Algorithmic Choreographies

Women whirling dervishes and dance heritage on YouTube

Authored by: Sheenagh Pietrobruno

The Routledge Companion to Dance Studies

Print publication date:  November  2019
Online publication date:  October  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138234581
eBook ISBN: 9781315306551
Adobe ISBN:


 Download Chapter



YouTube hosts millions of dance videos uploaded by users throughout the world and features a multitude of forms and styles from past and current eras. The scale and diversity of these videos render YouTube a formidable resource for analyzing and interpreting dance. The meaning of dance transmitted on this platform emerges through the interconnection between the architecture in which videos circulate and their actual dance content. The Mevlevi Sema ceremony (sema), or whirling dervish ceremony, on YouTube provides a case study to address this interrelation. The sema of Turkey, which includes a whirling dance, was recognized as official intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO in 2005. Through the case study of the sema, the link between YouTube’s architecture and video content unfolds in four sections. The first provides a description of the sema and connects YouTube, the sema, and UNESCO’s safeguarding of dance heritage. The second situates the analysis of intangible heritage videos on YouTube within the field of screendance and its interpretation of dances through their mediated architecture. The third provides the multiple frames of meaning used to analyze sema videos on this platform, which stem from historical and contemporary research, ethnography, and interviews. The fourth analyzes the digital architecture in which sema videos are embedded, using the prism of these frames of meaning to argue that the link between video content and the technologies of the platform sheds light on the political and cultural meanings ascertained through YouTube’s dance transmission.

Search for more...
Back to top

Use of cookies on this website

We are using cookies to provide statistics that help us give you the best experience of our site. You can find out more in our Privacy Policy. By continuing to use the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.