Saturday, May 30, 2020 | Last Update : 11:51 PM IST

67th Day Of Lockdown

Maharashtra62228269972098 Tamil Nadu2024611313157 Delhi173877846398 Gujarat159448611980 Rajasthan83654855184 Madhya Pradesh76454410334 Uttar Pradesh74454215201 West Bengal48131775302 Bihar3359120915 Andhra Pradesh3330223460 Karnataka278189448 Telangana2256134567 Punjab2197194942 Jammu and Kashmir216487528 Odisha17239779 Haryana172194019 Kerala11515659 Assam9361044 Uttarakhand493794 Jharkhand4621914 Chandigarh3641894 Chhatisgarh364830 Tripura2421650 Himachal Pradesh223634 Goa68370 Puducherry49170 Meghalaya20121 Nagaland1800 Manipur540 Arunachal Pradesh210 Mizoram110 Sikkim100

Whirling with grace

Published : Jan 19, 2019, 6:30 am IST
Updated : Jan 19, 2019, 6:30 am IST

Dancer Zia Nath talks about her soulful mystical journey and her initiative of introducing the whirling dance community to Mumbai.

Arriving to the Bay, the whirling dance community is a nod to the compelling art seekers who want to experience or learn how to whirl.
 Arriving to the Bay, the whirling dance community is a nod to the compelling art seekers who want to experience or learn how to whirl.

With their arms wide open, right hand directing to the sky ready to receive God’s alms and the left hand towards the earth conveying the spiritual gifts to those witnessing the Sema – the whirling dance, the dancers certainly transport the audience to the land of the mystics. The religious dance of Dervishes – a small group of people following the legacy of the 13th century old Islamic sect of Turkey– is soon to find home in the city with the debut of the whirling dance community. Performed in long white dresses and expressing love and devotion to God, Sema is being curated by veteran whirling dancer Zia Nath under Thriive Art and Soul.

Arriving to the Bay, the whirling dance community is a nod to the compelling art seekers who want to experience or learn how to whirl. “This is an initiative to create a caravan of whirling, meditating dancers and a community of whirlers to share a soulful, mystical experience,” says Zia. The interactive session by Zia aimed to teach the participants the art of whirling along with a short ethereal whirling performance.

Practicing this dance form for more than two decades, Zia believes her dance is like meditation. “It looks like a dance because of the grace, the music, and the rhythmic movement of the whirling skirt, but actually it’s not a dance. It’s a beautiful, graceful meditation in motion. It’s not possible to whirl without the meditative element,” she explains. She also adds that as a performer when one gets into the practice of whirling, the stable turning-motion of the body starts to create an organised force around itself. She further elucidates that her approach towards the dance has evolved over the years and she positions it from her heart, saying, “It’s still mysterious, wondrous and new; every whirling experience opens up new dimensions.”

According to Zia, this dance makes her feel grounded, free and spacious within – like meeting the wondrous sky. “It felt like this when I first started whirling. It still feels like a mystical realm to explore endlessly,” she recalls. However, her sense of technical knowledge has evolved over the years and she tries to master all that she witnesses with the changing time. “I’m less fearful. I have better balance and stamina, so I try many more different variations and styles of whirling,” she claims. And now, she refers her dance as the Whirling Mandala – a circle within circles – never ending, “As there is so much to experiment in a simple turn.”

One wonders how Zia, originally an Odissi dancer, transitioned into a whirling dance proponent. While Odissi is considered to be an ancient dance, whirling is a mystical meditation practice. However, for Zia the two dance forms that have different origins are in fact complementary to each other. “Both have different practice and trainings. One is very earthy and the other really lifts you off the ground, so both are complementary to each other,” expresses the dancer. Concluding the conversation, she further says that in her performances, the diversity of both the dances add another dimension of sustained spaciousness. “I like to showcase this diversity and the fact that the sacred experience is really one and the same, no matter which part of the world it comes from,” she signs off.

Tags: zia nath