Dervishes and Hoop Dancers/Spiritual Practices As Entertainment

Fire Dancers for hire, fire dancers, hire fire dancers, hoop dancers, San Diego fire dancer

The first article in this series discussed the history of fire eating and its evolution from a demonstration of spiritual prowess to modern day entertainment. This article will focus on another practice, the term for the practitioners of which is quite familiar as a turn of phrase, though often used pejoratively.

The word Dervish, comes from the Persian (Darwish) for “beggar.” The Sufi (Muslim Ascetic) Sect is so called due to the vow of poverty taken by many of them. They are a sect not unlike the Sadhus or mendicant Christian friars. Their vow of poverty requires them to beg, not for themselves, but on behalf of the needy-money collected is given to the poor. It is a vow meant to teach humility. Dervishes are best known, however, for the whirling dance performed as part of a ritual called Sema. It is meant to elevate the mind and spirit.

This moving meditation is performed by pivoting on the left foot (around the heart) with arms outstretched, one palm up toward the heavens and the other palm facing the ground. One can think of it as reaching for the divine while remembering to stay grounded. The circular motion mimics the orbit of the planets around the (life giving) sun. In order to whirl for any length of time, one must achieve a sense of surrender to the inevitable disorientation and move through it.

Modern day flow and fire dancers have borrowed this technique and commonly refer to it as “sustained spinning.” Over the past few years it has become more and more popular, most notably, among hula hoop dancers. In modern performance it is not uncommon to see one of these hoop dancers whirling for several minutes while he or she gracefully flows through a range of postures, in a constantly changing relationship with the prop. The effect is both graceful and hypnotic.


Fiora Firefly has been thrilling audiences of all ages with her dynamic fire dancing shows since 2008. To book her for your next event, contact her at [email protected]

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