Sufi Dance Q&A: Learning How to Whirl

One of my dear students asked me some questions about Sufi Dance and the Sama as a follow up to our time in an immersive workshop at The Rowe Center. Here are my answers… 

Q: There are many Sufi orders, and among them, one of the most known is Mevlevi. Do your company’s method and philosophy take from Mevlevi?

A: Yes it does, but I have been guided to innovate the method and simplify the technique so people can learn it faster and smoother. I teach the philosophy of the Mevlevi and what I have received from my 20+ years of whirling. I also bring back the Sama of Rumi and Shams that we believe was wilder and freer than the extremely structured Mevlevi Sama developed primarily by Rumi’s son and not Rumi himself. Some say the Mevlevi Sama as seen today was established more or less 300 years after Rumi’s life.

Q: I have a question about the style of sema. At first, one bows to the place where he/she whirls, with one’s arms crossed and palms grab shoulders, then when one starts whirling, one slowly moves crossed arms to the heart center, and one extends right arm to the heaven, left arm to the earth. Is this correct at the beginning?

A: At first you stand with your right arm crossed over your left, hands gently resting on your shoulders. You then go down in reverence, bowing to that which you revere most. Then you stand and begin to take your steps. When you are ready you slowly lift your arms letting them blossom like a flower. You raise your right arm up, with your palm facing up and your left arm down with your palm facing down. You receive the light from Spirit with your right palm and you give the light with your left palm to the Earth and all its creatures and all people mediated through your heart.

Q: At the end, where do you place your arms? At the heart center with palms on your shoulders?

A: Either place is fine, but try to bring them back to the position you started which is on your shoulders. You then bow down and finally go down into child’s pose, bring your forehead to the ground, kiss the Earth and touch your forehead on the ground again, giving your reverence to the Earth, to the very spot you were whirling.

Q: I would like to know the name and the supplier of the Sufi women’s dress for whirling. I can’t find it in Japan.

A: There really is no supplier. I have had mine all custom made. I’m thinking of having some dresses available for people to purchase on my website, but that may take a while. I suggest you look at this website and also search further for liturgical dance dresses.

 

Email with any questions, and see my calendar for upcoming workshops, including Sufi Dance of Oneness® at Menla!

 

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