Persian dance refers to the dance styles indigenous to Iran. Genres of dance in Iran vary depending on the area, culture, and language of the local people, and can range from sophisticated reconstructions of refined court dances to energetic folk dances. The population of Iran includes many ethnicities, such as Kurds, Azerbaijanis, Turkmen, Jews, Armenian, Georgian peoples, in addition to numerous Iranian tribal groups which can be found within the borders of modern-day Iran. Each group, region, and historical epoch has specific dance styles associated with it Raghs (also spelled as Raqs) is the Arabic word for dance, and is almost exclusively the word used for dance in Persian, as the Persian word for dance, paykubi, is no longer in common usage. It's also the word in Azerbaijani for dance (Reqs). The Kurdish word for dance is Halperke, and the Lurs from Lorestan use the word Bākhten (or Bāzee) for dance.
The earliest researched Persian dance is a dance worshiping Mithra (as in the Cult of Mithras) in which a bull was sacrificed. This cult later became highly adhered in the Roman Empire. This dance was to promote vigor in life. Ancient Persian dance was significantly researched by Greek historian from Herodotus of Halikarnassos, in his work Book IX (Calliope), in which he describes the history of Asian empires and Persian wars until 478 BC. Ancient Persia was occupied by foreign powers, first Greeks, then Arabs, and then Mongols and in turn political instability and civil wars occurred. Throughout these changes a slow disappearance of heritage dance traditions occurred.
After the fall of Persian Empire, when the country was torn into pieces, Iranian women and young girls were enslaved by the new conquerors, often forced into sexual slavery and required to perform erotic dance for new rulers. Religious prohibition of dancing in Iran came with the spread of Islam, but it was spurred by historical events. Religious prohibition to dancing waxed and waned over the years, but after the Iranian Revolution in 1979 dancing was no longer allowed due to its frequent mixing of the sexes. The Islamic Revolution of 1979, was the end of a successful era for dancing and the art of ballet in Iran. The Iranian national ballet company was dissolved and its members emigrated to different countries. According to the principles of the “cultural revolution” in Iran, dancing was considered to be perverse, a great sin, immoral and corrupting. As a result, many of the talented Persian dancers moved to the West and spread out mainly in Europe and the United States and new generation of Iranian dancers and ballet artists have grown up in the Diaspora.
Our Persian Specialty Classes for July 2016...
10:00-10:30 AM Registration/Sign In
Classical Persian Dance movements and combinations: this class will focus on movements and music most often defined as Persian Classical Dance. Persian music is highly classified and defined, with great lineages of teacher (or Ostad) to student
Classical Persian Dance is not so rigorously defined and is largely the composition of contemporary dance artists, virtually none of whom currently live in Iran. Still, Classical Persian Dance has a quality of its own, which we will explore in this class.
12:00-12:30 Short Break
Contemporary and Mystical Persian Dance: An emerging category in the dances of Iran, Mystical Dance borrows movements and traditions from folk dance, classical dance, and Sufi traditions. We will explore whirling turns, circle dances, and poetry.
Gail Corrado Okafor is a choreographer and producer specializing in dances from the Middle East and the Silk Road. She performed for five years with Ballet Afsaneh, an internationally acclaimed Silk Road Company based in the SF Bay Area and was also a member of the award-winning bellydance troupe, Lunatique, based in Berkeley, CA which went on to tour China in 2006 as ambassadors of Egyptian dance in the Beijing International Cultural Festival. Gail is committed to creating connection and community by sharing the art of dance. In addition to performing she also produced and hosted the Cafe Bellie bellydance show for 7 years which not only featured some of the biggest artist in American bellydance today, but also benefited a local women's shelter. Her upcoming projects include a forthcoming collaborative video dance project entitled "The Whispers of Trees" produced by Lisa Thornbury Clark and a Moroccan Shikhatt dance workshop at Al Kahina Dance Studio in Yellow Springs Ohio.
Cost: $25.00 per class or $40.00 for both classes.
(Current Arabesque Month Unlimited Passholders get a $10.00 Discount)
Early Bird Registration $30.00 if Paid by July 1st!!
Mail Check or Money Order to:
Arabesque World Dance
451-B Chair Ave
Lexington, KY 40508
Or Pay online when we Open Registration on the Arabesque Lex Website...we will announce it on the event page!