

photo credit: Roozbeh Ghasemi


Emelie Mahdavian is the recipient of numerous research and travel grants that allowed her to travel extensively to Tajikistan while completing her first feature-length documentary film, After the Curtain, about the lives of women dancers in Tajikistan. The film premiered at Lincoln Center in February 2016 as part of the 44th Dance on Camera Festival. She followed this work with an experimental motion-capture dance film on gender and surveillance in Iran. This short is also traveling to international festivals and will be exhibited at the Los Angeles Craft and Folk Art Museum starting in January 2017. Her next project, a feature-length documentary called “Midnight Traveler,” is a collaboration with a family of Afghan artists on the run from the Taliban. 

She is also a professional dancer and musician, having been the Assistant Director of and a Principal Dancer with Ballet Afsaneh,  a company member in the award-winning ethno-contemporary company Wan-Chao Dance, and a singer with Zaryab ensemble. She holds a B.A. (with honors) in Music and Philosophy from Mills College, a Postgraduate Diploma in Filmmaking from London Film School, and an C.Phil.in Comparative Literature from UC Davis. In addition, she studied Vocal Performance in the Contemporary Improvisation department at New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, MA; Musical Theatre at Mountview Theatre School in London; Acting and Musical Theater at HB Studios in New York; and Art and Religion (focusing on Islam) at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, CA.

Current Activities

She is finishing her Practice as Research dissertation this year.