Dance Like An Egyptian

As they spin around their own axis,quite like the planets and galaxies,they depict a union with the universe.

Written by Nupur Chaudhuri | Published: February 4, 2012 12:45 am

Egypt’s Whirling Dervishes bring the traditional Tanoura folk dance to Pune

As they spin around their own axis,quite like the planets and galaxies,they depict a union with the universe. The layered skirts fly high and the endless whirls of the dervish performers leave the audience in silent rapture. The constantly spinning Tanoura folk dancers of Egypt have the ability to put people in a trance,where they are lost in music. After performing in Bengaluru and Hyderabad last year,the Whirling Dervishes from Egypt are now headed to Pune. The duo comprising Mostafa M Mohamed Hamdan and M Kamel Mohamed Hussain from Assuit,Egypt,will perform on Saturday at the picturesque Empress Garden,as part of Ruhaniyat,Sufi and mystic music festival organised by Mumbai-based Banyan Tree.

“The music consists of Arabic Egyptian instruments like Oud and Kannun and has been pre-recorded to suit the format of the festival. Usually there isn’t any time limit to the dance but at Ruhaniyat our performance will last 15 minutes,” say Hamdan and Husain in unison.

While the dancers spin to Sufi tunes,the name Tanoura is inspired by the costume –the skirt. “Tanoura refers to the skirt worn by male dancers and the dance form that has several depictions. It is actually a form of prayer,” reveal the two performers,adding that the skirts have multiple layers,signifying the ego of human beings.

The act has dancers lifting their right hand to point towards the sky,denoting that there is only One Truth — the existence of the Supreme. Subsequently,the layers of skirts are lifted up and then down to depict the struggle of the soul to break away from the material world and other bindings,in order to unite with God. “At one point,we remove the skirt,fold it and hold it in our arms like a baby. We hope that the soul will be taken care of just like a baby. Towards the end,we remove the skirt and rotate it above the audience,which depicts a shower of blessings on the audience,” state the duo,adding that standing straight after spinning constantly requires effort. “It needs a lot of practice,but once you can do it then you never get dizzy no matter how long you continue,” they add.

Looking forward to opportunities of cultural exchange between the two countries,India and Egypt,the two say,“It means so much to be allowed to learn more about the love and music of this country.”

(Ruhaniyat will be held at Empress Garden on February 4,6.30 pm onwards)

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