Miriam Peretz is a lifelong dancer and martial artist who has worked internationally as a performing artist and instructor. Miriam spent over fifteen years immersing in Central Asian dance, performing as a soloist with a Bay Area dance company, Ballet Afsaneh, as well as touring with master musicians of the genre. She directs Nava Dance Collective and Nava Dance School. As a child of mystics and a practicing dervish, Miriam sees dance as a uniquely powerful means of expressing deep emotion and spiritual yearning, and therefore the perfect embodiment of prayer. Miriam’s signature style draws heavily on Central Asian dance, devotional whirling practices, and sacred dance rituals from around the world. Her movement quality and aesthetics also incorporate her many years of martial arts training, contemporary dance, Flamenco, and many other world dance forms.
The practice of whirling as a form of prayer has been around for thousands of years and was especially known as a practice in ancient Persia, however the practice became highly codified and formalized as a spiritual path during the time of the great poet Mevlana Jelalladin Rumi. Since then the path of the whirling dervishes as well as the intoxicated poetry of Rumi and other mystics of his time have spread throughout the world. Also known as “The Path of Love,” the Sufi path has a strong focus on reaching the beloved (god) through embodiment.
“Parvaneh,” or “moth” in the Farsi language, is an important symbolic creature in Sufi mystical poetry. It represents the yearning and seeking of the dervish (spiritual seeker on the Sufi path) to unite with the beloved. The moth circling the flame until it surrenders itself and burns up in the flame, is a metaphor for the dervish who circles and searches their whole life to unite and become one with the flame, and dissolve into the divine.
Straddling and connecting the worlds of dance and spirituality is a theme that Miriam has been exploring her whole life. Dancing or even walking within the labyrinth is a path of releasing, receiving, and returning. The opening section of the dance uses a large white silk veil that represents the wings of the moth. At a certain point the wings are shed and the dancer goes into a whirling prayer dance expressing the longing to dissolve into the divine. White is a traditional color to wear for whirling rituals both from the ancient times of Mithraism, as well as from the Whirling Dervish traditions in Turkey.
Cultural or Ethnic Identity of the performance piece:
Sufi Mystical Dance
Title of Piece:
Music – Mithra/Samsara • Shahrokh Yadegari (composer) • Azam Ali (vocals) • Keyavash Nourai (violin)