Sherene Melania Shares Story of Unbreakable: Honoring the Women of Iran, a Revolutionary Dance Program

Sherene Melania. Photo: Cory Weaver

Sherene Melania has spent over two decades working as a leader in her field and promoting Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) principles in the realm of performing arts. Her latest production served to tackle these issues in a beautiful performance titled Unbreakable: Honoring the Women of Iran. Sherene played a pivotal role in the production’s success, where performers came together to tell a story of social justice through the art of dance.

Sherene is a visionary creative leader who works as a performing artist, choreographer, artistic director, executive director and producer. Her multifaceted skills have earned widespread recognition by prestigious institutions, such as the European Parliament, UNESCO, and the U.S. State Department. She is an award-winning, internationally sought after performing artist, global ambassador and speaker. She is known for her signature style of ethno-classical ballet, with an emphasis on creating original productions that highlight themes of women’s empowerment. This has shown the world Sherene’s commitment to featuring artists from underrepresented cultures and uplifting them for the world to witness.

Unbreakable uses the arts to generate awareness of global issues, and by partnering with humanitarian organizations, Sherene and the rest of the team were able to provide direct support to an important cause–the Center for Human Rights in Iran–through the success of their program. The show premiered at the Herbst Theatre in San Francisco on May 18, 2023, as the highlight of Presidio Dance Theatre’s 25th Anniversary Celebration. The performance has since been shown internationally, in support of the Woman Life Freedom movement.

The performance combined Sherene Melania’s signature style of ethno-classical ballet with contemporary dance. Sherene is a gifted storyteller. She created the program as a response to the brutal Islamic Republic of Iran. Her production, Unbreakable: Honoring the Women of Iran, has placed Sherene at the forefront of the intersection between dance and social justice. She manages to capture the depths of the human spirit and the production’s a powerful triumph!  You’re taken on an emotional journey. You experience the brutality and oppression, yet you feel the underlying sense of hope. The majority of the audience were moved to tears, evidencing Sherene’s creative genius.

Sherene Melania with artists of Presidio Dance Theatre, at the world premiere of “Unbreakable” at the Herbst Theatre, San Francisco. Photo: Vin Eiamvuthikorn.

“As an Iranian American, I am very proud to have premiered Unbreakable, amplifying the voices of the women of Iran,” says Sherene. “It is the story of Shir Zan, or lioness, reflecting a woman’s fierce strength that has been carried through generations since ancient times. It is an unbreakable spirit that will continue to fight until light overcomes darkness. I am tremendously grateful to our Artistic Advisor, Lily Samii, for sharing my vision and bringing this important story to life. I remain overwhelmed by the warm reception and everyone’s support of 25 years of justice through dance!”

Sherene is a woman who uses her voice and her experience with the performing arts to further prop up other women who have faced discrimination or inequality in the past. She aims to continue working to further emphasize the need for women’s empowerment and performing arts as a means to call for change in the world. “Beyond art for art’s sake, it’s a powerful tool that can be used to influence culture and help shape a more inclusive, just society.” 

She has a strong commitment to arts advocacy and social justice, where she has a history of developing pioneering arts education programs and the first inclusive ballet curriculum. Her work resonates with a large audience beyond the dance world, and Sherene hopes to continue working as a powerful reminder of our mutual humanity through the realm of dance and performance. 

As a global ambassador, Sherene excels in uniting people. She is a trilingual speaker who works to advocate for human rights through the arts. “Where politics often fail and create unsurmountable divisions, the arts have the power to heal, inspire and unite people,” says Sherene.

In her work to promote DEI principles in the world of performing arts, Sherene reminds the world that we are all connected through a shared human experience, no matter where we come from or where we will go. Her work with Presidio Dance Theatre has revealed her excellence as a leader in the pursuit of empowering women across the globe.For more information regarding Sherene Melania and her future endeavors, visit www.presidiodance.org.