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Crossing Boundaries Vol. 9: Musicians Tomchess & Dan Kurfirst & CRS Sufi Dance Community Showcase

September 28, 2019 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm EDT

$20 – $30

We invite you into our sacred circle to commune with the divine through the ecstatic music, dance, and poetry of Sufism with musicians Tomchess (ney, oud) and Dan Kurfirst (daf) of the American Sufi Project and our Sufi Dance student community. This concert, curated and directed by Sufi Dance Artist Lâle Sayoko, is CROSSING BOUNDARIES Concert Series Vol. 9, and will take place on September 28, 2019 at 7 pm at CRS. Light refreshments will be served following the performance.

O Lover of God, when you start whirling you leave the two worlds.
This world of whirling is out of the two worlds.

— Rumi

Tickets are $25 in advance $30 at the door. Students and seniors can purchase tickets for $20. Tickets are available online at crsny.org, by phone (212-677-8621), and at CRS.


The music draws from the Mevlevi Whirling Dervish music of Anatolia and Istanbul, which in turn was influenced by Byzantine and Near Eastern musics in general. The Mevlevi Whirling Dervishes originated with Jalaludin Rumi, and the original two instruments played were Daf and Ney. It’s an ecstatic music characterized by deep rhythms, soulful melodies and soaring solos designed to function as a support for whirling, a vehicle to bring one closer to experiencing the divine which surrounds us at every moment, yet is not recognized or experienced because of mundane focus and distraction.

The whirling dance meditation of the Sufis is known as Sema or Sama and actually means “divine listening.” It is the mystical approach of practicing “listening” in order to achieve remembrance (Dhikr) of the divine spark in our heart of hearts. We empty our minds of all thoughts of the individual self as we give ourselves over to prayer and connect with a greater power, the still center within, around which we turn. Into this emptiness floods a divine fullness, which sometimes gives rise to a state known as “mystical intoxication,” a reflection of knowing and experiencing that you and I and the Divine are One. Together we can take courage and inspiration from one another and strengthen our practice.


Tomchess (oud, ney, morsing) is a New York City–based multi-instrumentalist, improviser, and composer who has played and recorded with some of the most esteemed players in the improvisational scene (Dewey Redman, Butch Morris, Pharoah Sanders, Drew Gress, Ronald Shannon Jackson) as well as Moroccan sintarist Hassan Hakmoun. He has performed around the world and at New York City venues like Lincoln Center, the Turkish and Pakistani embassies, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the United Nations He has played on Grammy-nominated recordings and was awarded grants from the Turkish American Society and the Maryland Council for the Arts. In 2012 he was nominated for an Independent Music Award.

Dan Kurfirst is an NYC based percussionist, composer and improviser. Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, his music is a product of his good fortune to have been brought up amongst people of all different cultures and master practitioners of varying musical styles. He has formally studied the Drumset with Nasheet Waits, Tariq Snare and Gregg Bendian. He has studied percussion under the tutelage of Shane Shanahan and Hakan Kaya. He has performed extensively in the New York City world music and improvised music scenes for years and has performed with various groups throughout Europe, India and the Middle East. Over the years Dan has been blessed to work alongside a who’s who of global, creative, improvising musicians, including Matt Darriau, Tomchess, Hamid Drake, Adam Rudolph, Oruc Guvenc, Daniel Carter, Cheick Hamala Diabate, Brad Shepik, Gabriel Marin, William Parker, Daro Behroozi, Brandon Terzic, Kane Mathis and Ras Moshe – to name just a few. Dan leads Spheric Sound Unit, a group dedicated to exploring cultural syncretism through music. He also co-leads Ensemble Fanaa, a trio which explores the intersection between African American, North African and Middle Eastern musical traditions. He recently worked as Musical Director for the Childrens Museum of Manhattan’s America To Zanzibar exhibit, helping to develop a touchscreen application for the Children to explore music of the Islamic world from India to Egypt to Indonesia.

Curator and Sufi Dance Artist Lâle Sayoko lives to embody and transmit the voice of spirit through music and dance. As CRS resident Sufi Dance instructor, choreographer, performing artist, and musical curator, she loves to welcome people into this holy practice to explore and share their own divinity. After a long professional dance career, she retired to support her young daughter through a life-threatening medical crisis. Several years later she discovered that she could whirl as a form of prayer to support her daughter and began studying Sufi Dance with Paris-based Sufi Artist Rana Gorgani. In April 2018 Gorgani awarded her the International Sufi Dance Certification Of Cid UNESCO, granting her authority to teach Gorgani’s method of Sufi Dance training. She currently teaches Sufi Dance classes at CRS every first Thursday of the month from 7 – 8:30 pm and, with CRS co-founder Christopher Pelham, leads the CRS Healing Circles + Whirling Prayer that take place every third Thursday of the month from 7:15 – 9 pm.


Now in its second year, CROSSING BOUNDARIES is a performance series devoted to creating unforgettable live art experiences that dissolve boundaries between performers and audiences, traditional and new music, and the local and the global, bringing people together and promoting the awareness that we each possess a limitless creativity inside us. 

CRS has from its inception in 2004 attracted many people from abroad, and has become known for presenting healing, arts, and cultural programs from around the world and from Asia in particular. This season, which is supported by a grant from the LMCC, is curated by three outstanding artists of Asian descent:  gamin, Jen Shyu, and JunYi Chow. There is a long tradition of interdisciplinarity in Asian arts, where ritual practices have always involved elements of dance, theatre, improvised music, and storytelling, and this season will build on that tradition.

Learn about the 2019 Season Curators

View the 2019 Season Announcement

The 2019 season of CROSSING BOUNDARIES is made possible in part with public funds from Creative Engagement, supported by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and administered by LMCC. LMCC empowers artists by providing them with networks, resources, and support, to create vibrant, sustainable communities in Manhattan and beyond.

LMCC logo NYC Dept of Cultural Affairs logo



September 28, 2019
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm EDT
$20 – $30
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CRS (Center for Remembering & Sharing)
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CRS (Center for Remembering & Sharing)
41 E 11th St FL11
New York, NY 10003 United States
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