Persian Dance • Iranian Dance | Types & History

Persian Dance • Iranian Dance | Types & History

Persian Dance

Dance types in Iran differ massively based on culture differences and areas.

And since Iran consists of many ethnicities, one can find a large variation of dance types ranging from folk dances to complicated dance routines.


researches show that the oldest known Persian dance is a rhythmic routine that depicts the worship of Mithra.

The purpose of this dance was believed to be restoring vigour and energy in one’s life, and the dance included slaughtering a bull as sacrifice.

After the brief periods in which Iran was seized by different powers such as the Arabs or the Greeks, the dance lineage was a little bit lost due to political unbalance and insecurity.

But one of the massive changes in Persian dance happened when the Persian Empire crumbled.

In that time, the Persian females were forced into sexual labour and slavery by the new oppressors that ruled over Iran.

These females were forced into performing erotic and sensual dances for the rulers. This situation went on for a time until Islam took over and banned dance entirely.

Since this prohibition was not taken very seriously from time to time, dance still lived on in the Persian culture.

But the finality of it came with the Islamic Revolution of the year 1979, in which dance was fully prohibited due to the fact that sometimes it required mixing the two sexes together for routines.

One of the most important dance companies in Iran, “The Iranian National Ballet Company”, was forced to disperse due to this prohibition.

The main reason for the banning of dance was said to be that in accordance with the cultural revolution, dancing was thought of as a sin and a corruption of the soul.


Dance Types

To simplify, Iran has four different fields of dance:


Solo dance:

These routines are basically remakes of the dances that came to existence in the reign of the Safavid and Qajar dynasties.

These court dances were mostly improvised.

The form is very tender, graceful and elegant and it consists of many small subtle movements throughout the body such as the wrist circles or arm circles.

War dances and Combat dances:

Fairly different from the Solo dance, this genre relies on power to shine. as the name clearly tells us, the core of the movements in this type of dance imitate a battle.

Chain dances and Line dances:

This genre includes a massive variety of dance types since it refers to ethnic regions. Some of these types are Kurdish, Azerbaijani, Lori, and so on.

Ritual dances and Spiritual dances:

Also known as Zikr, these type of dances usually are performed for things like healing practices.

These dances require music, special movement and trance. a very popular example would be the Le’b Guati, the anti-possession dance of the Baluchi natives of Iran.

This dance is basically a rhythmic, musical exorcism.

The following is a list of some Persian dance styles:

  1. Shamshir-bazi: It literally means sword dance.
  2. Pay-bazi: It literally means foot-dance.
  3. Raghs-e-Baluchi: Baluchistani dance.



Dance to be based on movements of feet.

This dance is seen mostly in zourkhaneh (Persian ancient gymnasium). Zourkahneh means the House of Power in Persian language.

Therefore, this is a dance that conveys strength.



A kind of Kurdish and Lorestani dance.



A kind of Kurdish and Lorestani dance.



Dance with tightening the jingles around the hands or the feet of dancer.


Raghs-e-Charpareh or Raghs-e-Chalpareh:

Another kind of dancing.



Dance with chalap. Chalap is a kind of cymbal that is played in mourning ceremonies. Its smaller size is played in festive ceremonies. Another names of Chalap are Chalab, Senj, Zang, and Tal. Tal is Indo-Persian name of cymbal.


Raghs-e-chubi or Raghs-e-chupi:

A kind of dancing consist of at least two dancers that they beat wooden sticks to mark the rhythm. This kind of dancing can be found in Romania also.



Dance of Sufis.



Dance of Sufis.



Opposite of Raghs-e-Arefan. It is a kind of dance that has not a sophisticated aim.



A kind of Persian folk dance of Ghasemabad region to be located in North of Iran, Gilan province, showing the weeding of farmers.



 A kind of dance to be mentioned in Persian literature.



Place for dancing. Khaneh literally means house and home.



 Dance of Dervishes.



Famous popular dance to be based on movements of bakers while they are cooking bread in bakeries.



Dance to be based on movements of camel.



It means Turkish dance. The most known derivation of this style would be the Lezgi dance. Another beautiful type would be the Diringi, which is slightly less known.

The Diringi is somewhat a similar type as the Persian Reng, as it is light and rhythmic. The Diringi differs in the tempo according to the feel of the dance routine.



A kind of dancing very popular in Egypt. It is called belly dance and in Iran it is called Arabic dance.



A kind of Persian folk dance in suburb of Iranshahr city.

Below are some of the famous dancers of Iran, particularly in the Qajar reign:



 a specialist is raghs-e-chep-chep.



a brilliant dancer. Her nickname says that she was skillful in raghs-e-ba-zang.


a good dancer and specialist in using zang-e-riz (small zang).



a talented singer and dancer and the conductor of a group.

Some of her students are: Malus, Jalis, Turan and Sedigheh.



 a fine dancer and sister of Mashallah who was male dancer and kamancheh (Persian spike fiddle) player.



a great dancer and her sister, Anis, was a good tasnifkhan and dayereh (Persian frame drum) player.


Ghazal and Maral:

 both good dancers.



 a good dancer and tasnifkhan.



a specialist in acrobatic movements such as Mo’allagh-zadan.



a specialist in raghs-e-ard.

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