Plymouth, England, is set to play host to a unique multi-media immersive dance performance that mixes the metaphysical 13th century Islamic tradition of the Whirling Dervishes of Turkey with the vibrant dance of traditional Spanish flamenco, all set against the reactive backdrop of Europe’s only awe-inspiring 15 metre immersive dome. Entitled Digital Dervish + Flamenco Sonic, the performances will take place in Plymouth’s Market Hall dome on Friday 6th and Saturday 7th May.
The multi-disciplinary, cross-cultural event is created by arts collective Firoza and produced by composer and designer Hedy Hurban with an original 360 film made by globally-renowned artist/filmmaker Kaz Rahman. The event is hosted by Real Ideas Organisation, the social enterprise which developed and now runs the Market Hall and immersive dome. The two-night event forms part of the Firoza collectives’ ambition to provide a fresh approach to contemporary Islamic Art that brings together new painting, photography, installation, multimedia, film and video art and performance works in curated projects around the world and online. Real Ideas’ immersive dome is the first-of-its-kind in Europe and as such, the Plymouth location offers experiences at the cutting edge of immersive tech, as well as a backdrop for ‘cultural and creative collisions’ such as this global performance- variations of this project will also be showcased in Turkey and Canada.
Hedy Hurban is a designer of costumes and composer of electronic/electroacoustic music. Her interest in interlacing sonic and digital art with traditional folk performance practices led her to create a prototype body instrument inspired by the Whirling Dervishes of Turkey called Dervish Sound Dress (2018) that combines music, wearable body technology and live performance. She has since developed a wearable musical body instrument device called the Sound Drop which will be used by both dancers in the show. Hedy has a BFA in Visual Arts from York University (Toronto) and a ResM in Computer Music from the University of Plymouth and is currently associate lecturer in Digital Art and Technology. Kaz Rahman has worked extensively as Visual Artist, Filmmaker and Academic with both commercial and public institutions, festivals and broadcasters over the last 20 years. Rahman has an MFA in Media Arts (writing/directing) from City College (CUNY), New York City and has taught at universities and colleges around the world.
Hedy Hurban says, “The sema of the Dervish blurs the lines between dance and meditation while symbolically expressing the formation of the universe and mans’ transference of love and respect to God. This ritual turning practice of the Mevlevi Sufi Order dates back to the 13th century to Muhammed Celaleddin better known as Mevlana. The duende is the expression of the soul for a Flamenco dancer- a flame that is provoked when in a state of ecstatic movement. Duende is not a tangible concept but one that is felt throughout the body and conveyed through passionate and striking movements.”
Hedy continues, “Digital Dervish and Flamenco Sonic is a story about a Dervish who is in a dream and wakes up to birds and the sounds of nature – he begins to meditate and perform his Sema. He becomes enveloped in a storm of chaos as he whirls wildly and then collapses where he becomes dormant again. A Flamenco dancer notices and begins to move in similar patterns attempting to awaken him. They exchange their sounds and movements until they become intertwined in whirling. This is a story about landscape, earth, love and life that encompasses music, imagery and physical movement.”
Real Ideas’ CEO Lindsey Hall says, “This is exactly the kind of cross-cultural, cross-platform, multi-art opportunity that gets us really excited. We have created Europe’s only immersive dome of this size to be able to allow artists and performers like Hedy to fully realise their ambitions of combining traditional performance arts with ultra-cutting edge technology and to bring this all alive on the 360 stage, set within Market Hall’s immersive dome.
Lindsey continues, “Within these performances Hedy’s dancers are wearing the Sound Drop device, and the gestures which are specific to these Islamic and Spanish dance traditions are being highlighted and augmented onto the dome. The device tracks certain movements from the performer to which sounds and LED lights are mapped, meaning the device becomes an extension of the body- a musical instrument as such, that can provide layers to the separate pre-recorded music composition. All of this has never been experienced in the South West before and we are honoured to be bringing this innovative, cross-cultural showcase to Plymouth.”