Iranians Are Protesting Their Government By Posting Videos of Themselves Dancing

In May, Iranian authorities quietly arrested four women. Their crimes? Posting videos of themselves dancing on Instagram.

Modesty laws in Iran forbid women from dancing in public. Last week, one of the four women arrested for her videos, teenage Insta-star Maedeh Hojabri, made what many believed to be a forced confession on Iranian state TV, according to the BBC.

But the authorities' attempt at public shaming backfired: Since the confession aired, Hojabri has become the face of a new resistance movement.


Using hashtags like #مائده_هژیری, which roughly translates to #dancing_isn't_a_crime, people throughout the country and across the world have been posting videos of themselves dancing to show just what they think of these modesty laws.

Some activists have gone to public spaces like parks to take videos of themselves dancing outdoors.

Not all are quite as bold. Several videos have the dancer's face obscured.

People of all ages are getting in on the action, sharing whatever dance means to them.

Men have also shared their support—no matter their skill or comfort level with dancing.

In London, the staff of Amnesty International made their own video to spread the word.


Gizmodo reports that Hojabri and the three other women have been released on bail for now. It is unclear what sentences they face. In 2014, six Iranian girls received a year in prison and 91 lashes for posting a video of themselves dancing to Pharrell Williams' "Happy."

Instagram remains one of the only Western social media platforms still allowed in the country. According to The New York Times, hardliners are arguing that videos like Hojabri's prove that it should be blocked. Clearly, the public does not agree.

Latest Posts


Clockwise from top left: Photo by Loreto Jamlig, Courtesy Ladies of Hip-Hop; Wikimedia Commons; Photo by Alexander Iziliaev, Courtesy Pennsylvania Ballet; Natasha Razina, Courtesy State Academic Mariinsky Theatre; Photo by Will Mayer for Better Half Productions, Courtesy ABT

The 10 Biggest Dance Stories of 2019

What were the dance moments that defined 2019? The stories that kept us talking, week after week? According to our top-clicked articles of the year, they ranged from explorations of dance medicine and dance history, takedowns of Lara Spencer and companies who still charge dancers to audition, and, of course, our list of expert tips on how to succeed in dance today.

We compiled our 10 biggest hits of the year, and broke down why we think they struck a chord:

GO DEEPER SHOW LESS
Christopher Duggan, Courtesy Nichols

I Am a Black Dancer Who Was Dressed Up in Blackface to Perform in La Bayadère

On Instagram this week, Misty Copeland reposted a picture of two Russian ballerinas covered head to toe in black, exposing the Bolshoi's practice of using blackface in the classical ballet La Bayadère. The post has already received over 60,000 likes and 2,000 comments, starting a long overdue conversation.

Comments have been pouring in from every angle imaginable: from history lessons on black face, to people outside of the ballet world expressing disbelief that this happens in 2019, to castigations of Copeland for exposing these young girls to the line of fire for what is ultimately the Bolshoi's costuming choice, to the accusations that the girls—no matter their cultural competence—should have known better.

I am a black dancer, and in 2003, when I was 11 years old, I was dressed up in blackface to perform in the Mariinsky Ballet's production of La Bayadère.

GO DEEPER SHOW LESS

Here's the First Trailer for the "In the Heights" Movie

Lights up on Washington Heights—because the trailer for the movie adaptation of the hit Broadway musical In the Heights has arrived. It's our first look into Lin-Manuel Miranda's latest venture into film—because LMM isn't stopping at three Tony awards, a Grammy award, and an Emmy.

GO DEEPER SHOW LESS
contest
Enter Our Video Contest