Heavenly Journeys – Insights into Alevi Ritual Dance

Heavenly Journeys gives insights into the ritual dance of the Alevis, a religious community from Anatolia. While in Turkey, they are not legally recognized as religious community, this is the case in Germany since 2007. Only since 1989 Alevis abandoned the practice of takiye (hiding their faith for self-protection) in Hamburg with a public cem-ceremony. The ritual dance semah is the climax of the cem, where all participants strive to reach a state of unity with god. Heavenly Journeys combines the perspectives of a young woman, who used to perform semah publicly with a folklore group and never got to know takiye, and skender, an elder who learned it by participating in the cems in the Anatolia and who is critical of the folkloric performance of semah outside of the cem. Heavenly Journeys displays the enormous transformations that the Alevi community underwent in the last three decades in Germany by a central element of its ritual practice. Since 2010 semah is recognized as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. Marcel Klapp 2015.