Persian Court Dance
Like Western ballet, “classical” dance in India has been codified and handed down intact from teacher to student for centuries. However, “classical dance” in this sense does not really exist in Iran. Perhaps a more appropriate term would be “court dance,” as the costuming and poses in this style of dance are often inspired by the Persian miniature paintings from the Safavid Dynasty (1502-1722). In a society where dancers and musicians traditionally held very low social status, virtually nothing was written about these arts. Even Turkish music was documented during the Safavid Dynasty, but not Persian music. This lack of documentation makes it impossible to accurately reconstruct authentic Persian court dances. However, those court dancers, who were mostly Christians and Jews from various regions and cultures both inside and outside of the Persian Empire, all contributed to the modern style of Iranian dance that many people call “classical”. Today, we can still see living elements of Persian court dance in modern Armenian, Azeri, and Uzbek dance.