Sara Faradji is a PhD candidate in English at the University of Maryland, where she studies the resonance of contemporary world Anglophone literature. She enjoys teaching global film, literature, and critical theory. As a facilitator of Re-Connect’s virtual global internship initiative, she hopes to connect students with artists and scholars in this collective festival effort.|photo edit: systaime
Nima Dehghani, the co-founder and artistic director of the festival, is a transdisciplinary artist who employs digital technologies to connect people with human experiences of estrangement and displacement. Since moving to the U.S. from Iran in 2013 to pursue an MFA from Carnegie Mellon University, he has developed several immersive performance art projects and virtual platforms that facilitate interactions between the artists and audience from all around the world, borderless.
Ali was born in Isfahan (Iran) and emigrated to the United States at the age of twelve. He studied physics and music at Swarthmore College and completed his doctoral degree in music composition, improvisation and performance with computers from the Center for New Music and Audio Technologies at UC Berkeley. Between 2007 and 2011, Momeni was an assistant professor in the Department of Art at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, where he directed the Spark Festival of Electronic Music and Art, and founded the urban projection collective called the MAW. Momeni next served as an associate professor in the School of Art at Carnegie Mellon University where he founded and directed CMU ArtFab, a laboratory that’s focused on making complex creative workflows accessible to youth and non-technical folks. Momeni was also a founding faculty member in CMU’s IDEATE program, and contributed to the Music Technology program. In 2018, Ali joined Shield.ai as a Senior Principal Scientist focused on User Experience, and Brown University as a Professor of Practice within the Brown Arts Initiative and Data Science Initiative. In addition to his work in industry and his academic research and teaching, Ali is also co-founder of IRL Labs, an educational technology start-up focused on transforming everyday situations into interactive learning opportunities using everyday technologies. His research interests include educational technologies, human-computer-interaction for performative applications of robotics, playful urban interventions, interactive projection performance, machine learning for artists and designers, interactive tools for storytelling and experiential learning, mobile and hybrid musical instruments, and the intersection of sound, music and health.
Dawn Weleski’s art practice administers a political stress test, antagonizing routine cultural behavior by re-purposing underground brawls, revolutionary protests, and political offices as transformative social stages. Recent projects include The Black Draft (with Justin Strong), a live mock sports draft event during which ten Black former Pittsburghers, from all professions, are drafted to return home and City Council Wrestling, a series of public wrestling matches where citizens, pro-am wrestlers, and city council members personified their political passions into wrestling characters. She co-founded and co-directs Conflict Kitchen (with Jon Rubin), a take-out restaurant that serves cuisine from countries with which the U.S. government is in conflict, which has been covered by over 900 international media and news outlets worldwide and was the North American finalist for the Second Annual International Award for Public Art in 2015.
Weleski has exhibited at The Mercosul Biennial, Brazil; the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; the San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose; Anyang Public Art Project, South Korea; The CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Art, San Francisco; Townhouse Gallery, Cairo; Festival Belluard Bollwerk International, Switzerland; The Mattress Factory Museum, Pittsburgh; Arts House, Melbourne; and 91mQ, Berlin; has been a resident at The Headlands Center for the Arts, SOMA Mexico City, and The Atlantic Center for the Arts; is a Fellow at The STUDIO for Creative Inquiry; and is a 2017 Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts Curatorial Fellow.
Raha Rajabi was born in 2001 in Tehran, Iran. After her first years of education, she chose an alternative education system and ultimately graduated from the Mosharekati participatory school in Tehran and the Clonlara school(US). She has done communications, management, and costume design for different theatre companies and participated in national and international festivals like FITS(RO) and Fadjr(IR) as an interpreter. Raha also volunteered in many Social Projects such as Zero Hunger IR and the Child Friendly Network. She currently lives in Tehran and works as an associate producer at the NH Theatre Agency as well as the project manager for Re-Connect online performance festival. Besides her professional activities, Raha often collaborates with national and international cultural, artistic, and social projects.
Erfan Ashorioun is a digital media artist born in 1995, Esfahan, Iran.
He is a visual artist with music composing and performance art background who uses digital tools in an attempt to represent the concept of deterioration in abstract forms by getting inspiration from nature, organic forms and phenomenons.
Jafar Hejazi is an interdisciplinary artist who has backgrounds in technology and performing arts, having completed an undergraduate degree in Mechanical engineering and an MA degree in Theatre.
He is interested in exploring the possibilities of the internet to create performance arts on that. Jafar Hejazi’s research interests include Digital Performance, Interactive Media, Social Media and Mixed Reality Tech. He has experienced using the internet as well as some gadgets, such as VR headset, to create engaging artistic projects.
My name is Kyle Faresich and I’m currently a senior at the University of Maryland. I’m originally from New Jersey but I moved to Maryland after being accepted to UMD’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism. After spending two years studying journalism and the art of writing and reporting, I decided to switch my major to public relations, as well as pick up a minor in general business. I had an internship this past summer working as a copywriter intern for a marketing agency in New York City, although my interests lie within the fashion and entertainment side of public relations. This past year I wrote for a fashion and lifestyle magazine on campus called Monumental Magazine, mainly writing a feature article about the rise of feminine masculinity as well as being the creative director, stylist, and model for the accompanying photoshoot. I enjoy thinking creatively and supporting artistic visions, which is what drew me to intern for the Re-Connect Online Performance Festival.
Baapougouni Benedicte Cynthia Carenne Thiombiano
Hello, My name is Baapougouni Benedicte Cynthia Carenne Thiombiano, but my friend calls me Benedicte or Benny. I was born in Ouagadougou Burkina Faso. I moved to the United States in 2013. I graduated from North West High School and got my associate degree in Business at Montgomery College. Currently, I am a Communications major at the University of Maryland College Park. Some of my hobbies are listening to music, reading books, cooking, watching movies, and learning new languages. After getting my bachelor’s degree, I would like to pursue my studies in Environmental law. I am fluent in English and French.
Virginia Coldren is a junior at the University of Maryland studying Theatre and Arts Leadership. She is currently the Artistic Director of UMD’s The Muses, an all-female led student theatre group dedicated to amplifying the voices of women and minorities on campus. She recently assistant directed a full virtual version of Machinal by Sophie Treadwell, where they experimented with all new technology for live online theatre. She has also previously acted in numerous shows and has even had experience in the technical realm. She is always eager to learn more about the theatre and continues to work towards her degree passionately.
Research and Curation Intern
My name is Farhan Sonboldel. I was born in 1997 in Karaj (Iran). I’m a senior student in Drama at university of Tehran. My research focus is on political engagement of theatre and dramaturgy of political events in streets and political documents. My activities during my studying theatre at university have been directing theatre and Performance and writing play on Immersive Theatre, Digital Theatre and Documentary Theatre. Also, I research on theatre and performance studies, organizing seminars, workshops and festivals at university. One of my favorite areas of art is interdisciplinary productions in theatre, literature and digital arts and cyberspace.
Sadaf Amouei Kalareh
Sadaf Amouei Kalareh is still practicing to be a future art manager. She graduated from Art University of Tehran, with bachelor’s degree in Puppet Theatre in 2019. She has worked with several festivals during her bachelor’s as an executive manager and contributed in several theatre projects. After her graduation she moved to the Netherlands, where she started studying her Master’s in Arts and Culture, Cognition and Criticism. She is currently working on her thesis, which is about the role of technical innovation in the mental health of Iranian artists during the pandemic.
Research and Curation Intern
Alireza is an interdisciplinary artist-to-be. He is studying Theatre Directory at the Art University of Tehran and is working on his thesis through which he questions Traumatic Representation in Beckett's Latest plays. Now he is the curator of the Scoretodo Project, a project about writing instructional pieces and introducing this form of art to Iranian artists and involving them through.
He is currently translating a book about theatre artists in contemporary art. Alireza is interested in Performance Studies and is investigating through daily life acts and Interactive Media.
Graphic Design Intern
Elora Romo (she/her) is a 20-year-old graphic designer and printmaker based in Richmond, VA. She is currently a third-year student at Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts (VCUarts) pursuing a BFA in Graphic Design with a minor in Painting + Printmaking. Alongside her studies, Elora is also working as a Graphic Design Intern for VCU’s Center for Community Engagement and Impact. Her interests include typography, vector illustration, web design, 2D animation, and printmaking (primarily risography and silk screen, but also lithography and intaglio). Elora's portfolio and contact info can be accessed at eloraromo.com.