The main idea behind the Egyptian Mawlawyiah is the creation of an artistic spiritual ambiance inspired by the Egyptian heritage, and the provision of an audio-visual alternative to spiritual meditative monologues that every authentic art seeks. The use of music and whirl dancing aims at stimulating the individual stamina towards his existence and his liberation from his nihilism by being in harmony with the elements of the universe and all its dispersed meanings. It is an invitation to man to make use of his existence in order to grasp that existence has a universal language despite the differences that emerge on the surface and despite the mixed colors because every part of the universe is intoxicated with the reunion. The Egyptian Mawlawiyah became one of the biggest Mawlawiyah groups in the world, and it met a huge success by attracting a large audience that is culturally diverse both locally and internationally.
The Egyptian Mawlawiyah was established in 1994 by its singer Amer Eltony. He wanted to present the Egyptian heritage internationally to highlight the peculiarity of the Egyptian heritage and its cultural identity. The Mawlawiyah uses all festivity forms that have used whirling in Egypt starting from the ancient Pharaonic celebrations which practiced whirling as a basis ritual during the annual celebration of the resurrection of Osiris. In this ritual, the conflict between good and evil ends, and this is symbolized by the elevation of the falcon Horus that flies and combats evil.
Amer Eltony played a pioneering role in protecting the Egyptian Mawlawi heritage by establishing this group. The Egyptian Mawlawi heritage is a part of the sufi heritage that did not attract the attention of previous generation; therefore, Eltony tried to unearth this kind of Mawlawi art to assure that Egypt has an important Mawlawi heritage.
Meditation through Whirling
The group relies on creating a state of popular spectacle which reflects its philosophy both on the audio and the visual levels.
The Audio Level: The group relies on improvisation as its tool to creating the spiritual ambiance of the show. It is a prelude for both the group members and the audience because it allows for the concentration on the spontaneous improvisation of the unknown Arabian music notes. This is an attempt to delve inside the audience to explore the meanings of beauty and liberate them in the atmosphere of the show while the dancers are whirling in an excursion that sometimes carries the audience to larges spaces, and sometimes the excursion is to the audience’s inner selves to explore its goodness. This takes place through the rhythmic acceleration of the spiritual experience through which the rhythms change their beats from slow to fast then faster.
The circular form of the Mawlawi dance is inseparable from the musical rhythm that represents the audible form of the visual form. Both forms detach from the external world to delve into the internal worlds.
Spiritual music allows for transparency that create in the audience a state of longing that takes it in an excursion from which it returns to reality in a different way. Listening to music is a spiritual excursion that takes the listener in an ascending excursion through the spirit that seeks to reach perfection. The excursion starts with whirling that creates spaces of love within man, thus diminishing his selfishness, in order to find the real path to reach perfection. When man returns back to reality, he is more mature and is more filled with love in order to serve others indiscriminately and with no self-interest.
The sound of the flute has a special symbolism. Its agony is the human agony and his longing to his origin. The music is the symphony that unites the flute/man in this contradictory world dancing to the whirling harmonious rhythms and the rotation of the earth to symbolize the loving unity of each part of it. The reason for the whirling ecstasy is the transformation of non-existence into existence, and the transformation of pain into a red ruby similar to Dante’s palacio in the final scene of the Divine Comedy.
The Visual Level: Whirling for long hours around the center of the circle where the singer stands makes all members of the group unite in high spiritual sentiments that elevates their souls to spiritual lucidity and rids them from earthly emotions. They are absorbed in total longing love that separates them from the material world. The circular dervish dance is an expression of the cosmic pleasure that is felt through the tangency of self-effacement and singing. It is a struggle within the soul to elevate towards the sky and neutralize the earth’s gravity by opening up the heart’s eye to realize the infinity of immortality in order to liberate the dancer’s soul from gravity and to liberate the self from sensual perception that is chaining him.
Performances in Egypt:
- Egyptian Opera House
- Prince Taz Palace
- House of El Sehemy
- El Ghouri Palace
- El Ghouri Center
- Traditional Pottery Center
- Alexandria Ibda’a Center
- El Kretleya House
- Mahmoud Mokhtar Museum
- House of Nation Museum
- El Moezz Street
- Egyptian Museum
- Rokn Farouk Museum
- Mohamed Ali Palace
- Luxor Museum
- Ahmed bn Tulun Mosque
- Sultan Hassan Mosque
- The Citadel – Mahka El Qal’a
- Townhouse Gallery – Rawabet
- Salah El Din El Ayubi Museum
- El-Ghad Theater for Experimental Performances
- Fatma Rushdy Theater
- Miami Theater
- Teater National Center
- Syeda Zaynab Cultural Garden
- Aboul Dahab Cultural Alley
- Egyptian Television Cultural Café
- Syndicate of Journalists
- Al-Azhar Garden
- Spanish Cultural Center
- Jesuit Center in Alexandria
- El Sawy Cultural Wheel
- American Embassy
- Fullbright Foundation
- Athens – Saloniki Theter
-Game Session with George Costantines
-Yeldes Lar Theater
-Ramadan Festivity for Arab Community in Paris and Montpellier
- Game session with Castelini
-Game session with Eduardo Bagnago
-Bloomsperg Theater, Pennsylvania
-Workshop at Pennsylvania University May 29, 2007
-Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi 9th Decemeber 2010
-Delhi International Arts Festival, November 2011
Theater Art Home:
Music and singing in two plays:
-Min Yakol Abouh, written and directed by Dr. Sameh Mahran
-El Gabbal, written by Dr. Hatem Hafez and directed by Adel Hassan
Art Exhibitions Inspired by Egyptian Mawlawiyah:
-Exhibition by Shady Mohamed at Cairo Atelier
-Exhibition by Shady Mohamed at the Cinema Palace
-Exhibition by Shaimaa Reda at House of the Nation
-Exhibition by Mohamed Awad at El Sawy Cultural Wheel
-Group Ehibition by 50 photographers planned for Ramadan 2010 at House of the Nation in collaboration with the Visual Art Department in the Ministry of Culture