WHERE BANDARI IS PRACTICED
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Those Afghans who are living in Iran are different from those who raised in Afghanistan. You can dance before your cousin in Afghanistan, but you cannot do it in Iran. In Afghansitan it's more difficult to find opportunity to dance. In Iran I can dance Bandari in birthday party, female-centered party. When I am dancing before male relatives or unknown male who were allowed to get in women section of wedding place I sometimes feel I am seen as a prostitute. If you’re dancing with family or by yourself, then people might think you’re expressing your feelings and your happiness. But in other situation, people might think you’re just absolutely a mad person. When I’m dancing too much, people would consider that I’m an absolute mad person. But when people are coming to my house in a party, then if I don’t dance, people will again consider me as a mad person.
In Afghanistan, women cannot start dancing before men. In a wedding party, in a birthday party, in a party, in a female oriented party, or when you’re alone you can dance. If the place were somewhere where only women could get into, then it would be okay, and it would be socially acceptable to both men and women to participate. But right now, it isn’t really acceptable.
Dance is good. Dance is an art not a taboo. When a woman is dancing, it doesn't indicate that she is prostitute.
Gulbargha - This was a dance-based program broadcasted by Ariana TV Network 8 or 9 years ago. In the program, only young Afghan boys were participating. It was structured the same as Afghan Star, but the theme was dance not song. It was shut down because Mullahs put pressure on the owner of the station in order to stop the program and they could make it. Western, Afghan, hindi, Iranian, Arabic dance styles were danced. Those Afghans who are living in Iran are different from those who raised in Afghanistan. You can dance before your cousin in Afghanistan, but you cannot do it in Iran.
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Nomad Dancers dance group perform Bandari. Photo by Ali Khaligh Photography via Nomad Dancers.
Farima Berenji's dancers (Left to Right: Lisa Snow, Heather Hilberry, Cathy Stoyko, Anne Marie Scott and Lisa Hamilton) perform Bandari with Helene Erikesen's 2011-2012 Seattle dance training project. Photo by Al Garman