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Circles of Light

Circles of Light

Circles of Light: An academic symposium surrounding transformation via the arts, a performance of beauty and power

Saturday June 4th 2011 

Robinson College, Cambridge


The Symposium

The symposium will consist of a series of panels and workshops surrounding the theme of transformation via the arts. A special focus will be maintained on Sufism and the whirling dervish throughout the day. Questions which will be explored include: What is devotional practice? How does devotional practice influence one's creative output? In sacred contexts, are performance and worship one and the same? What defines and delineates a sacred context? How does artistic creation transform its makers? Is all personal transformation sacred? Issues related to the performative act as transformational, processes of art making and transformation, and links between theology and the fine arts will be debated.

The performance

Circles of Light explores relationships of art making to personal transformation. Utilizing dancers undergoing training and initiation to be whirling dervishes, plus the choreographer-researcher's initiatory experience, phrase and text material was generated. Stories of personal transformation relating to other topics soon emerged from the performer-collaborators and tied into the overall theme. Circles, as a means of movement, circling back, holding and integrating change, became prominent. 

Circles was staged at Stratford Circus Theatre in July of 2010. It will be restaged through Robinson College in Spring 2011 and is a multimedia event featuring film, spoken text, dance, whirling, and song. The show runs one hour in duration. 


  • Alan Craxford (London Guildhall University and London Metropolitan University)
  • Paul Hakim Standeven (Mevlevi Semazen and Neyzen)
  • Hannah McClure Chalut (University of East London)
  • Barbara Berrington (Reading University)
  • Ewan Campbell (Kings College, London)
  • Stefan Cartwright (independent musician, Stroud)
  • Jeremy Hardingham (Cambridge University)
  • Professor Robin Kirkpatrick (Cambridge University)


  • 10am. Registration
  • 10.30-11am. Welcome address, followed by coffee
  • 11.30am-1pm. First panel, followed by a break for lunch
  • 2.30-4pm. Second panel, followed by coffee
  • 4.30-6pm. Third panel. This will be an interdisciplinary improvisation panel based on the day's emergent themes, which will provide an opportunity for further discussion and deliberation. 
  • 6-8pm. Break for dinner
  • 8pm-approx. 9pm. Circles of Light performance in the Judith E. Wilson Drama Studio, 9, West Road.

Tea, coffee and biscuits will be served in the planned break times, but you are asked to make your own arrangements about lunch and dinner.


Registration is £4 in advance or £5 at the door, and includes tea/coffee/biscuits throughout the day. Entry is free to those who already hold tickets from the 'Performance' event at Robinson College in October 2010, but you are asked to register your intention to attend by sending an email to Nan Taplin at For those who do not already hold tickets, advance registration is payable by cash or cheque - made payable to 'University of Cambridge' please - to be sent to Mrs. Nan Taplin, Department of Italian, University of Cambridge, Sidgwick Avenue, CAMBRIDGE CB3 9DA. All registration questions should be directed to Nan at

Special registration applies to members of CRASSH. The evening performance is free and open to the public as well as to all workshop participants.

Call for Papers

Papers are being accepted for the symposium workshop panels until May 15th 2011. Please send a 150 word abstract and your full details to Hannah McClure Chalut at Notice of accepted papers and workshop sessions will be given by May 24th. Papers and speakers relating to ritual, performance, and artistic methodologies for research are especially encouraged to apply.

How to get there

The symposium will be held at Robinson College, Cambridge, CB3 9AN. The performance will be at The Judith E Wilson Drama Studio, in the basement of the English Faculty, located at 9 West Road, Cambridge, CB3 9DP.

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