Varyingly referred to as classical, neoclassical, traditional, or art dance, contemporary Persian professional dance evolved from court dances from times past, and takes inspiration from regional folk traditions and embodied esoteric spiritual practices blended with ballet and contemporary stagecraft.
With a coy demeanor, the dancer’s skill lies in improvisation and the expression of a range of emotions on the spectrum of both spiritual and human love, including including yearning and rapture.
An important characteristic of Persian dance is naz, which is a uniquely Persian expression of feminine beauty characterized by a quality of coquettishness.
Persian classical dance takes inspiration from other forms of Persian art, including miniature paintings, calligraphy, and architecture, as well as regional folk dances. Unlike ballet and classical Indian dance, Persian dance is not codified with a set structure and vocabulary. The highly stylized gestures may convey esoteric meaning, but are interpretive and not structured like the storytelling encapsulated in Indian mudras and asanas. Every dancer expresses the tonality and mood of the music uniquely while staying within the frame and aesthetics of what can be recognized as Persian.
In contrast to Arabic dance with its earthly emphasis on hip articulations, Persian dance is more delicate and features the face, hands, and arms most prominently. The professional dancer’s vocabulary may also include back-bends, floating and gliding movements, as well as complex turn sequences and whirling.