Digital Dervish + Flamenco Sonic

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Digital Dervish & Flamenco Sonic

A Multimedia Performance Work by Hedy Hurban

Digital Dervish is a story about a Dervish who is in a dream and wakes up to birds and the sounds of nature- he begins to meditate and perform his Sema. He becomes enveloped in a storm of chaos as he whirls wildly and then collapses where he becomes dormant again until he eventually rises to embrace the mayhem. This is a story about landscape, earth, love and life that encompasses music, imagery and physical movement.

Digital Dervish is a performance art project that was inspired by live performances of Mevlevi Dervishes and their sacred turning practice called sema in Istanbul, Turkey. The sema of the Dervish blurs the lines between dance and meditation. This ritual turning practice of the Mevlevi Sufi Order dates back to the 13th century to Muhammed Celaleddin better known as MevlanaDigital Dervish augments traditional movements that are specific to how a Dervish turns with sound and tactile vibrations- long established actions which are key features of the practice can be emphasised by attributing specific sounds to movements. Digital Dervish can also collaborate with other global performance styles that may have attributes and similarities such as motion and movement based on symbolism and metaphysical meaning. One current version of the performance work is linking Spanish Flamenco dance with the Dervish to create new movements, styles and ideas. The gestures which are specific to these dance traditions are being highlighted and augmented with an original wearable device called a Sound Drop.


Hedy Hurban is a designer of costumes and composer of electronic/electroacoustic music. She showcased her collections at DSYN O4 (Delhi, India) and has designed the costumes for the Operas Lampedusa (Plymouth, UK) and The Mother of Fishes (Pittsburgh, USA). Hedy is music composer for several short films such as Dead Body, Grand Theatre and Picture Palace, Bees Mecanique, the TV episode Green and Blue and the feature films Salaat and Deccani Souls. Her interest in interlacing sonic and digital art with traditional folk performance practices led her to create a prototype body instrument inspired by the Whirling Dervishes of Turkey called Dervish Sound Dress (2018) that combines music, wearable body technology and live performance. She has a ResM in Computer Music from the University of Plymouth and is currently associate lecturer in Digital Art and Technology.

Kaz Rahman is a Visual Artist and Filmmaker whose work has played in film festivals and venues such as Anthology Film Archives (New York City), National Film Board of Canada (Toronto), India Habitat Centre (New Delhi), Salar Jung Museum (Hyderabad), Andy Warhol Museum (Pittsburgh), The San Jose Museum of Art (California), Bogazici Film Festival (Istanbul), SUFICINE Festival (Konya) and broadcast on TV24 (Turkey) and has been featured in publications such as The Times of India, The Hindu, The New Indian Express (India), Daily Sabah and Star Gazette (Turkey). His style explores themes such as time, memory and narrative dreams as well as the convergence of fiction/documentary. Rahman has an MFA in Media Arts (writing/directing) from City College (CUNY), New York City and has taught at universities and colleges in Hyderabad, Pittsburgh, Istanbul, Plymouth and Canterbury (UK).

Mayez Rahman is a student at Lipson Co-operative Academy in Plymouth. He has lived in both Pittsburgh, USA and Istanbul, Turkey where he first took encountered the traditions of the Whirling Dervishes. His interests include designing video games and all aspects of computer programming.

Seyit Sercan Çelik is a contemporary Dervish from Istanbul who began performing Turkish Folkloric dance when he was 9. He is also grounded in the historical sacred traditions and rituals of the Turkish Mevlevi which he has been performing over the last decade. His own interpretations both with groups and solo have been performed extensively in Turkey, Eastern Europe, Russia and the Balkans, as well as Spain, Japan, India, Malaysia, and Bangladesh. He has performed as a dancer in the opening and closing ceremonies of several major organisations through the International Olympic committee of Turkey. Çelik graduated from Sakarya University State Conservatory (Turkish Folk Dance) in 2014 and has conducted workshops in universities and conservatories in Turkey. This is his first performance in North America.

Mercedes Romero is a professional Flamenco dancer, teacher and choreographer. She graduated from the Conservatory of Alicante, Spain (Spanish Dance and Flamenco and Classical Ballet). She has performed and taught for over 25 years in Spain, Mexico, France, Italy and England with various dance companies such as Ballet Teatro Español de Rafael Aguilar, Ballet Español y Flamenco Martin Vargas, Ballet de Carmen Mota, Ballet titular Teatro de la Zarzuela and Teatro de la Maestranza. She is based in Plymouth and has performed at venues throughout the region with her group Flamenco Vivo as well as  Flamenco Amigos.

Carolina Loyola-Garcia is a multidisciplinary artist, filmmaker and performer. She works primarily in media arts, including video art and installation, video design for theater, documentary and digital photography. She produced and directed the documentary film Sobre las Olas: A story of Flamenco in the U.S. (2013), which offers a comprehensive view of the art of flamenco in the United States. She received her MFA from Carnegie Mellon University and is Professor of Media Arts at Robert Morris University. As a performer she has worked in theater productions, dance ensembles and as a flamenco artist. Loyola-Garcia has worked with Quantum Theatre in the productions of The Red Shoes (2007), Maria de Buenos Aires (2011), Ainadamar (2012), Mnemonic (2013), and Looking for Violeta (2019) as well as Attack Theater’s production of the Rube Goldberg Variations (2019). She is also lead dancer and singer with the ensemble Alba Flamenca and performs all through Western Pennsylvania, Eastern Ohio and Western NY.

Pepa Sanz is a versatile dancer and choreographer who has worked with directors and artists of various styles and discipline and has been collaborating for more than two decades in pioneering, audacious and innovative projects in Spanish Dance and Flamenco. Her most outstanding pieces have been presented at festivals such as Bangkok International Dance Festival (Thailand), Festival de Artes Escénicas Contemporáneas El Cruce (Argentina), Festival Escenarios del Mundo (Ecuador), Quinzena de Dança de Almada (Portugal) and Black Box International Theater and Dance Festival (Bulgaria). She has been awarded the UNESCO Aschberg Bursary and several of her choreographies have won the Choreographic Contest of Madrid. She recently received the Award for Best Direction with dancer/choreographer and collaborator José Merino for the play Bendita Rutina at the XVII Festival de Teatro y Danza Independiente de Santander, INDIFEST 2022 in Spain.

Barış Çelik’s work in visual effects and as a colourist reflects his interest in graphic design and illustration. He has a BA in Cinema from Istanbul Sehir University and his work has been part of award-winning short films both within Turkey and internationally. He is currently Video Editor at Bonte Digital (Istanbul) and Charminar Films (Canada/UK) and is associate lecturer in film editing/montage at Istanbul Medipol University.


The soundrop is a small device that is attached to the body via a strap on the wrist or ankle. It is designed to track certain movements from the performer to which sounds and LED lights are mapped. The dancer uses the device as an extension of the body- a musical instrument that can provide layers to the separate pre-recorded music composition.


ISEA Barcelona, June 10-16, 2022; International Symposium on Electronic Art, Paper presentation: A Sonic Exploration of Spanish Flamenco and the Whirling Dervishes of Turkey with Wearable Technology.

TECHNARTE Bilbao 2022; International Conference on Art and Technology, Spain, February 22-25. Invited guest speaker: Intersections of Cultural Performance Practices and Wearable Technology.

Generative Art Conference, 24th Edition, Caligari, Italy, December 15-17, 2021; An Exploration of Sound, Digital Art, Performance, and Wearable Technology Inspired by Traditional Whirling Dervish Movement and Flamenco Dance.

The International Academic Forum (IAFOR) Kyoto Conference on Arts, Media and Culture, November 9 -12, 2021, Exploring the Intersections of Cultural Performance Practices and Wearable Technology.

Music and Sciences Symposium, ITU Technical University Istanbul, Turkey. April 17-19, 2019; Lecture Presentation: Wearable Technology Garments for Use in New Musical Performance Practices.

Musicology Symposium, Sarajevo, Bosnia Herzegovina, October 25-27, 2018; Lecture Presentation: Dervish Sound Dress; Exploring Digital Cultures Through Wearable Technology.

SMC 2018 Sound and Music Computing Conference, July 4, 2018, Limassol Tech University, Cyprus (Greek); Lecture Presentation: Dervish Sound Dress; A Wearable Interface Using Haptic Vibrations and Computer Music.

ETT2018 8th International Istanbul Textile Conference, Istanbul, Turkey, April 12, 2018; Lecture Presentation: The Dervish Sound Dress; An Exploration of Wearable Technology and Sound Design.

Leonard, N., Way, A., Santune, F. 2020 Web and Digital for Graphic Designers (Book), Bloomsbury Visual Art. (Contribution of my work in wearable technology and a synopsis of the project Dervish Sound Dress).


Digital Dervish + Flamenco Sonic, What’s On, University of Plymouth

Digital Dervish & Flamenco Sonic – A Multimedia Performance Work by Hedy Hurban, Made In Plymouth

Digital Dervish & Flamenco Sonic, i-DAT

IDEATE 5K GRANT from Creative UK, i-DAT

Whirling Dervishes Intertwine with Flamenco Dancers to Cross Centuries, Cultures and Technology in Unique Multimedia Performance, Press Release, Real Ideas

Whirling dervish and flamenco dancer bring cultural performance to Plymouth, Plymouth Herald Online

Digital Dervish + Flamenco Sonic at Plymouth Dome, ITV West Country, May 5th Broadcast at 6pm

Review of Digital Dervish + Flamenco Sonic, by Archer Endrich

A Whirling Dervish and Flamenco Dancer Meet in Unique Multimedia Dance Performance at Peterborough’s Market Hall,

Film by Kaz Rahman Premieres in Canada, School of Art, College of Arts and Sciences, The University of Tennessee Knoxville

Artists In Conversation: Hedy Hurban and Kaz Rahman, Public Energy

Dervish is Awakened…, Digital Dervish + Flamenco Sonic at Market Hall, Peterborough, Canada review by Sarazee Sept 12th, 2022

Kaz Rahman Celebrates Success of Performances in Dubai – Digital Dervish + Flamenco Sonic: Dream Chamber in Dubai December 16-17 2022, School of Art, College of Arts and Sciences, The University of Tennessee Knoxville

Related Events

Charminar Films
The Canada Council for the Arts
University of Plymouth
Creative UK
Real Ideas
Public Energy
New Canadians Center
Theatre of Digital Art
Electric City Culture Council
Peterborough City Council