Friday Musings

It is Friday, and I want to talk about dance. In the years I lived in Iran, I went to see what could be seen of Iranian dance. Whereas musical concerts and plays were staged almost all year round, dance productions were no more than two or three a year. Dance, which is no longer called by its name, raghs, is now called “harmonious movements,” or harekat-e-mozoon, except in specaial cases must be staged as a part of a “play,” and is scrutinized and censored as an art form, where the music cannot be too exciting, the dance moves for women cannot be too fast, and there cannot be any “lewd” movements in the dance, and since many moves in Iranian dance contain kereshmeh, they cannot be included in the choreography, and will either have to be removed or the entire production will not receive permission to stage. Dancers, choreographers, and directors of dance productions are routinely harassed and monitored, many times arrested or barred from work, and in one case I know about, the entire cast of a dance performance were pulled off the stage and driven to detention on their opening night! Dance is a tricky business in Iran. If it is to give the expected excitement and joy to the audience, it must be choreographed and executed cleverly. With their limited expression and movement opportunities, I have seen extremely powerful dance productions on Iranian stage, where even sex has been depicted quite effectively, thanks to the creative choreographers and casts.
One of the choreographers whose productions I have attended is Farzaneh Kaboli. Herself an accomplished dancer, in recent years she has worked on producing and staging “plays” which are more than 90% “harmonious movements.” As a dancer she won many awards, and after the revolution, she set up her own dance school. She has a group of very talented dancers in her dance company, whom she trains for at least one production per year. Amidst serious adversity to her art of choice and much harassment to her as an individual, Farzaneh Kaboli continues to live, love, teach, and show Iranian dance. She is not losing hope. Why should we? Sorry, I don't have any video clips to show you, but if you go to Farzaneh Kaboli's webite, you can read about her, look at her gallery, and find out more for yourself. The above picture is from her gallery. If I'm not mistaken, it is from Fajr Theatre Festival of last year, and the picture was taken by Omid Salehi. (I wished people were more careful to credit their sources, especially where their intellectual property rights are involved. Anyhow, you can look at Omid's spectacular photography at that link).
A young Iranian blogger friend, Daisy, who is a student, an aspiring artist, and a gardener had left the clip of a very inspirational speech by Steve Jobs (of Apple, Inc.) on her blog (it's in English) which I am borrowing here. It is entitled Connecting the Dots. Once inside Youtube, the text for the speech can be viewed on the right side panel. Worth the 14 minutes, I thought. I wish you all a wonderful weekend, full of recreation and joy. Hug and kiss your friends and family and your lovers, and remember to say you love them as often as you can. I am a bit under the weather, and wonder now whether I will be able to make the many engagements I have lined up for the weekend. If I do anything interesting, I will let you know! Be good Y'all.


مانا said...

نازی جون متاسفانه من نمی توانم وبلاگ جدید شما را بخوانم .این سایت در ایران فیلتر است

Nazy said...

Salam Mana Jan! Don't worry. I'm right here! I will write some things for Iranian.com in addition to what I write here! Just come back and visit whenever you can. Be good Mana Jan.

serendip said...

Oh my God, the picture is gorgeous. Ok, Now' I'm going to read the post.

serendip said...

Nazy jan: This has been one of your most informative posts on the state of "Dance" as an art in Iran. It is story that should be told and we're all richer for it. Thanks for sharing your precision-guided insights on all the topics you take on.

Are you coming down with a summer cold?? Healing thoughts.
Have a blessed weekend and get plenty of rest.

Nazy said...

Salam Bar Serendip! Thank you so much for coming and for your supportive words. Your responses and comments encourage me to try and do a better job. In the coming weeks I will talk about other people who have tried to keep dance onstage in Iran.

Now I tell you a memory. As I had many friends among actors, dancers and directors, on more than one occasion I attended opening nights of dance performances. One time I attended a play about Siavash, the character so beautifully depicted in Shahnameh. I was sitting on the first row, enjoying a good view of the stage. There was a scene where some dancers came on stage bearing small flames of fire in their hands, showing preparations for setting the big fire Siavash was made to walk through in order to prove his innocence. Usually on the opening night of a play, costumes, props, or scenes experience unforseen mishaps which must be learned from and fixed for the following nights. On this night the small props holding the flames in the actors' hands were not very sturdy and while moving, one of them dropped the flame on the stage floor. The man closest to the embers on the stage, my god friend (bless his soul since he is now in heaven) tried to improvise some moves, stepping on the embers to put them out! But alas, the little fire on the wooden floor wouldn't go out. As the dances and music went on, the audience and the actors onstage were increasingly uncomfortable about the prospects of a growing fire. I never forget how the actor near the flames stepped forward, opened his cape, improvising some non-existent dialogue and move, while behind him someone quickly jumped onstage and poured water from an "aftabeh" on the embers putting them out, jumping out quickly before the actor closed his cape again! It was hilarious!

No, I don't have a cold. I have neglected my health for a long time and I need to start paying attention to myself. Thanks for your healing thoughts my friend. Be good Serendip.

Shobeir said...

یک دست جام باده و یک دست زلف یار
رقصی چنین میانه‌ی میدانم آرزوست

I am between ppl who count the wallpaper dots when its the dancing time :(

Btw the story which u've shared with us in comments was really hillarious.

Nazy said...

Salam Shobeir Jan:

بر سر تربت من با می و مطرب بنشین
تا به بویت ز لحد رقص کنان برخیزم

I am familiar with people who don't dance. They say they don't know how to or that they don't like it. I know better. Everybody wants to dance, and everybody should. Everybody wants to sing and everybody should. It really doesn't matter how good a dancer or singer they are. Those "art" forms are also very basic ways of human expression, shared among all races, ethnicities, and tribes for as long as man has been around.

خدایا، مطربان را انگبین ده
برای ضرب دست آهنین ده
چو دست و پای وقف عشق کردند
تو همشان دست و پای راستین ده
چو پر کردند گوش ما ز پیغام
تو شان صد چشم بخت شاه بین ده


If by people around you, you are talking about students at Sharif, you should remember that in order for each and everyone of you to get into Sharif, you had to be "geeks," (please forgive me if this is offensive to you. Just bear with me till I finish) in order to pass Konkoor and get in. I always said to my sister, a Sharif graduate whose daughter went to Sharif, that families that support their children to go to the top universites in Iran basically lock up a young individual inside a room and throw away the key for several years, opening the door after Konkoor, where a fully-developed person leaves the room. This person who looks fully developed and is now in college, doesn't really have any idea about the world during the time he/she was gone! Politics, literature, relationships, and sometimes even sports, are all things that happened when the door was locked! So, young college students in Iran need to have "crash courses" on the "real stuff" of the world, so that they can catch up! They want to dance Shobeir, but don't know how! Show them! I see that you are showing them about music and poetry. Of course you can't show dance in your blog, but when you are in the room where they are counting those wallpaper patterns, pull them up and get them started!

Anyhow, when we were children, we watched dance on television, in school performances, and even in sports stadiums all the time, and our eyes and minds and hearts were opened to it then. Your generation hasn't seen dance except on stage, if ever, or in private settings. It's too bad. I say one more anecdote and let you go.

An interesting man was telling me recently that he met a major Tajik dancer who told him he had travelled to Iran over the past few years in search of dance masters who would teach him the original and traditional "Persian Dance." He told my friend in his sweet Tajik accent: "Hatta yaganeh nafar ham nayaftam!" That makes me sad Shobeir. Be good Shobeir.

SERENDIP said...

Nazy jan: That was a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing.

Here is something you might like:
Manics, writers, and bloggers

Aida said...

alaam,Nazi jaan
I just came up to your weblog and almost read all the posts.Great thanks to sharing such a informative issue on dance.Just wondering if there is any tutorial CD or video to get to start learning dance?I am located in a small city in Canada,far way from any Iranian dance studio.

Nazy said...

Salam Aida Jan. A woman after my own heart! Thanks so much for coming and for taking the time to leave a comment. Almost all the dancers I have covered in North America have some type of dance instruction associated with them. On July 13th I covered Khorshid Khanoom Dance Company in Montreal. You can look at all my dance posts here:http://nazykaviani.blogspot.com/search/label/Dance

I know that Shahrzad Dance Company, which is managed by a very talented young Iranian dancer and choreographer named Shahrzad Khorsandi (http://www.dancepersian.org/index2.html) has instructiona videos, at least that's what I read on their website. I will be covering Shahrzad for a blog post soon, and I can ask her the question, too. Check those dancers out and if you are still unable to locate something useful, write to me and I will write to dance gurus to ask! Take care my friend and come back soon.

Aida said...

Many thanks,Nazi jaan for the info.I will follow up and get to you back soon.