Many of you have most likely seen the news about the women-led protests in Iran against the so-called morality police created to enforce Iran’s strict dress and behavior codes. What is now being described as a revolution was sparked by the death of 22 year old Mahsa Amini last September (2022) following her arrest. Amini’s family claims that she was beaten by the police but, of course, they deny the allegations. What many of you might not know is that dancing is also illegal in Iran. For example, a young Iranian couple were sentenced to 10 1/2 years in prison for the simple act of dancing together in public.
This project was brought to my attention by Ari Honarvar, a freelance writer, artist, and author of the award-winning novel “A Girl Called Rumi” and the founder of Rumi with a View. Honarvar and others have organized Global Day of Dance for Freedom on February 10, 2023 in support of Iranian women. The project will include dancers, musicians and other people from all seven continents, including Antarctica, along with several schools, organizations, and indigenous dancers.
Honarvar is a San Diego-based Iranian American dancer who has danced with a multitude of refugees in the United States, Mexico, and Europe. She says that it is her way “of mitigating the effects of trauma, anxiety, and depression.” Honarvar has created this program to help bring in people from Iran and provide them with the opportunities that were denied to her as a child in Iran. One such joy is the act of dancing together, a simple act which she describes as providing the power of healing, and a sense of community.
Those participating in the Dance for Freedom project will help support one of the largest women-led revolutions of our time. Through the Art of Dance, they will help to bring attention not only to what is happening in Iran, but to all social injustices around the world.
“This project has come about as a simple way to support Iranians who are fighting for basic freedoms including their ability to dance without the fear of reprisals from the regime,” Honarvar wrote. “For example, a participant in Uganda will dance for Iran with former child soldiers who’ve recently been freed and are using dance as a way to rehabilitate and regain their childhood. Another person will dance with the incarcerated people inside a US prison.”
In her email to me, Honarvar included a link to her first promo video clip that features people who have been or who could be arrested for dancing in Iran. You may watch this very short clip HERE. There is also a beautiful song by Iranian singer, Shervin Hajipour titled “Baraye” which has become the anthem of the 2022 Mahsa Amini protests. Hajipour was arrested two days after the release of “Baraye. ”
A few of the many organizations that are taking part of The Global Day of Dancing For Freedom include:
Musical Ambassadors of Peace will bring attention to the plight of child soldiers who have recently been freed and are using the medium of dance as a way to rehabilitate and regain their childhood. They will also highlight the struggle of migrant children at the US-Mexico border.
Dance to Be Free, Founded by Lucy Wallace, brings attention to the carceral system in the US. This organization teaches dance and how to teach dance to women who are incarcerated. Watch a short promo video HERE.
Esencia Flamenca Dance Company and School is based in Los Alamitos, California.
Iranian Dance Academy is based in Buffalo, New York.
Dancer, philosopher, playwright, and scholar of religion Kimerer LaMothe lives in upstate New York. She is a pioneer in the field of religion and dance, and the author of several books including “Why We Dance: A Philosophy of Bodily Becoming.”
Parmida Ziaei is a Seattle, Washington based dance artist who was featured in Reuters for bringing attention to Iranian protesters.
Currently based in the Bay Area of California, Shahrzad Khorsandi is a dancer and educator who was born in Iran and grew up with Iranian/Persian dance as an integral part of her life. She is also the author of The Art of Persian Dance.
Delsie Khadem-Ghaeini embodies the love of her Iranian/Persian culture through dance. Born in Mashhad, Iran and raised in Colorado, Delsie is an Iranian (Persian) Classical and Contemporary Dancer based in Denver.
Chuyun Oh is an author, researcher, choreographer, and dancer based in San Diego, California.
Here’s how you can participate.
- Record a 1-minute or shorter video of your own dance creation. Unlike the Islamic Republic, you have abundant freedom on how to proceed—solo or group, with your choice of music & style. Surprise us! Just keep in mind that people are livid and grieving in Iran and would appreciate that which will reflect their mood. Feel free to do a longer piece in case the press would like to feature it.
- Preface your video by saying the words, “Woman Life Freedom.”
- Caption your video with these words: Hello from [your location]. Dancing is illegal in Iran. I dance for Iranian protesters who are risking their lives for freedom. Optional sentence—I also dance for [insert your own cause].
- Use hashtags #DanceForThem #DanceForFreedom #WomanLifeFreedom #mahsaamini #مهسا_امینی
- Help spread the word and share this page. We want toddlers, professors, farm workers, garbage collectors, politicians, nuns, and everyone else to participate. We’re especially looking for indigenous dancers from different cultures.
- Post on Feb 10th and tag @rumiwithaview on Instagram and @rumiwithview on Twitter
If you need more time.
February 10th will serve as a springboard to generate engagement throughout the year. Feel free to share your videos when they’re ready. Your post will inspire others to do the same!
For more information about Ari Honarvar, please click HERE.
Written by Jeff Slayton for LA Dance Chronicle with information provided by Ari Honarvar.
Featured image: Scientist Angela Zoumplis in Antarctica — Photo courtesy of Ari Honarvar