My first experience with a whirling dervish show was on a river cruise ship in Egypt (I think). It was loud, crowded, with cameras flashing left and right. It wasn’t anything to write home about.
Anthony wanted to see a whirling dervish show, and I have to say I had my doubts about it – I didn’t think it would be any different of an experience. I was completely mistaken.
Right after doing the Bosphorus Cruise, we asked around about a show and were directed to go back to Hagia Sophia where we saw an information booth saying there was a performance in a couple of hours. As this was our last evening in Istanbul, it was luckily convenient.
The performance was in a train station with the T1 tram stopping right in front, proving even more convenient. There weren’t too many people in attendance but enough though to encourage a good performance. The show started on time with a haunting instrumental number – a clear sign this would be vastly different from the one I saw in Egypt. It was less flash and considerably more substance, more solemn, more spiritual. The dancing started immediately right after. Apart from the sounds of cameras clicking, it was only the music and the dancers that took my attention. Soulful and with so much expression.
It’s no wonder that UNESCO considers this as a ‘Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity’. For me it drove home the point that no matter how different we all are in how we look and act, we are all the same, searching for meaning in life and how elusive that search can sometimes be. Definitely thankful to have seen this performance in its purest form and am all the richer for the experience.