A Journey Within: An Artistic Blend of Sufi Music and the Motions of Sama

School of Islamic Sufism
School of Islamic Sufism
Fringe Online

Dancers Credit: School of Islamic Sufism
Inside the temple Credit: School of Islamic Sufism
The message Credit: School of Islamic Sufism
A dancer in full flow Credit: School of Islamic Sufism

If joyous circles of harmony and peace are your thing, if your truth is a shoreless sea to be contemplated in meditation, this beautiful video by the London School of Islamic Sufism offers 45 minutes of enchantment.

The piece, recorded largely during the lockdown and featuring part of a performance at Sadlers Wells theatre, draws on the works of Sufi poets such as Rumi—whose work formed the basis of an album by Madonna. Most of the scenes are dominated by slowly turning female figures (not male dervishes) in ceremonial dress, accompanied by religious music, mostly filmed inside the school's ornate London temple.

As an atheist unmoved by the video's precious mysticism, expressed in a gentle half-whispered commentary, I did at least enjoy the stunning landscapes included in the footage, and much of the musical accompaniment, particularly by a trio of cimbalom, daf drum and guitar, of which I would have liked to have heard more.

But judging the entire work purely in artistic terms, it was a pity that it topples at the end into a doe-eyed sentimentality with banal background music suitable for a second-rate romance film.

Reviewer: Colin Davison