Magazine article Dance Magazine

Iranian Dancer Fights to Move. (News)

Magazine article Dance Magazine

Iranian Dancer Fights to Move. (News)

Article excerpt

An Iranian-American dancer who lives and works in Los Angeles was recently convicted of dancing, or--as it was called at his trial in Teheran--"promoting corruption among young people," wire services reported on July 8. Mohamad Khordadian had been arrested in May as he attempted to leave Iran after a visit. His sentence is a ban on giving dance classes for life and a ten-year suspended jail term; he was also denied an exit visa from Iran for ten years. The 46-year-old Khordadian was expected to appeal the verdict.

Khordadian is best known for performing a kind of Iranian pop-belly dance in his nightclub-review-style videos, which are widely circulated in Iran. In Southern California, he also performs at social occasions and is seen on Persian-language TV. While dancing is not technically banned in Iran, the context of dance performances is key in defining whether or not they are deemed acceptable by hard-line Islamic clerics, who wield great power in that country. Folk dance is tolerated, and social dancing goes on in private (often with guards keeping a lookout), but men and women who are not close relatives are not permitted to dance near each other, and even figures of ballet dancers in Degas reproductions are blacked out.

Such attitudes toward dance in the Islamic world have been summarized as "choreophobia" by Dr. Anthony Shay, Iranian specialist and founder of the Avaz International Dance Theatre in Los Angeles. Shay says he coined the term to describe "ambivalent and negative feelings about dance. …

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