"The whirling dervish dance originated in Konya, Turkey, inspired by the songs and teachings of the poet Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi, who lived from 1207-1273. Rumi was a Sufi, a branch of Islam that started in the 8th century. Sufis assert that through their religion they are brought closer to the heart of all modes of belief. Rumi himself was moved to begin dancing in dervish fashion after meeting a holy man known as Shems of Tabriz. The dance, in which he spun incessantly, was done in devotion to Allah and the organic powers of the universe. While he whirled, he repeated the name of god until he fell into a trance state of deep worship".
"The whirling dervish is known as a Semazen. Dervish itself means doorway to god or enlightenment. Sufism is derived from the word for a rough, woollen cloak, its material designed to diminish the superficial pleasures of worldly existence. Mevlevis are the order of Sufis that perform the whirling dervish dance, refered to as the Sema. The leader of the group is called the Sheikh; he often stands in the middle of the room, representing the sun, while the other members dance around him in imitation of the cycles of the planets. The repetition of god's name is the Zikr".
"Whirling dervishes sport a conical hat and a white shirt and skirt. The skirt is made of billowing material that flows out and around the dancer as they spin. The headgear symbolizes the need to seal off one's ego in order to connect to god and the universe. The skirt represents a shroud but also the sky, which is revealed as the dancer removes their black cloak and begins the journey towards spiritual enlightenment".