Iranian Folk Dance

Gilaki dance with the Saja Middle-Eastern Dance Company at Cal Poly

This workshop series features and introduction to Iranian regional and folk dances.

Kurdish ~ The Kurds of Iran inhabit West Azerbaijan, Kermanshah Province, Kurdistan Province, and Ilam Province.  Music and dance are central to their cultural identity and are incorporated into many aspects of life. Unusual compared to most other dance traditions in the region, women and men dance together, holding hands or otherwise linked in circles, lines, or semi-circles. In this workshop participants will learn an upbeat choreography to music by The Kamkars, a Kurdish-Iranian family from the city of Sanandaj, the capitol of the Kurdistan province of Iran.

Gilaki/Ghasmabedi – Ghasamabedi is a harvest dance from Gilan, a very lush region in northern Iran know for its rice, tea, and tobacco cultivation. The women wear full skirts with colorful ribbons and dance with flat baskets in a circle, miming activities related to rice-sorting, socializing, and enjoying music and dance together.

Qashqai – The Qashqai are semi-nomadic peoples of Turkic origin renowned for their beautiful carpet weaving. Their dance utilizes scarves and is simple and joyful.
Azeri – The women’s styling is characterized by long arms, articulated wrists, and a floating elegance. It is popular to see a daff (frame drum) used as a prop in contemporary choreography. This workshop will feature a choreography in the Azeri-Iranian style.

Bandari ~ The Bandar region of southwestern Iran is located near the Persian Gulf and shares cultural similarities with the neighboring Gulf countries of the Middle East. A port region that has seen many travelers, traders, and immigrants, Bandari music and dance shows a blend of Arab, African, and Indian influences, with movements highlighting rapid hand and shoulder shimmies, hip isolations, and hair tosses as would be found in neighboring khaleeji dance.

Jaheli/Baba Karam (Tehrani Urban Dance) ~ Baba Karam is a humorous early 20th century urban dance in affectionate imitation of the jâhels, a macho gangster-like working class character that holds a special place in the heart of Iranians. Popular at Iranian social and celebratory gatherings, Baba Karam is performed as an improvisation dance by both men and women in urban environments and diaspora communities. Characteristic western-style men’s clothing, including a fedora, neck scarf, and jacket are often utilized. In this workshop you will learn about the fascinating history of this dance and its relationship to both film history and the Zurkhaneh “House of Strength”.

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