chapter  7
20 Pages

Harikat-i mawzun: The post-revolutionary Iranian theatrical dance

Within a few years after “dance” (raqs) was banned for being an immoral cultural practice, a new mode of performance appeared on the theatrical stage in post-revolutionary Iran. Cast as “rhythmic movements” (harikat-i mawzun), this new genre soon became a vehicle embodying the Islamic government’s religious and political ideologies. Appropriated through the renaming and reshaping of the dancing subject, the genre of rhythmic movements was constructed to counter the previous associations of “dance” with immorality, corruption, “eroticism”, and “degeneration”, largely instigated by the image of the “enticing” dancing subject of the popular entertainment scene of cabaret. Embodying chastity, modesty, and spirituality, the dancing subject of harikat-i mawzun has been enacting the narratives of Islam and the revolution. Scrutinizing the dancing subject of the post-revolutionary theater stage, this

chapter traces the genealogy of rhythmic movements to the pre-revolutionary “national dance” (raqs-i milli), and explores its theatricalization of Islamic and mystical themes and performative motifs. Moreover, situating the genre in the post-revolutionary cultural context and in relation to the discourse of “committed” arts, I here study the ways this genre became a vehicle for visualizing holy figures, and realizing religious and revolutionary narratives. Investigating the corporeal purging process and the politics of aesthetics of this genre, in this chapter I also explore the discourses surrounding the dancing body on the post-revolutionary stage.