How To Learn To Dance Persian Style

I love to dance. Doesn’t everyone? For as long as I can remember, whenever my family would get together, the music would come on and the dancing would start.

Iranians are exactly the same. When you’re in a Persian home and the music starts to play, make room! You’re about to see an immediate eruption of dancing, joy and fun.

Don’t worry about not being expert. Iranians not only love Persian-style dancing, they love even attempts at Persian-style dancing, and any guest who tries to Baba Karam will be treated to compliments that would make Fred Astaire, Mikhail Baryshnikov and Michael Jackson blush.

It’s just one more example of boundless Persian courtesy and of the boundless Persian delight in anyone who shows interest or takes joy in any aspect of Persian culture, including Persian dance.

What’s the best way to learn? Find someone who already knows. My teacher was my (much beloved) sister-in-law, Parisa. “It’s all about the arms and hands, Christen!” she’d say, as we’d practice in her living room, twirling, weaving, dancing around, getting ready for the never-ending cascade of Persian parties, especially the endless celebrations around Nowruz, the Persian New Year.

Parisa is a wonderful dancer, but just as every American knows how to throw a football or eat a hot dog, every Iranian knows how to dance. Find one and let them know you want to dance Persian style too. They’ll be delighted!

After that? One word. Mohammad Khordadian. This man is the Alpha and Omega of Persian Dance – a dancing guru of absolute genius who knows every move in the book and has added a few editions of his own! Mohammad Khordadian is the man. He has a set of DVDs that will teach you all you need to know.

And best of all: go to Persian parties and just sit and watch. Trust me; people will start dancing sooner or later.

When I was learning how to dance Persian style, I’d just sit, watch and copy the moves. Sometimes I’d join in and get delighted advice or practice at home until I had them all down right.

That’s still how I do it!

From Chapter 7 of The Persian Wedding Book by Christen Flack Behzadi.

More about Persian party traditions is available in the Persian Wedding Book at