Qawwali Dance

nbsp;!/6E8AhFH/v/0  Our inspiration for doing a Qawwali was the influence that it has had on modern music and dance in the Indian subcontinent. The qawwali is a group song associated with Sufism mainly prevalent in South Asia. Qawwals present mystical poetry that is charachterized by repetition and music with an intension of creating an intense sense of ecstacy amongst the audience. . In this particular song, we repeated our moves to the dance beat, Allah Hoo.


C W Ernst explains that whilst the Qawali is traditionally a musical theme where dance, if any, is un-choreographed the how the Mevlevi Sufi order has more of a tradition of accepting dance as an integral part of qawwali. He explains that one of the best-known traditions of Sufi music is practiced by the Chrishti order in India and Pakistan and many of the qawwali songs are in Indian languages including Hindi, Punjabi and Urdu. Obviously, being Nepali and having travelled in India it was useful that I could use bring my own culture to this creative project and collaborate with friends who also have roots in the Indian sub-continent.


I collaborated with Aditi and Theresa to dance on a beautiful Qawwali song by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan called Alla Hoo. Our intention was to bring our own interpretation to Qawwali dance choreography by using Indian-themed dance moves and dressing traditionally. During the middle of the dance we sat down. This, I feel represents being grounded and not been too drawn into the experience by keeping the dance as a longing for God and not a mere dance. When spinning, I believe this symbolizes being lost in the transcendental experience and a tribute to the whirling Dervish.



The lyrics sang in the song are…


Allah Hoo:

ye zamiin jab na thii, ye jahaan jab na thaa

chaand suraj na the, aasmaan jab na thaa

raaz-e-haq bhii kisii par ayaan jab na thaa

jab na thaa kuch yahaaN, thaa magar tuu hi tuu


The time when there was neither land nor the world

nor moon, sun or the sky,

[and] when truth was not known to anyone.

At that time there was nothing except you.

Link to complete song:


I find the lyrics of the song go to the heart of understanding of God in Islam. C. W Ernst describes the Quranic theme of the covenant between God and the unborn souls of human beings when God asked:  “am I not your Lord?” (Quran 7:172) “Sufis describe God as having placed a secret into the human heart that they, which is concealed liked a spark in stone but which blazes forth when struck with the steel of sama.” The lyrics of the stanza we danced on speak to a time that God existed and humanity had yet to exist.


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