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date: 26 June 2022

Abstract and Keywords

Linking twentieth-century discourse on dance to the staged body, this chapter presents a genealogy of Iranian “national dance” (raqs-i milli) in light of the biopolitics of the national(ist) stage of the Pahlavi era (1925–1979) in Iran. Through the process of heteronormalization of the stage, the transvestite bachchah raqqas and zanpush of the preexisting popular minstrel setting (mutribi) was eliminated from the early twentieth-century modernist-nationalist stage because it embodied an ambiguous sexuality that did not match the ideals of “modern” Iran. Instead, an educated and professionalized female national dancer with balletic moves and a controlled performance of sexuality performed the ego-ideal of modern Iranian women onstage. Often depicted as an angel or a Persian princess, this new female construct enacted the narratives of the nation on the prestigious “national(ist)” stage of the Pahlavi period.

Keywords: Iran, dance, female national dancer, nationalist, twentieth century

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