Dance As Activism

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.

Dance Training
Robin Worrall via Unsplash

Social media has made the dance world a lot smaller, giving users instant access to artists and companies around the world. For aspiring pros, platforms like Instagram can offer a tantalizing glimpse into the life of a working performer. But there's a fine line between taking advantage of what social media can offer and relying too heavily on it.

Keep reading... Show less
UA Dance Ensemble members Candice Barth and Gregory Taylor in Jessica Lang's "Among the Stars." Photo by Ed Flores, courtesy University of Arizona

If you think becoming a trainee or apprentice is the only path to gaining experience in a dance company environment, think again.

The University of Arizona, located in the heart of Tucson, acclimates dancers to the pace and rigor of company life while offering all the academic opportunities of a globally-ranked university. If you're looking to get a head-start on your professional dance career—or to just have a college experience that balances company-level training and repertory with rigorous academics—the University of Arizona's undergraduate and graduate programs have myriad opportunites to offer:

Keep reading... Show less
Dancers Trending
Alice Sheppard/Kinetic Light in DESCENT, which our readers chose as last year's "Most Moving Performance." Photo by Jay Newman, courtesy Kinetic Light

Yes, we realize it's only August. But we can't help but to already be musing about all the incredible dance happenings of 2019.

We're getting ready for our annual Readers' Choice feature, and we want to hear from you about the shows you can't stop thinking about, the dance videos that blew your mind and the artists you discovered this year who everyone should know about.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance History
Sergei Diaghilev, who was terrified of the sea, posing with a life preserver aboard a ship. Photo courtesy DM Archives

On August 19, 1929, shockwaves were felt throughout the dance world as news spread that impresario Sergei Diaghilev had died. The founder of the Ballets Russes rewrote the course of ballet history as the company toured Europe and the U.S., championing collaborations with modernist composers, artists and designers such as Igor Stravinsky, Pablo Picasso and Coco Chanel. The company launched the careers of its five principal choreographers: Michel Fokine, Vaslav Nijinsky, Léonide Massine, Bronislava Nijinska and George Balanchine.

Keep reading... Show less

mailbox

Get Dance Magazine in your inbox