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Anthony Shay

Professor of Theatre and Dance; On leave Spring 2021
  • Expertise


    Anthony Shay is a dancer and choreographer specializing in dances from Eastern Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia. In 50 years of work he has created over 200 choreographies.

    Through the years, Shay has created and directed several dance groups: Village Dancers, AMAN Folk Ensemble (AMAN International Music and Dance Company, Los Angeles, California, 1963–1977), and AVAZ International Dance Theatre (since 1977).

    Research Interests

    • Dance in the Middle East
    • Dance of Eastern Europe
    • Dance as Social Phenomena
    • Gender and Sexuality
    • Fine Arts and Popular Culture
    • Dance and Ethnicity and Nationalism

    Areas of Expertise


    • Folk Dance
    • Belly Dancing
    • Men & Dance
    • Balkan Dance
    • Dance in the Middle East
    • Dance and Ethnicity
    • Dance and Nationalism
    • Dance, Gender and Sexuality
  • Work


    The Igor Moiseyev Dance Company: Dancing Diplomats. London: Intellect Books, 2019.

    These Boots are Made for Dancing: Dance and Authoritarianism. London: Intellect Book, 2020. Forthcoming.

    Ethno Identity Dances for Sex, Fun, and Profit: Choreographing Popular Dances Around the World (Palgrave Macmillan, forthcoming 2016).

    Co-editor with Barbara Sellers-Young, The Oxford Handbook of Dance and Ethnicity (New York Oxford Press, 2016).

    The Dangerous Lives of Public Performers: Dancing, Sex, and Entertainment in the Middle East. (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014).

    Co-editor with J. Fisher, When Men Dance: Dancing Across Cultural Borders (Oxford University Press, 2009)

    Dancing Across Borders: The Americans Fascination with Exotic Dance Forms (McFarland & Co., 2008)

    Editor, Balkan Dance: Essays on Characteristics, Performance and Teaching (McFarland & Co., 2008)

    Choreographing Identities: Ethnicity, Folk Dance, and Festival in North America (McFarland & Co., 2006)

    Co-editor with B. Sellers-Young, Belly Dance: Orientalism, Transnationalism and Harem Fantasy (Mazda Publishers, 2005)

    Choreographic Politics: State Folk Dance Ensembles, Representation and Power (Hanover and London, Wesleyan University Press, 2002)

    Choreophobia: Solo Improvised Dance in the Iranian World (Mazda Publishers, 1999)

    “Dance and Human Rights in the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia,” in Dignity in Motion: Dance and Human Rights (N. Jackson and T. Shapiro-Phim, eds., Scarecrow Press, 2008)

  • Education


    University of California, Riverside

    Master of Arts
    University of California, Los Angeles

    Master of Arts
    California State University, Los Angeles

    Fluent Languages

    • Persian
    • Spanish
    • French
    • Serbo-Croation

    Recent Courses Taught

    • A History of Concert Dance on the Global Stage
    • A History of Social Dance
    • Dance, Ethnicity and Nationalism
    • Dance, Music, Theatre and Sex in the City
    • Dancing in the Balkans
    • World Dance Traditions
    • Arabesque: The Arts and Aesthetics of the Islamic Middle East"
  • Awards & Honors

    Awards & Honors

    Pomona College: Hirsch Fellowship 2012-2014 Rockefeller Foundation Trust for Mutual Understanding, Fellowship for research in Croatia, 2008

    Association of Professors and Scholars of Iranian Heritage, Distinguished Scholar Award, 2007

    Texas Folk Dance Association, Lifetime Achievement Award, 2007

    National Endowment for the Humanities, Fellowship for Choreographing Identities study, 2003

    Congress on Research in Dance (CORD), Outstanding Scholarly Dance publication of 2002 for Choreographic Politics, 2003

    James Irvine Foundation, Fellow, 1998