Rana Gorgani

Whirling dervish

Dancing conference


Dance Conference. Me, Rana Gorgani, the ambassador of Sufi dance in the West, is offering a unique experience: a sensory plunge conference into the Sufi world.
In this artistic creation, my whirling dervish presents different aspects of Sufism, where spirituality, symbolism and socio-cultural reality are intertwined. Through my words and my body, I weave links between the arts: poetry, miniatures, architecture, music and, of course, dance.
This event is not only a transmission of rarely shared Sufi knowledge, but also a dance performance.

The artist, trained in the anthropology of dance and ethnomusicology, I share knowledge of Sufism with us. Far from being academic and pedagogical, this conference adapts to the audience and is designed to be interactive. In a conservatory, the content will focus on music; in a library, on poetry and sacred texts…

Lifting the veil on Sufism

A true mystical quest, Sufism is above all an inner search, a deep listening to one’s being, through meditation, music or states of trance… Dance, the path to understanding the universe, is introduced in particular through the poetry of Rûmî. This 13th-century Persian mystic poet puts Love at the heart of this quest.

“ There are many paths
that lead to God and I chose the path of music and dance.”

- Rûmî -

The links between Sufi dance and the natural cycles of the Earth, the stars, the cosmos and the universe are explored, while also drawing comparisons with other Islamic arts such as calligraphy and miniatures.

“ Do you know why the disciples of love, in the midst of their dancing, raise and wave their arms?
It is the door of divine effluvia that is opening before them at this moment, and with this inspired gesture they seem to be pushing back the whole of creation.”

- Saadi -

This introduction to Sufi dance has a strong feminine bias. In a world where whirling dervishes are mainly men, my identity as Rana Gorgani sheds new light thanks to my particularity as a woman whirling dervish.

The major mystical symbols of Sufism are introduced. They are identical in architecture, miniatures, poetry and dance movements.
In Sufi dance, each gesture carries a strong poetic symbolism. The sun, the candle, the rose or perfume: these metaphorical and sacred elements each have a meaning that nourishes the dancers’ steps.

The countries where Sufi dance is practiced today: Iran, Turkey, Egypt, Afghanistan, Syria or Iraq: the particularities of the dance in each territory are outlined. The historical aspect is addressed, explaining the context in which the dance developed or was repressed. Different periods are covered, going back as far as 2000 BC. our era.
The show ends with a question and answer session.

Dance and music in the spotlight​

The dance interludes flesh out the conference. The Sufi spinning, a veritable upward spiral, touches the spectator in an intimate way, a dialogue from heart-to-heart and soul to soul.
The music plays a major role: the soundtrack, the result of extensive research, reveals the richness of Sufi music.
As an option, a musician can also perform some of the pieces live, bringing the experience to life.

"The power of the body in movement leaves no room for the psyche. It's a new encounter with oneself that takes place. The movement of the turner is the emancipation of the soul. This spinning movement sweeps away everything, the only thing that remains is the breath."

- Rana Gorgani -

Sufi artist, Rana Gorgani expresses herself like a whirling dervish.

A wealth of illustrations

Photographs, reproductions of paintings, soundtracks and even dance costumes: a collection of the highest quality is revealed.

My identity of artist is presenting images from archives that will not be found elsewhere, including Persian miniatures and previously unpublished Persian paintings, some of which date back to the 1930s. It is also reflected in my dance conference.

Some of the soundtracks are recordings made especially for this show, and most of the music is difficult for the public to access.

Texts and poems by Persian authors such as Rûmî, Hafez, Attar, Saadi and Shoravardi are shared, and have been in the focus of my research work for over 30 years.

"To a disciple who said to her : I have travelled a great distance to meet you, The master replied:
It would have taken you only one step, if you had set out from your soul."

- Shoravardi -

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A sensible experience with a universal message

This conference  shows viewers that religion and meditation are not the only gateways to spirituality. Poetry, writing, painting and dance are other possible paths. The whirling dervish shows that Sufi spirituality is not just intellectual, but above all a search for beauty through experience. Sufism is therefore accessible to all, the antithesis of an elitist, closed dogma.

I share a universal message that is present in all cultures and traditions, a message of beauty, love and peace. Also, I am able to give the pedagogy form of Sufi dance. 

"O day, arise,
The atoms dance, the ecstatic souls dance.
In your ear, I will tell you where the dance leads."

- Rûmî -


A lecture on religious art

A course in rhetoric 

A historical lecture

An academic interpretation


An original form of performance

A showcase for Sufi dance

A musical and poetic discover

A presentation of a little-known art form, recognised as a UNESCO intangible cultural heritage site


As part of the Les arts de l’Islam exhibition at the Louvre in Tourcoing

At the conservatory in Joigny-Le-Pont

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