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Art/Culture/Books

Egyptian Sufi dance sets the capital alight

New Delhi, March 7 (IANS) Nearly a dozen whirling dervishes of the mystic Sufi cult set the stage at the Indira Gandhi National Centre of Arts (IGNCA) on fire with their high-energy religious folk dance and music in the capital Saturday evening.

The dancers of Egypt’s famous Al Tanourra ensemble performed the Al Darawish dance – circular movement of bodies that reaches a crescendo.

The dancers dressed in flared skirts fanned out across the stage. A musician chanted verses in praise of the prophet (Mohammed) to the notes of indigenous instruments like drums, flute and tambourine.

The performance was part of a cultural initiative by Egypt to showcase its centuries-old religious cultural heritage – something that the country shares with India, Egyptian Ambassador to India Mohammed Abdel Hamid Higazy said.

Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor graced the ceremony.

The folk troupe which has been in India for the past week has performed in Chandigarh and Jaipur. Delhi was the last leg of the troupe’s performance.

According to a spokesperson of the troupe, Al Tanourra was set up by the general organisation of the Cultural Palaces at Egypt’s ministry of culture in 1988. “It was formed at the Ghury Palace, which is trying to revive endangered cultural and artistic legacies of the country,” the spokesperson said.

The troupe which performs all the year round in Cairo has travelled to all the major festivals across the world.

The senior dancers who moved around the stage in frenzied circles are called “Lafife” while the junior dancers forming a circle around the veterans on the stage are called the “Hanatia”.

The dance and music are passed down generations, the spokesperson said.

The Al Darawish dance, which dates back to thousands of years, represents the ascent of human soul to heaven. The movement of the dancers coincide with the natural rhythm of the four seasons and the movement of the pilgrims at the Kaba in Makkah.

The packed hall, which was caught up by the natural grace of the dancers and the devotional music, broke into an applause at the end of the performance.

( 356 Words)

2010-03-07-16:14:01