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Sacred spin

If you’ve been enchanted by the stirring sight of whirling Sufi devotees entranced in a deep state of meditation as they dance, here’s your chance to experience the joy firsthand. Sufi Calling, a workshop in the city, will introduce participants to this mystical dance form practiced by Dervish ascetics.

art and culture Updated: Jul 05, 2012 19:42 IST
Nirmika Singh

If you’ve been enchanted by the stirring sight of whirling Sufi devotees entranced in a deep state of meditation as they dance, here’s your chance to experience the joy firsthand. Sufi Calling, a workshop in the city, will introduce participants to this mystical dance form practiced by Dervish ascetics.



“Turning is a part of every dance discipline,” says instructor Zia Nath, a danseuse who specialises in Sufi whirling, Gurdjieff movements (a form of sacred dance conceptualised by spiritual leader GI Gurdieff) and Odissi classical.



Since the dance style arose out of the Sufi principles of meditation, Nath informs that one can’t separate the two. “Many students come because they are already interested in the Sufi principles, while for others, the dance acts like an introduction,” she says.



The workshop will be held on July 8 from 10 am to 3 am at Temperance, Bandra (W), and is open to beginners as well as advanced-level students above the age of 16. In the first three-and-a-half hours, they will be taught dance movements and centering exercises from the ancient Sufi tradition, followed by turning techniques.



And if you fear that the dance might induce dizziness, Zia allays such worries. “You don’t just start turning right away. First, we focus on finding the body’s longitude of stillness and establish the centre. Then we move to the whirling,” she informs.



The next hour-and-a-half will be spent over a lunch of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine, and group activities that will engage students in the tenets of Sufi meditation.