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Katayoun Hutson, Mosaïque Founder
About Cultural Arts
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“Persian dance” refers to the traditional dances of the country known today as Iran (pronounced EE-RAHN). Persian Dance styles are characterized by expressive upper body movements, intricate steps and dazzling spins. There are a variety of performance and regional styles that share some similarities, however, each style has its own unique flavor.
dance is challenging, yet the fluid movements can seem deceptively
simple. Beautiful arms, hands, and postures are the hallmark of this
style, along with leaning poses and graceful controlled steps, often in
intricate circular patterns. The main variations in styles are
characterized by the dynamics of the many upper body movements and
Among Iranians and students of Persian dance, three popular styles are commonly taught and performed:
Katayoun performing classical Persian dance.
Classical Persian Dance, the lyrical style which developed
from the court dances of ancient Persia
Baba Karam, the amusing social dance performed at parties, typically with a black fedora.
Bandari, the fiery and energetic folk dance with elements of African, Arab, and Indian traditions.
“Belly Dance” (Raqs Sharki & Raqs Balady)
Contemporary belly dance brings together the rich and varied musical, dance and poetry traditions of the Arab world. The music inspires and propels the dancer, with swooning melodies, dramatic moments, and dynamic rhythms. The dancer becomes the music, interpreting the sounds of the instruments and the layers of the music with her movements and steps. Though popularly known as 'belly dance,' Raqs Sharki is the correct name of these dance styles, meaning dance of the East, or Oriental dance.
While countries such as Lebanon and Turkey have their styles of belly dance, Egypt is currently the dominating source of inspiration for dancers worldwide in their quest to emulate authentic styling. Egyptian classical music of the Golden Age (1930’s to late 1970’s) continues to be popular among belly dance enthusiasts and world music aficionados.
Mosaique member, Shukufeh, performing Raqs Sharqi with a veil entrance.
A must in any serious dancer’s repertoire, the music of the great legendary artists such as Om Kulsoum, Mohamad Abdel Wahab, Farid al Atrache, and Abdel Halim Hafez, are standards in classrooms and performance venues worldwide.
These joyous dance styles are performed by men, women and children. They are often very energetic with many spirited steps. Some styles, particularly the men's versions, can even be acrobatic.
While stage shows feature dazzling group choreography with male and female dancers, the women's solo improvised dance, called simply 'beledi' or 'balady' is popular in intimate settings such as night clubs, restaurants and parties.
Troupe Eshveh performing the women's Egyptian stick dance, Raqs al Assaya.
they compliment one another in a dancer’s repertoire, Persian dance and
belly dance are two different dance styles from different origins. A
common misconception is that Persian dance is a style of belly dance.
This is not the case. The fact is, there is no “Persian belly dance.” In the Persian language (Farsi, not Arabic), they often
refer to belly dance as “raghs-eh Arabi," or Arabic dance. However, Iranians enjoy
belly dance music and performances, especially at weddings and
Middle Eastern Music