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Choreophobia: Solo Improvised Dance in the Iranian World

Video clip: Courtesy of Anthony Shay's AVAZ International Dance Theatre.

Availability: In stock
Published: 1999
Page #: x + 235
Size: 6 x 9
ISBN: 1-56859-083-3
plates, bibliography, index

$25.00

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Quick Overview

Choreophobia is the term coined by Dr. Shay, in this first full-length study of Iranian dance, to characterize the widespread ambiguous and negative reactions to solo improvised dance, the most popular dance form in the Iranian world. This dance form appears to constitute an ambiguous, powerful, and highly negative symbol in Iranian society.
The central project of this study, designed for both scholars and general readers, is to identify and analyze what factors currently contribute and have historically contributed to the ambiguous position solo improvised dance occupies in an Iranian context. This is reflected both currently and historically in attempts to ban its public performances. In spite of the negative reactions solo improvised dance can evoke, nonetheless it is also loved and performed throughout the Iranian world, emphasizing the ambiguity that accompanies its performances in various social contexts. The author draws a portrait of solo improvised dance by detailing its movement practices and describing and analyzing the aesthetic and creative impulses utilized by performers of the genre. By showing the ways in which solo improvised dance shares important formal aesthetic and creative elements with other Iranian expressive forms such as calligraphy, music, and traditional theatre through the use of geometry and improvisation, the author demonstrates how dance is firmly linked with other Iranian art forms.
Shay addresses the topic of historical evidence for this dance genre concentrating on how dance appears in visual art forms such as the Persian miniature and the limitations of the visual arts as a source for historical reconstruction. He describes the Iranian world providing the historical, cultural and social contexts for the study. Several authors have posited Islamic attitudes as the single reason for negative reactions toward dance, an assumption that Shay questions.

Using several dance events as examples, the author proposes a model for describing and analyzing the elements that constitute choreophobia, arguing that such a model may have wider implications in the study of dance.

author

Anthony Shay

Anthony Shay earned the first Ph. D. in Dance History and Theory at the University of California, Riverside. He also holds MA degrees in anthropology from California State University, Los Angeles, folklore and mythology, and library science from UCLA. In September 1998 he was awarded the coveted James Irvine Foundation Fellowship in Dance. He is a five-time recipient of the NEA choreographic fellowship and was a NEA resident artist in La Napoule, France. As a folklorist, he conducted research in traditional music and dance for the Smithsonian Institution in Lebanon. Shay was also awarded two National Endowment for the Humanities summer scholar positions. He has contributed numerous essays, articles, and entries to the Oxford Encyclopedia of Dance, the Encyclopedia of Homosexuality, the UNESCO Encyclopedia of Contemporary Theatre, Dance Research Journal, Journal of Iranian Studies, Visual Anthropology, and the Southern California History Quarterly. He is the author of several books on the subject of dance and choreography. Anthony Shay is a dancer and choreographer with over forty years of performing and creative experience in staging and choreographing dances and music from Eastern Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia. After years of study in Iran, Shay created the AVAZ Dance Theatre and currently serves as choreographer and artistic director. In this period he has choreographed over 150 works for both his own company and on commission to other groups.

Acknowledgements
Introduction

Chapter 1
Solo Improvised Dance: Its Movement Practices and Aesthetics

Chapter 2
Historical Aspects of Solo Improvised Dance

Chapter 3
Dance and Other Movement Activities in an
Iranian-Islamic Context

Chapter 4
The Iranian-American Community

Chapter 5
Solo Improvised Dance in Social Contexts

Chapter 6
Solo Improvised Dance in Performance Contexts

Chapter 7
Summary and Conclusions

Notes to the Chapters
Illustrations
Bibliography
Index

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