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Stanford Colloquium on Dance Studies Roundtable: “Contemporary Scholarship on Dance & Dancers in/from Iran” with Drs. Anthony Shay, Ida Meftahi, and Heather Rastovac Akbarzadeh

May 18, 2018 - 1:00pm to 3:30pm
Roble Gym 139
Dr. Anthony Shay (Pomona College)
Dr. Ida Meftahi (University of Maryland)
Dr. Heather Rastovac Akbarzadeh (Stanford University)
Aisan Hoss

Free & Open to the Public

“Contemporary Scholarship on Dance & Dancers in/from Iran”

Roundtable with Drs. Anthony Shay (Pomona College), Ida Meftahi (University of Maryland), and Heather Rastovac Akbarzadeh (Stanford University)

Followed by a Dance Performance 

Friday, May 18, 2018

1:00pm – 3:30pm

Please RSVP here

Iranian dance genres and Iranian dancers are gaining increasing attention among scholars and audiences in North America and Europe as Iranian dancers have begun to increasingly circulate among transnational dance circuits and social media over the past ten years. The strict regulation of dance in the Islamic Republic of Iran has also recently gained international media attention with the arrest of Iran’s “Happy Dancers” (seven men and women who produced a YouTube video dancing and lip singing to Pharrell Williams’ pop hit single, “Happy”) and with the American-produced film Desert Dancer (2014), an autobiographical drama that depicts the life of Iranian-born dancer Afshin Ghaffarian. Historically and today, dance in Iran and its diaspora has been a site for the projection and production of a wide range of ideologies and discourses, such as those surrounding: gender and sexuality, modernity, nationalism, religion/secularism, high art/low art, Orientalism and auto-Orientalism, cultural preservation, resistance, neoliberalism, immigration, and citizenship. 

This roundtable will feature a discussion with three scholars who have contributed to the growing yet understudied field of research on dance and dancers in/from Iran. Dr. Anthony Shay is a preeminent scholar on Iranian dance whose prolific research has been foundational to the field; his 1999 book Choreophobia: Solo Improvised Dance in the Iranian World is the first scholarly monograph on social and staged dance in the Iranian world, and has been invaluable to scholars and dancers alike. Dr. Ida Meftahi’s rigorous historiographical research on dance in 20th and 21st century Iran is also a major contribution to the field, particularly her 2016 monograph Gender and Dance in Modern Iran: Biopolitics on Stage, which draws from a wide range of methodologies and archives to construct the most comprehensive view on dance in Iran to date. Dr. Heather Rastovac Akbarzadeh’s research builds on the work of these two scholars to analyze the politics of dance in the Iranian diaspora, particularly as they relate to the contemporary Euro-American geopolitics of neoliberalism, immigration, and citizenship.

*Dr. Anthony Shay will join the panel via Skype.

Following the roundtable, Iranian dancer-choreographer Aisan Hoss will perform Iranian classical and contemporary dances.

For presenter biographies, visit:

The Stanford Colloquium on Dance Studies is sponsored by the Mellon “Dance Studies in/and the Humanities” initiative and is generously funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. 2017-2018 co-sponsors include the Office of the Vice President for the Arts, Stanford Humanities Center, the Center for Comparative Studies in Race & Ethnicity, Stanford Global Studies, the Clayman Institute for Gender Research, the Department of Theater & Performance Studies, the Film & Media Studies Program - Department of Art History, Hamid and Christina Moghadam Program in Iranian Studies, and the Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies.

Event Sponsor: 
Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies, Clayman Institute for Gender Research, Humanities Center, Stanford Colloquium on Dance Studies, Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity, Stanford Arts, Department of Art & Art History, Stanford Department of Theater & Performance Studies , Hamid and Christina Moghadam Program in Iranian Studies, Stanford Global Studies Division
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