Contemplative Whirls

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One Saturday afternoon in Istanbul – taxi drivers are pushing their horns, people are laughing in the streets and the muezzin of the mosque nearby is calling the believers to prayer. Atmosphere appears noisy and there is hustle and bustle all around. Except from Dancentrum in Elmadağ, where around 40 people are gathering in order to see dancers turning.

The protagonists in question have been participating in a new dance workshop organized by InEnArt and held by professional dancer Ziya Azazi for one entire week and are now presenting what they have been developing. Azazi is known for his performance „Dervish in Progress“ and amongst others transforms old-established whirling moves deriving from the Islamic Sufi tradition into contemporary dance perfomances.

Elements, he also teaches the participants of his workshops. While whirling they shall be enabled to „go on a journey towards theirselves“, as Azazi puts it. The partly Syrian and partly Turkish attendees are supposed to focus on the power lying within themselves and on ways to overcome own, personal – physical and mental – boundaries.

And although Dancentrum is truely crowded with curious audience this afternoon, the dancers manage to start their journeys after some warm words of welcome given by Christian Lüffe, head of the enabeling Goethe-Institut Istanbul, and by instructor Ziya Azazi. Spectators are becoming silent, when the group starts to move according to the procedure of a whole workshop day. After a phase of warm-up dancers are getting on their feet, the music starts and they begin to spin. They spin and spin, some faster, others more slowly and it can be observed how deeply they are digging in their owns because of their steady motions.

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After a while Ziya Azazi switches the music to traditional Turkish sounds and this leads to the most amazing moment of the presentation: Audience starts to sing along and thereby supports the „travelling“ dancers with their voices. Pure happiness can be seen in the eyes of many observers, while others even start to cry because they are truely taken aback. The dancers keep unfolding enormous energy and some seem not willing to stop whirling with their typical Dervish skirts at all.


When lying on the floor in order to recreate from their exhausting – almost two hour – performance, Ziya Azazi silently places certificates of attendance next to every dancer. These may help them never to forget which great work they have been doing together in just one week.


Entiteled „Searching Traces“ InEnArt is planning to arrange another workshop with Ziya Azazi in Istanbul soon. We will publish dates and application forms here as soon as possible.


Thomas Büsch

Filmmaker, Founding Member and Secretary General of diyalog, promotion of cultural exchange with Turkey. Since 2012 he is also project manager of InEnArt.

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