Document Type

Book Chapter


Dance (Pomona), Theatre (Pomona)

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dance, solo improvised dance, group dance, Middle East


A very conservative Islamic country, Afghanistan lies on the eastern edge of the Middle East, to the west of Pakistan and India. Afghanistan is at the confluence of Iranian, Central Asian, and Indian cultural currents, and most groups within Afghanistan have ethnic ties across the borders. Indian elements are the least felt, but the rhythmic footwork of some solo dancing is highly reminiscent of classical Indian traditions. A variety of ethnic and linguistic groups, each with its own choreographic tradition, reflects Afghanistan's enormous cultural diversity. Its dance traditions, however, are scarcely documented. As in most Islamic countries, dancers are paid performers who are often regarded askance. According to Mark Slobin (1980), "both male and female dancing is often associated with potential or actual moral laxity. Dancing boys have long been a feature of Afghan entertainment."


Shay, Anthony. "Afghanistan" in Selma Jeanne Cohen, Ed., International Encyclopedia of Dance, Vol. 1, pp. 26-27, 1998, reproduced by permission of Oxford University Press.

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© 1998 Oxford University Press