Healing power of the Persian santur
November 16, 2017
I recently returned from San Luis Obispo on the central coast of California where I performed Persian dance at Cal Poly University with the Arabic Music Ensemble, directed by Dr. Ken Habib, and wonderful guest Iranian musicians Neema Hekmet, Azadeh Nemat-Gorgani, Nariman Assadi, and Nasser Sabouri. What a beautiful experience it was!
In addition to the beautiful proscenium stage theater, gracious audience, and talented colleagues with whom I performed, what make this performance extra special for me was that I had the pleasure of dancing to a live Iranian ensemble, led by santur master Neema Hekmet, whom I have known and worked with for many years. The music was incredibly moving, and I was swept up in the experience, feeling a deep heart-opening triggered by the music, a deep connection to the audience, and sense of being wrapped and enveloped in Divine Love.
I am inspired to share with you how I first encountered the santur and Persian or Iranian music for the first time, because it relates intimately to the sacred mystical nature of music dance.
It was 20 years ago at the Middle-Eastern Music and Dance Camp in Mendocino that I first encountered Iranian music. Every night they have masterful live music ensembles from the Turkish, Arab, and Iranian traditions. I was out there in the audience, letting the music wash over me like water, and the santur begins to play. The santur is a hammered dulcimer of ancient Persian origin, over 3000 years old and considered the great grandfather of the the piano. It’s sound has a mystical, magical tingling quality, like angels dancing. It sends me into such a delicious trance! And the daff, the Persian frame drum, is like soft rain pattering on the roof of my heart. For me these instruments have a deep spiritual resonance and assure me beyond doubt of the healing capacity of music.
So this night of my first encounter with the santur and daff, a profound feeling of well-being, freedom, safety and spiritual connection washed over me. Certain fears and neurosis I was carrying from childhood softened their grip. This was a moment of deep healing and relaxation, as I realized in that moment that I was not bound by my fears and the past. That I would have a unique, beautiful life that would be my own. Tears started to well in my eyes as relief washed over me. This experience was all stimulated by the sound of the santur and the daff.
Traditional Iranian music is deeply connected to Sufi mysticism and is designed to take the listener through different states of consciousness. No one had to tell me that, because I felt the power of the music to take me celestial realms. Listen for yourself! Does it spark something in you?
FREE GUIDED JOURNEY
A week later and still relishing in the magical afterglow! Seriously, much to my surprise I am still reaping the benefits and riding the waves of such a weekend. Personally it was an end of an era, and what better way to initiate a new beginning, than to breathe in new life with ritual, spinning, baddass women, wonderful food, perfect location and gorgeous weather. Outstanding!
The potency of sacred women’s spaces was made evident to me during this beautiful two day healing dance ritual. That experience of learning, of playing, and of connecting to our feminine power through community and the container held so humbly and graciously by Hannah will stay with me forever, and has become fuel for a new passion in my life to explore Sufi and Berber traditional, meditative dance. My deepest gratitude goes to all women of the dance, now, and throughout all of time.
I just spent two days with Hannah and a diverse group of spirited women on the Spin, Shake, Sway workshop exploring whirling and the Moroccan Guedra, and the experience made me reconnect with dancing at a very deep and intense level. I felt so alive and free in the space where your body and your soul intersect, and beauty and healing naturally happen. The location was magical and the perfect setting for our group.
I first saw Hannah dance Persian style at a party and was immediately in awe of her self-possessed beauty that comes through her style of dance. I wanted to learn that! I had gone through a tough 18 months of sorrow and grief after loosing my partner of 15 years and mom within six months of each other. Hannah choreographed a Persian dance specifically for me that would help open my heart. And she helped mend my heart and soul through private lessons and learning her dance. I would recommend her to anyone at any time in their lives. Dancing with her has brought be such joy! You will have such fun with her!
For the past three years Hannah’s performance and teaching has been a highlight of my annual women’s weekend. She is a gifted, creative, expert dancer who engages and amazes the audience with her style and skill. It’s beautiful to watch her flow, bend, glide, and shimmy. Dancing with her is a blast! All my women friends loved it.
Hannah’s workshop was exhilarating, joyful, and educational. I felt uplifted afterwards, and emerged with a positive feeling of lightness.
Hannah radiates an inner joy, a celebration of the divine, that glows and grows inside her audience. Dancing with Hannah, one is finds herself channeled into the timeless essence of feminine grace, connecting to all women past and present, freeing us to express our true innate beauty
Hannah loves transmitting her knowledge of world dance to kids and they feel it. She engages them in both the movements and the understanding of the traditions of the dances. The kids learn to appreciate the pure joy of moving, the history of the dances and choreographing their own pieces. It’s great to see the kids enjoying the discipline of the different traditions while having a lot of fun.