The Whirling Dervishes are a vivid part of our cultural scene today and revived this spiritual folklore that was forgotten for a long time. This strictly male profession and art has now been shaken up by the young Radwa Saad El Din who with her nineteen years has some courage to face her male counterparts with a head up high.
She began with “Tanoura” in 2008 after meeting Samy El Sawaisy at the Sawi Culture Wheel who introduced her to the magic through a workshop for women. “I was the only one actually who continued and stayed. At first you train without the big skirt-like costume until you know how to spin properly and then how to wear it”, she explains “there are three layers which weigh about 15kg but during the spinning it’s as if they weigh nothing”.
“Today, my dad encourages me intensely and always gives me the push to train and practice”
Not only did she pick up an uncommon hobby untapped by women she also managed to convince her parents who objected her choice by her mesmerizing performance on stage. “On my first stage performance my mother surprised me with bringing my father along who had no idea that it was me performing. I shrieked when I saw him in addition to the stage fright and everyone predicted my failure, but thank God the performance went great. My dad was angry at first but after I finished the dance, I immediately looked at him to find him with a touched smile as he was fascinated by my performance. Today, my dad encourages me intensely and always gives me the push to train and practice”, she comments.
Being a tanoura dancer, like any other professional sport, requires physical discipline and a healthy diet based on energy fueled food and work outs to stay fit and be able to work this effort. This passion has no age limit as long as one is physically fit enough and has passion for beauty.
“The Sufi dances I perform have meanings. When you raise your hands, that means you’re praying and when you raise one hand and the other by your side that means the soul is between the sky and the earth.”
Tanoura is not just a dance it stands for so much more. “The Sufi dances I perform have meanings. When you raise your hands, that means you’re praying and when you raise one hand and the other by your side that means the soul is between the sky and the earth. It depends on the “Inshad” you hear, there is a “Monshed”, the person who sings in the background and I get the inspiration from him. The “Mawalwaleya” is another Tanoura group, who wears the white costumes not the colored ones”, Radwa tells. “Usually during Ramadan and Islamic feasts is our high season as it’s a folkloric dance and it’s popular in social gatherings on these occasions” she adds.