Document Type

Article - postprint


Dance (Pomona), Theatre (Pomona)

Publication Date



raqqas, the Iranian world, male dancer, dance, effeminacy


In this essay, I will explore the male dancer in the Iranian world, and how he came to occupy this abject position (dance, according to Zainab Stellar, being regarded by many conservative elements in Iranian society today as "the worst possible behavior of an undisciplined body in public, and symbol of all vice" (2011, 235)). Lotfollah “Lotfi” Mansouri, the renowned opera director and producer, recounted at a dinner that I attended (January 27, 2002 Peyvand Organization, San Jose), how one day as a student at UCLA, he entered Schonberg Music Hall and heard opera for the first time. He was immediately enchanted, abandoned his medical studies, and entered the opera program for which UCLA was famous. His enraged father back in Iran called him, “raqqas!”, and never spoke to him again, in spite of the considerable success and fame that Lotfi had garnered in his newly chosen profession as head of both director of the San Francisco Opera and the Canadian National Opera, and guest director worldwide. Raqqas, male dancer, can be considered an insult in Persian implying effeminacy, sexual availability, and general untrustworthiness, enough to disinherit a son.


This is the author's final manuscript - the final published version will be uploaded here once it is published, with the permission of Iran-Namag. See the following link for the Iran-Namag website: