THE BLOG

My Journey to World Sufi Spirit Festival (Part One)

21/02/2014 17:00 GMT | Updated 22/04/2014 10:59 BST

"The labyrinth of artistic expressions which attempt to transcend the spiritual emotions leads to the same goal: to find another way facing the transient carnal lives we lead in this world. It all started with the great masters of polytheistic India which gave us spiritual free-thinkers like the Bauls or the Fakirs of Bengal." Alain Weber - Artistic Director World Sufi Spirit Festival 2014.

This weekend I will be performing my new creation "El Camino" with my inspired and inspiring creative collaborator Youth, and we will be appearing at the World Sufi Spirit Festivalhttp://www.worldsufispiritfestival.org in Jodhpur. The two-centre festival, the second part of which runs from 21-23 February, is the vision of the royal family of Jodhpur and it is thanks to Shivranjani Rajye that we have been invited to perform on this most prestigious of stages. Together with Youth, we are bringing together an exciting ensemble of musicians and dancers to Jodhpur.

Since I was a child growing up in Morocco, I have always felt myself to be at the very epicentre of a cultural and theological meeting-point. All the different cultures, and the strong spiritual heritage that has nourished my soul, have merged into this single journey for a universal and spiritual quest. As I have engulfed myself in my spiritual path, Sufi philosophy and poetry have been such an important inspiration and a guide throughout my life path. My own writings have stemmed from all those inspired moments of meditating on the Sufi writings. As a performer, it is the spirit of Rumi and Hazrat Inayat Khan that have always been at the core of how I express myself, both creatively and personally. Sufism and my other great love Flamenco are both celebrations of the human spirit: pure physical and mental release. I try to channel these influences in each and every creative endeavour in my life.

"Tell me, madman, what are you looking for on the paths of the world? Look in your room and you will find the jewel. Why are you searching in vain in Delhi, in Lahore? The very same cosmic game is being played in the human body. Like the moon that hides behind the clouds. Knowing yourself, that is a prayer. He who knows the Unseen, says Lalan, knows where to go." Lalan Fakir, a Baul poet.

Youth explains: "El Camino" will be a musical performance that will take our audience on a magical, alchemical journey...towards the divine. It's a story of exile, passion and survival and the music tells a tale of separations pain, the agony of the soul. The sounds resonate with reconciliation and speak to everyone who is far from their source, and longs to be reunited with it once more, re-connecting us with the ancient oral traditions of this eternal music." He continues, "we have titled our performance "El Camino" as the story follows the ancient musical narrative of Flamenco's journey southwards. Starting from its roots in Northern India and Pakistan and the Sufi traditions of Qawwali music, down through the Middle East and Northern Africa to Southern Spain. We invite our audience into a shamanic invocation of ancient dionysian rites of transformation, ecstasy and the Sufi spirit. Musically our performance will be one of a sound-clash, an experimental explosion and a sonic fusion where Qawwali, Egyptian and Moroccan traditional sounds and dance collide with the wild untamed intensity of the flamenco spirit. Our lyrical inspiration has been found from thirteenth century Sufi mystics to the poetry of Lorca and the native mystical traditions of dance and music throughout Europe, the Middle East and India."

For me, the World Sufi Spirit Festival is like a manifestation of my own life, my own family history. The event celebrates Sufism and all its roots across Judaism, Islam and Christianity. From the songs of the Bauls to the messages of Jesus and the great Sufi mystics such as Jalal al din Rumi, through the history of the Syrian church, the Aramean language of the bible, the Kharosthi and Brahmi scripts and Christian traditions within the Arab world, its journey through Andalusian Spain and on to my birth country of Morocco. From the Pamirs to the Caucases, Sufism was also at the heart of the Persian and Turko-Persian traditions. Sufism is at the root of all our worlds, it is what combines us and makes us who we are today.