Monday, October 17, 2011

Khordadian, un-snarkable King of Iranian Dance

I have a new favorite person, and it's this man: Khordadian.

Mohammad Khordadian is a hero. Of freedom of expression, of workout videos. An Iranian-born dancer, choreographer and teacher, his story is a real-life, Persian, non-overrated "Footloose," with himself as Kevin Bacon and the Islamic Republic of Iran as all the repressed bumpkins.

In fact, Khordadian's story is so much better than either the new or old "Footloose" in every conceivable way, (music, costumes, accents, villany, sexual orientation), that I think the comparison is unfair, albeit convenient, so I'm gonna drop it right now. This is a man who can wear outfits like that one up there, make videos like the ones below, and remain absolutely un-snarkable.

Khordadian didn't only dare to dance; he dared to make Persian dance workout videos. He was a taxi driver in Tehran before the 1979 Islamic Revolution. After that, he fled the country and became the first Iranian to form a Persian dance company outside Iran. He settled in Los Angeles, formed a dance studio and made the world's first Persian dance-instruction videos in Farsi. These videos are awesomely fun, even for an English speaker. The music is bitchin, the steps are easy to follow and Khordadian is eminently watchable. 

Through his concerts, videos, parties and workshops, Khordadian became known as the King of Iranian Dance. His videos were broadcast by satellite TV stations run by Iranian exiles, giving Khordadian an audience in his home country and putting the Iranian government on alert. 

His unabashed love of non-gender-segregated dance and obvious homosexuality were (and are) major problems for the fundamentalist Islamic regime, so much so that shortly after Khordadian returned to Iran in 2002, he was arrested and thrown in prison for "enticing and inciting the nation's youth to corruption."  He was barred from teaching dance classes ever again and spent 61 days in prison, where he was subjected to mental and physical torture. After his release from prison, he fled the country once more, first to Dubai and then back to Los Angeles, where he resumed operations of his dance studio. 

Apparently, he lives a normal life still doing his thing and, in effect, sticking it to the oppressive Iranian government. Maybe one day he'll be able to return home without being tortured. Here's hoping. 

In the meantime, he's blessed the sassosphere with a bevy of shiny, happy, totally-Khordadiany videos. If you want to feel happy, watch them. If you don't, keep reading about the current state of Iran.

1 comment:

  1. Considering the fact that Socrates was executed for corrupting Athens's youth, I'd say that Khordadian (what an awesome name, BTW) has some rather distinguished company.