Rana Gorgani, one of the few women whirling dervishes, raises Sufi dance to the rank of spiritual art. This biography reveals the essence of this virtuoso, sometimes called the goddess of Sufi dance, even if it is not obvious to understand the one who willingly quotes Rûmî to introduce herself: “I am neither of the East, nor of the West, neither of the land, nor of the sea. [My place is the non-place, my sign is the non-sign. I am neither body nor soul, for I belong to the Soul of souls.”
Born in Germany to an Iranian mother and a Kurdish father, Rana grew up in France, where she lives today. Music was her first encounter with Sufi spirituality, as she played the daf, the sacred frame drum of Kurdish origin. Sufism then became the red thread of his life and his source of inspiration. This relationship to spirituality is not only a story of origin: whether by practice or by intellect, Rana dedicates her life to this single subject.
Born in 1984, Rana studied philosophy and then theater, entering the Paris Conservatory. She began her career teaching the art and performing in various plays.
In 2008, during a performance staged by an Iranian, his vocation became clear. The piece includes a Persian dance and Rana realizes that she can express who she is in the dance. She gives up everything and starts to travel to the Orient. This was followed by many years of learning in and around Iran, where Rana trained in Iranian and neighboring dances.
In 2009, she founded the company “L’Œil Persan”, the first company to promote traditional dances of the Persian world in Europe. Prestigious collaborations are already underway: with the Guimet Museum for several seasons, but also with the Institut du Monde Arabe and cultural actors in Brazil and New York. If the performances created have a Sufi anchor, Rana takes the spinning only with modesty.
In 2014, to further her knowledge of dance, she began a Master’s degree in Ethnomusicology and Dance Anthropology. She evolves between Europe, where she continues to perform, and Iran where she carries out her research work among the Qashqa’i, one of the country’s nomadic peoples. Life among them is a new trigger: even if they are not Sufis, they live daily as required by Sufi spirituality. Rana realizes that everything belongs to everyone.
In 2016, with the end of her research, she made a decision: not to perform traditional dances anymore. By reproducing these dances which are not hers, she has the feeling to cross-dress. If she goes on stage, it must be authentic. Only Sufi dance allows her to dance as she breathes. Without any certainty except that of following her heart, she strips herself of her old practices.
In 2017, his Sufi brotherhood ordained him master. She refuses this status to honor another commitment. She will transmit this spirituality, but through her art. This demanding choice will prevent her from returning to Iran. It is in Turkey that she will go from now on, where she joins the Mevlevi order, the brotherhood of whirling dervishes.
Regular physical training, teaching Sufi dance and meditation, creating shows, the necessary time to recharge and the opening of a Sufi temple, this spiritual and artistic place unheard of in France: Rana’s agenda is never empty. She who reads in Persian however always finds time to continue to study the writings of Rûmî. All of Rana’s teachings are inspired by the spiritual message of this mystical poet of the 13th century who deeply influenced Sufism. Rûmî invites the being to question himself on the symbolism of love which, for him, is not a feeling, but a quest. The practice of music and dance, a true spiritual path, is the way to open the heart. Other mystical poets such as Hafez, Attar, Saadi inspire Rana’s creations.
Rana’s strength is to take Sufi spirituality into unexpected worlds.
In 2017, she accepted an invitation from Marie-Agnès Gillot, star of the Opera Ballet, to dance in a carte blanche event in Paris.
It is a success and the beginning of many collaborations: Rana dances at the Opéra Garnier under the direction of Dimitri Chamblas for the 70th anniversary of Longchamp; she collaborates with the duo Bird on The Wire; she creates the show Trans-derviche with the group Haïdouti Orkestar; she presents danced conferences in conservatories; she works with the choreographer Mehdi Kerkouche; alongside Simon Ghraichy, she dances at the Institut de France, at the Institut du Monde Arabe, at the Festival 1001 notes…
Year after year, Rana’s art becomes unmissable. Her work is recognized by UNESCO, with whom she takes part in numerous conferences and events in Greece and Canada. She shares her practice with the greatest number of people with the documentary Les chemins du sacré by Frédéric Lenoir for ARTE. She is regularly invited to dance and teach in many festivals in France and abroad: the Festival On danse chez vous of the Théâtre National de Chaillot, the Festival des Suds in Arles, the Balbek Festival in Lebanon, the Al-Burda Festival in Dubai… Through her numerous collaborations, through each of her performances and through her shared knowledge and know-how, Rana is undoubtedly the greatest ambassador of Sufi spirituality in the West.
Aurélie Croiziers de Lacvivier