The Pleasant Pain
The Pleasant Pain, draws from oral history interviews that Hoss has conducted with nearly thirty young Iranian émigrés who have recently migrated to the San Francisco Bay Area. Like Hoss, the interviewees are part of Iran’s “new generation” – those born in Iran after the 1979 Islamic Revolution. The choreographic process and community building efforts of The Pleasant Pain explore individual and collective memories of home and how these memories and one’s sense of identity transform after migration. As Hoss explains: “I lost my sense of home after immigrating. Since I feel that I no longer belong to any place outside or inside Iran, my sense of home now only resides in memories of sounds, smells, and images that no longer exist. I choreographed The Pleasant Pain from the personal and collective processes of recuperating and transforming these memories into new definitions of home for us young Iranian immigrants in the Bay Area.” Instead of presenting a multicultural spectacle of ahistorical exoticism or a typical narrative of suffering and freedom, The Pleasant Pain highlights the complexities, concerns, and embodied memories of Iran’s “new generation” through exploring concepts of bittersweetness, numbness, skin shedding, and pain as pleasure. Hoss explains: “Things that people might think of as ‘pain’ or ‘restriction’ in Iran actually conjure sensations of safety, joy, and home for me and many of the other ‘new generation’ who have recently immigrated.” Through exploring these seeming contradictions, this choreographic work attempts to disrupt the binaries that often surround Middle Eastern people in the U.S., such as unfree/free, past/present, there/here, collective/individual, and religious/secular. Hoss’s primary choreographic objective is to create joy within darkness; however, while dance, for many in the Iranian diaspora, has historically been, and still is, a tool for producing joy, Hoss aims to transform the fantasy of the “beautiful Persian princess” into the reality of an imperfect human being.
Aisan Hoss is a dancer and choreographer from Tehran, Iran. She started studying and performing Iranian dances at the age of twelve and teaching at the age of eighteen. While doing her BS in Business Management from Azad University in Tehran, Aisan attended a study-abroad English language program in London where she first encountered contemporary dance. She became drawn to the form’s unlimited possibilities for individual self expression and for experimentation of form and content. After graduating, she moved to London to pursue contemporary dance as her career. At the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Contemporary Dance in London, Aisan completed a one-year diploma in dance followed by a BA in Dance Theatre. At Trinity Laban, she found her passion in choreography and dance pedagogy, which inspired her to spend one year teaching contemporary dance in Iran and to then pursue her MFA in Dance and Choreography at Mills College in Oakland, California. While at Mills, she received an Innovator Award sponsored by E.L. Wiegand Foundation. For Aisan, her passion in dance and choreography has been a means for gaining insight into her identity as an Iranian living outside of her home country. Specifically, several of her choreographies have explored the ways in which having physical distance from her home country provides a deeper sense of intimacy with its cultural essence. Aisan uses movement as a tool to find beauty in her history and identity. Inspired by modern Iranian culture, she aims to give voice to the quietest elements of her culture through choreography.