Sufi dancers performing throughout the world

Sufi dancers performing throughout the world

KONYA - Anatolia News Agency
Sufi dancers performing throughout the world

Konya’s whirling dervish dance group is performing the Sufi dance in Turkey and abroad, mostly in European countries. AA photos

Turkey’s first and only official whirling dervish dance group, the Konya Turkish Sufi Music Society has been bringing the famous Turkish dance to places around the world, from the United States to India and from Luxembourg to Pakistan.

Speaking to Anatolia news agency, Konya Turkish Sufi Music Society Art Director Yusuf Kaya said the Central Anatolian province of Konya was currently drawing great interest as Dec. 17 is the 738th anniversary of Mevlana Jalaladdin Rumi’s death. The poet lived from 1207 to 1273.

Kaya said the group was performing the Sufi dance, known as the sema, twice a week at the Mevlana Cultural Center for the anniversary. He also said the group had been active for 20 years and that interest in Sufi dance was increasing gradually.

The traditional whirling dervish dance events were in high demand from the people in Konya and other cities, Kaya said, adding that the group performed abroad 15 to 20 times a year.

“Our programs abroad are mostly in European countries. We have performed in Luxembourg, France, Germany, the U.S., Pakistan, India and Kazakhstan. We usually stage more than one performance in each country and in 2011 alone we performed nearly 100 times in Turkey and abroad. We are in high demand, especially during the month of Ramadan, and sometimes we perform twice a day.”

300-350 dances performed a year

Kaya said a whirling dervish performs 300-350 dances a year while a dance program lasts between 45 minutes and one hour. “When we don’t have a specific program, we have a repertoire of works in Konya. We work very hard to promote Rumi’s life and philosophy, and to promote Turkey as well. This mission gives us strength.”

Based on the group’s experiences abroad, Kaya said they had noticed foreigners were very intrigued by Rumi. “We receive lots of compliments on Rumi and his philosophy. From the many people we have met after our programs, we have seen that Rumi is well known all over the world.”

He also said UNESCO’s decision to declare 2007 the Year of Rumi greatly contributed to people’s awareness of the great mystic abroad.