Dance in the Persianate World

History, Aesthetics, Performance

Series: Bibliotheca Iranica: Performing Arts Series 14
Availability: In stock
Published: 2023
Page #: xii + 295
Size: 6 x 9
ISBN: 978-1-56859-395-1
bibliography, index


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Quick Overview

Dance in the Persianate World is a rich collected volume featuring the most up-to-date writings that addresses multiple issues surrounding dance, its performance and its reception throughout the Persianate world and constitutes a sequel to Anthony Shay’s Choreophobia: Solo Improvised Dance in the Iranian World (Mazda Publishers 1999). Edited by Shay, scholars and practitioners of dance contribute their scholarly knowledge and experiences as dancers and musicians to Dance in the Persianate World to the four sections of the volume features chapters about dance in historical periods and contemporary issues of dance throughout the Persianate world, that is those areas of the Middle East, Central Asia, and the Caucuses in which the Persian language, literature, and culture have historically and culturally bound this vast region together into a cultural region for millennia. Dance and music, especially the ubiquitous 6/8 rhythm that underpins dancing throughout the area, which several of the authors describe and analyze, clearly demonstrates the interconnectedness of the region. The first section features two chapters by Nathalie Chubineh and Amir-Hosein Pourjavady on the history of dance in the Persianate world. The second section contains four chapters on various aspects of regional folk dance and music by Sasan Fatemi, Hersh Armand, and George Murer. The third section addresses various aspects surrounding solo improvised dance, the most popular urban dance tradition throughout the region, particularly the negative and ambiguous attitudes toward dance in the contemporary areas of Iran and Central Asia in which the role of Islam and Islamic attitudes toward the propriety of dance and music remain important in the performance of solo improvised dance throughout the Persianate world, particularly in the Islamic Republic of Iran and Afghanistan where its performance is banned, and in the diaspora. Robyn Friend, Shireen Nabatian, Ghoncheh Tazmini, and Anthony Shay have written chapters about various aspects and issues surrounding solo improvised dance as both a domestic and professional dance genre, reactions to the dance ban in Iran, performance in the diaspora, dancing in the age of covid, and spirituality in art music and dance. In the final section, Tanya Merchant and Anthony Shay each contribute chapters about dance prepared for the stage and attitudes toward the professional dancers of both sexes, which focus on more in-depth discussions about issues of gender and sexuality, masculinity and femininity that are at the core of concerns and anxieties surrounding dance in the Persianate world.

[NOTE: Description, date of publication and the price are subject to change without notice.]


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.


Acknowledements ix
Authors’ Biographies xi
Introduction xvi
Anthony Shay

SECTION I: Dance in Historic Persia

Chapter 1. Iconography of Ancient Dance in Iran:
A Discursive Review 3
Nathalie Chubineh

Chapter 2. Professional Dancers in Iran:
A Historical Survey 48
Amir Hosein Pourjavady

SECTION II: Regional Folk Dances and Music

Chapter 3. Form and Rhythm in Music for Dance and Non-Dance Body Movements in Iran: From Folk Dance to the Traditional Sport, the Zurkhāneh 129
Sasan Fatemi

Chapter 4. North Kurdish Dance as a Curatorial Process 160
George Murer

Chapter 5. Halparke (Kurdish Dance): A Linguistic and Terminological Analysis 192
Hersh Armand

Chapter 6. Chūbbāzī ( “Stick dancing”) in Khorasanian Kurdish and TransEurasian Perspective 216
George Murer

Chapter 7. Sistani Dances as Collective Paths to Group Identity: The Dances of Migrant Sistani Communities in Golestan Province 249
Mahsa Hojjati
SECTION III: Solo Improvised Dance:
An Urban Folk Form

Chapter 8. House Dancing: At Home with Solo Improvised Dance and Choreophobia in the Persianate World 279
Anthony Shay

Chapter 9. Persian Classical Dance as Spiritual Experience: Evidence from Expert Practitioners and
Ethnography 307
Robyn Friend

Chapter 10. Persian and Central Asian Dance Online in the Era of COVID – 19 : The Interpretations and Refusals of Pomegeranate Garden Dance 344
Shireen Nabatian

Chapter 11. Dance and Resistance in Iran:
#dancingisnotacrime 387
Ghoncheh Tazmini

SECTION IV: Professional Dance and Ethno Identity
Dance in the Persianate World

Chapter 12. Raqqas, the Boy Dancer: The Dark End of the Rainbow of Iranian Masculinities 421
Anthony Shay

Chapter 13. A Dutar Student’s Observations and Experiences of Staged and Social Dance in Uzbekistan 450
Tanya Merchant

Chapter 14. Contemporary Iranian Dance and the Diasporic Politics of Authenticity 474
Heather Rastovac-Akbarzadeh

Chapter 15. Professional and Staged Ethno Identity Dance in the Persianate World 516
Anthony Shay

Index 565

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