Turkish Dance

Turkey, a country rich in history and culture, is home to a fascinating dance tradition that has captivated the world: Turkish dance. Among the different dance forms in Turkey, the dance of the whirling dervishes is particularly notable. This mystical and captivating practice is deeply rooted in the Arabic tradition of Sufism, a spiritual path of Islam. Its origin comes from the teachings of Mevlana Jalal ad-Din Rumi. In this text, we will explore Turkish dance as a whole, with an emphasis on dervish dance. We will discover its origins, its deep symbolism and its impact on Turkish spirituality.

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What the press says

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“Original and stunning show, Saturday evening, at the Abbey, in a very full room of the Tree (..) Light and darkness merged in a flow of whirling, the dance revealing with simplicity the links that are woven between the past, the present and the future: the spectator being taken in a whirlwind of sound and light for a journey out of time combining visual creation and astonishing choreography. »
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“Rana: the magic mirror of Sufi dance. ​Inhabited by the passion for Sufi dance, the Iranian Rana Gorgani shares a tradition that connects body and spirit to the universal Source. »

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Turkish Dance: A true cultural wealth

Dance occupies a central place in Turkish culture, reflecting a diverse and vibrant cultural richness. Among the different dance forms in Turkey are regional folk dances and Ottoman dances, each of which has its own distinct characteristics.

Turkish Folk Dances: Preservation of Regional Traditions

Turkish folk dances are a living testimony to the regional traditions and collective identity of the Turkish people. Among the most popular folk dances are the “halay” and the “horon”. The “halay” is an energetic and joyful dance, often performed in groups during celebrations and festivities. The “horon”, on the other hand, is a dynamic dance originating from the Black Sea region, characterized by rapid movements and acrobatic jumps.

These folk dances vary from region to region, reflecting Turkey's cultural diversity. They are preserved with pride by local communities, passed down from generation to generation to men and women as a living heritage.

Ottoman Dances: The Greatness of the Ottoman Empire

Ottoman dances, also known as “saz semai” or “türk sanat müziği”, were performed in the heart of the imperial court of the Ottoman Empire. They were often accompanied by classical Turkish music, creating an atmosphere of refinement and elegance.

Ottoman dances were performed by professional male and female dancers, wearing sumptuous costumes and performing graceful, stylized movements. These dances were often associated with special occasions such as an imperial ceremony and royal festivities.

These dances are a testament to the grandeur and sophistication of the Ottoman Empire, reflecting the influence of the different cultures that converged within the empire.

The Spiritual Dance of the Whirling Dervishes: A Mystical Quest

Beyond folkloric and Ottoman dances, the dance of whirling dervishes stands out for its mystical and sacred dimension. This practice, linked to the Sufi tradition, is a quest for divine union through circular and meditative movements. Whirling dervishes use dance as a way to transcend the ego and connect to the spiritual dimension of existence.

The Whirling Dervishes: A Quest for Divine Unity

The whirling dance of the whirling dervishes, also known as “semah” or “Sema” in Turkish and “Sama” in Arabic, is an iconic Sufi practice. Whirling dervishes are members of the Mevlevi brotherhood, founded by the mystical Muslim poet Mevlana Jalal Al-Din Rumi in the XNUMXth century. Their choreography is a symbolic representation of their quest for union with the divine. The whirling dervish spins around in a rhythmic and graceful manner, wearing a long white robe symbolizing his death to the ego and his spiritual rebirth.

whirling dervishes
Sufi Retreat Turkey Flag

The Deep Meaning of the Dance of the Whirling Dervishes

The sacred art of whirling dervish dancing is rich in symbolism. The dancers' circular movements evoke the movement of the planets around the sun, thus recalling the divine cosmic order. Each rotation symbolizes a spiritual rotation, freeing the soul from earthly attachments to achieve mystical union with God. During the ceremony, Sufi dance is accompanied by captivating music, creating an atmosphere conducive to meditation and contemplation.

The Practice of Spiritual Dance

The whirling dance of whirling dervishes is a rigorous practice that requires dedicated training. Dancers must master the art of rotation, while maintaining balance and grace. Before practice, dervishes prepare mentally and spiritually through prayers and purification rituals. They enter a state of meditative trance, seeking to transcend their individuality to achieve divine union. Whirling dervishes perform their dance in sacred places such as tekkes (Sufi brotherhoods) or semahanes (specific dance halls).

The Cultural and Spiritual Impact of Turkish Spiritual Dance

Dervish dance has a profound impact on Turkish culture and spirituality. It is both an artistic expression and an Islamic religious practice, transcending the boundaries between the physical and the spiritual. It creates an atmosphere of contemplation and uplift, allowing viewers to connect on a deeper level with their own spirituality. It has become a major tourist attraction in Turkey, particularly in the city of Istanbul, attracting visitors from all over the world looking to enjoy this unique experience.

The Preservation and Evolution of Turkish Dance

Turkish dance, including dervish dance, is preserved with pride by Turks. Institutions such as the Dervishes School in Konya strive to pass on the traditions and teachings related to this mystical dance to future generations. At the same time, Turkish dance continues to evolve and adapt to contemporary contexts. Contemporary choreographers and artists draw inspiration from traditional dance while incorporating modern elements, creating new forms of artistic expression.

Rana Gorgani and his contribution to Turkish Spiritual Dance

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Among the influential figures of Turkish spiritual dance, Rana Gorgani stands out for its dedication to the preservation and promotion of this sacred art form. As a dancer and teacher, Rana Gorgani dedicated his life to studying the traditions of the whirling dervishes and passing them on to others. She offers courses and internships around the world, sharing her knowledge and passion for Sufi dance with enthusiastic male and female students.

Courses and training courses Rana Gorgani are designed to allow participants to dive deep into the whirling dance of the whirling dervishes. Students learn spinning techniques, symbolic meaning of movements, and spiritual aspects of dance. Classes also include meditation and contemplation sessions, providing a holistic experience that goes beyond just mastering physical movements.

Thanks to his expertise and passion, Rana Gorgani helps to preserve this sacred dance and pass it on to future generations. It helps the dancer to develop a deep connection with their spirituality and to understand the importance of dance as a means of expression and inner transformation.

In conclusion, the sacred Turkish dance of the whirling dervishes is a captivating experience that transports participants on a mystical and spiritual journey. It embodies the fusion of art, religion and philosophy, providing a path to contemplation, elevation and communion with the divine. Thanks to artists such as Rana Gorgani, this age-old tradition is preserved and passed on to future generations, continuing to inspire and amaze dance lovers around the world.

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