[By Shideh] The art of dancing is truly a gift. It is an amazing feeling – the power in group dances – especially the ones with lots of energy, movement, singing, colors, and joy. I only saw these dances in Indian movies when I was a kid – we never had that experience growing up in Tehran. It seems as if Tehran is the America of Iran, where many people from different villages, cities, and provinces migrate to in order to provide better opportunities for their next generation. It is a busy city with lots of people, high rises, and traffic jams. Tehran has become the melting pot for the country, a city where people from all sorts of backgrounds, cultures, languages, and costumes from around the country migrate to and learn to live next to each other. But in many cases, these individuals sadly forget their own backgrounds and costumes. As a result Tehran may have lost its own unique identity. Perhaps it’s hard to define it or perhaps this is what Tehran’s identity is: a melting pot. But why didn’t I, as a Tehrani girl, ever experience a Tehrani group dance like kids who lived in Gilan, Mashhad, south Bandars, or the nomads of Qashghai experienced?
photo courtesy of Ballet Afsaneh
Now in Berkeley, I am learning dance techniques of classic Persian, Qashqhai, Gilani, Tajik, and Afghani for the first time! And I realize what I had missed all my life. There is so much energy and unity in these dances that words can’t express.
Why not come up with a Tehrani group dance that can create this sort of synergy among the youth of this city? I would argue that group dance would help solve many of the problems that young people are currently facing, such as group work, confidence, and hope. In order not to cause any problems, the classes could be designed for males and females separately. And this group dance could be colorful even though Tehran and most other cities in Iran have widely lost their old costumes and are using western outfits. And even though most people in Tehran seem to have become extremely “black” oriented – meaning they mostly or only wear dark and black dresses and mantos (overcoats). Perhaps new costumes and dresses could be designed that fit in with the exiting young culture of Tehran – costumes that are a combination of old Iranian and Western styles, but with lots of colors this time. Imagine what a beautiful dance that would be!