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  Life   Art  12 Feb 2018  Hassan: The glowing master of Tanoura

Hassan: The glowing master of Tanoura

THE ASIAN AGE. | SANDIP SOPARRKAR
Published : Feb 12, 2018, 1:11 am IST
Updated : Feb 12, 2018, 1:11 am IST

Each move, each step, each expression slowly and steadily bring the dancer closer to the divine power.

From Ismailia, Hassan has taken Tanoura, a folklore dance of Egypt to the world.
 From Ismailia, Hassan has taken Tanoura, a folklore dance of Egypt to the world.

It is said for a dancer, dance should always be a very spiritual thing, a way that connects him or her to the supreme power, the power that has blessed the dancer with the gift of dance itself. Each move, each step, each expression slowly and steadily bring the dancer closer to the divine power. On the other hand there are some truly and completely gifted artists, no sooner they step on the dance floor the floor turns into a holy place and the dancer’s moves become a tool that starts praying to the divine power. It does not take much time for the artist to start glowing that is because the power above starts to communicate with the dancer through his or her dance.

You must be wondering what am I trying to hint at. Well, on my recent trip to the exotic Egypt, I feel fortunate that I met an artist that connects to the divine power as soon as he starts to whirl and spin. In a small town called Ismailia in the north-eastern Egypt lives a dancer who is the master of masters in the dance called Tanoura. Ismailia is situated on the west bank of the Suez Canal and is popularly known as the city of beauty and enchantment. Let me bring to your notice that this enchantment is all because of this magnificently celestial Tanoura dancer Hassan Moora.

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From Ismailia, Hassan has taken Tanoura, a folklore dance of Egypt to the world. The ministry of culture, Egypt has sent him to popularise Tanoura at various international festivals in countries like Hungary, Belgium, Switzerland, Spain, Greece, Nigeria, Thailand, China, Japan and the list is endless.

During my Egypt trip, I saw Mr Moora perform or should I say connect to the divine on two occasions and I was totally in awe of him and his love for the art of Tanoura. He actually glows, shines and glitters when he starts to spin and whirl at a shocking high speed, spreading his hands and simply calling out to the power above. He and all his friends laugh it off by saying the glow is because of the shower he takes before the show or like he says before his prayer.

After his performance or prayer like he says, I took the help of his English speaking friend Khaled Loda and nailed him down for a few minutes to talk to this spiritual and saintly dancer.

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Tell me more about you interesting dance Tanoura?
The word Tanoura simply means “A skirt” in English and Tanoura dance or El Tanoura is a kind of an Egyptian folkloric dance which is very common in Islamic countries. Tanoura is associated with Sufism and is performed by Sufi men at Sufi festivals, but now a days it is also performed by non-Sufis as a concert dance, or at events, weddings and parties. In this dance the dancer keeps on going round like the dervish dance. The whirler wears colourful skirt, with a colour representing each Sufi order. Although in today’s times the multi-layered skirt with effects and lights is mainly used for visual effects and show value.

At what age did you start dancing and why did you choose this particular form?
I started dancing when I was 20. Egypt is a very tourist-friendly country, the initial idea to dance was to show the rich Egyptian culture to all the guests who visited my country. In Egypt we believe that a dancer does not choose Tanoura, Tanoura chooses a dancer. So I cannot answer as to why I chose Tanoura.

People say you go into a scared trace when you showcase Tanoura. Are you a very spiritual person?
I am not at all spiritual, in fact, I am a very practical person in real life (laughs), but when I dance Tanoura I don’t know what happens to me, I go into another world completely, my mind just automatically empties from all the worries of life, in a way it clears my soul and a divine power starts to connect with me and starts talking to me. This talk, this conversation just goes on and on and on and suddenly the music stops and I hear applause. Each time I have danced Tanoura I have only felt the start and the end, what happens in the middle I can never remember.

You have people from all over the world who come to learn from you. How do you feel about this?
I never advertise my dance school, you will never see my advertisements in newspapers, television or social media. I believe the spiritual power that talks to me when I pray through Tanoura, brings people to me without any promotions. I am honest towards my art and grateful to God that he gave me the art of teaching Tanoura to people world over.

How is your dance different from other Tanoura dancers?
To me Tanoura is not a dance, it is a prayer I offer to the supreme, and each time the method I use is different. Sometimes I use 2, 4, 6 to even 8 round-shaped dishes to showcase how problems in life are many but it is our inner power and strength that reduces all the troubles of life. Then sometimes through scarves I talk about emotions of a person and how we can overcome them. And many a times with my hands wide open I offer my prayer to him asking him for forgiveness and requesting him for love and compassion. And at the end of my talk with the divine I simply remove all the worries, anxiety and concerns and throw it out of my body, which the audience calls it a finish to my dance.

You are known as the master of Tanoura. What advice you have for people who dance Tanoura or who seek to learn this dance?
My advice to all those who dance Tanoura or wish to learn it is that: Don’t learn Tanoura to get name, fame or money, learn it to attain power — a power that will connect your soul to the divine. Don’t spin to get applause, but spin to spread the message of Tanoura, a rare message that the divinity will give you while you spin.

I was lucky to see Hassan Moora glow while he danced, oops praying, I cannot even imagine how he must be feeling when he is spinning and praying like he says. This saintly man will soon be making a whirling trip to India, the UK and the US. So wherever you are, I suggest don’t miss a chance to learn from the guru of the gurus and make sure you see the divine man glow when he prays thorough this dance of Tanoura.

Sandip Soparrkar is a World Book Record holder, a well known Ballroom dancer and a Bollywood choreographer who has been honoured with two National Excellence awards and one National Achievement Award by the Government of India. He can be contacted at sandipsoparrkar06@gmail.com

Tags: tanoura, hassan moora