Digital Dervish + Flamenco Sonic

Digital Dervish + Flamenco Sonic

A Multimedia Performance Work by Hedy Hurban

May 6th and 7th at the Market Hall Dome theatre in Devonport, Plymouth

The sema of the Dervish blurs the lines between dance and meditation while symbolically expressing the formation of the universe and mans’ transference of love and respect to God. This ritual turning practice of the Mevlevi Sufi Order dates back to the 13th century to Muhammed Celaleddin better known as Mevlana. The duende is the expression of the soul for a Flamenco dancer- a flame that is provoked when in a state of ecstatic movement. Duende is not a tangible concept but one that is felt throughout the body and conveyed through passionate and striking movements.

Digital Dervish and Flamenco Sonic 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. A Flamenco dancer notices and begins to move in similar patterns attempting to awaken him. They exchange their sounds and movements until they become intertwined in whirling. This is a story about landscape, earth, love and life that encompasses music, imagery and physical movement. The movements and gestures which are specific to these dance traditions are being highlighted and augmented with an original wearable device called a Sound Drop.

The Sound Drop 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.

Vimeo link:



Music Composer, Wearable Tech Designer and Choreographer: Hedy Hurban
Filmmaker and Production Designer: Kaz Rahman
Flamenco Dancer: Mercedes Romero
Dervish: Mayez Rahman
Visual Effects Editor: Barış Çelik

Key people on project

Hedy Hurban bio (creator, wearable tech designer)

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 BFA in Visual Arts from York University (Toronto) and a ResM in Computer Music from the University of Plymouth and is currently associate lecturer in Digital Art and Technology where she is completing her PhD.

Kaz Rahman bio (filmmaker)

Kaz Rahman has worked extensively as Visual Artist, Filmmaker and Academic with both commercial and public institutions, festivals, and broadcasters over the last 20 years. His 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).

Mercedes Romero bio (flamenco dancer)

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 VargasBallet de Carmen MotaBallet 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.

Mayez Rahman bio (dervish)

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.

The work is in partnership with the University of Plymouth, Canada Council for the Arts, Creative UK, and Real Ideas Organization. The University of Plymouth has supported this project from the beginning with the help of technicians and staff including a supervisory team that have helped shape the direction of this project. It is also part of an extended project that will be showcased in Canada in the fall of 2022 which is supported by the Canada Council for the Arts. Creative UK has awarded funding to develop the wearable body instrument devices that are worn by the performers to further explore the possibilities of commercializing the devices as a viable consumer product. Real Ideas Org. have been instrumental in supporting the vision of exhibiting an original 360 film that has been made especially for the dome by filmmaker Kaz Rahman in conjunction with live performance by two distinct cultural practices. The inspiration for this work stems from years of research at the University into examining how traditional, folkloric dance practices can be augmented with technology to create new works by way of also digitally preserving their heritage for future generations.