Doctors and nurses in Iran are filming themselves dancing to boost morale during coronavirus crisis

In Iran, dancing in public can be punishable by law. 

But in the era of coronavirus, that hasn’t stopped doctors and nurses from doing whatever they can to boost morale.

Healthcare workers across the Middle Eastern country have been posting videos of themselves dancing, often in full protective gear, in hospitals overwhelmed by coronavirus patients.

—Farnaz Fassihi (@farnazfassihi) March 5, 2020

—رضا حقيقت‌نژاد (@rezahn56) March 3, 2020

—Meisam Booshehri (@MeisamBooshehri) March 3, 2020

Iran is one of the countries hardest hit by the pandemic, with more than 29,000 reported cases as of Thursday. However, critics have accused the government of covering up the true numbers.

At a time of fear and distrust in the government, dancing has boosted morale, said Joan Wittig, a professor of creative arts therapy at Pratt University.

“These workers in Iran who are posting these fabulous videos, they’re not necessarily feeling joyful all the time. They’re having a whole range of emotional experiences,” she told Business Insider Today. “And if they allow themselves to start where they are in whatever that might be, in depression, in despair, in hopelessness, in exhaustion, once you start moving … there’s room for new emotional experiences.”

It is illegal to commit an “indecent” public act in Iran, and dancing can sometimes by punished under the country’s strict religious laws. Many of the healthcare workers in the videos have their faces covered with face masks, which also conceal their identities.

The flurry of dance videos is one of many examples of people using dance to cope with the coronavirus crisis.

“Dance is communication, and as such, it fulfills a basic human need,” Wittig said. “We need to communicate, we need to be, in connection with each other. And dance allows us to do that. And it allows us to do that across cultures, across language, there are no barriers.”

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