There are two figures who direct and contain the whirling dance. One is the sheikh, who represents the sun, while the dervishes themselves are the planets who dance around him. The second is the dance master, who controls the pace of the whole ceremony by his movements and position. They stand opposite each other. Each dervish passes between them, kisses the hand of the sheikh and is given permission to dance. It is an earned privilege and not a right. Then he turns to the dance master for silent instruction. The dance master indicates by a movement of his foot beneath his long brown robe where the dervish will begin his sema, his Turn. The dervish moves away and seems to unfold into the dance. His white skirt opens out like the flower of an hibiscus, or Morning Glory, and his arms extend.
The right palm is raised toward the sky, and the left is turned downward to the earth. Thus he becomes the pole through which the heavens and the earth are united. He is the human being between; he is in fact the one who can be the connection between heaven and earth.
But the sheikh, the sun, dances among them only at the end. He turns in their midst more slowly, it seems, and holds the opening of his brown robe with his right hand, while his left is held close to his body and turned upward. He is the sun, the centre, the source of life and consciousness, and he is contained within himself.