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The Whirling Dervishes of Mevlevi Sufism dance against death: When performing the Sema ceremony, they wear hats that signify tombstones, skirts that represent shrouds, and their removal of black cloaks indicates rebirth. Rooted in the writings of 13th-century poet Jaluddin Rumi, these spiritual trance-dancers have had a tough century: Their ritual dancing was banned for 30 years by modernizing Turkish leaders and is still restricted to one festival a year—beginning Dec. 1, shortly after this troupe finishes its first U.S. tour since 1978. The “dance of all things” is at 8 p.m. at George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium, 21st & H Sts. NW; it’s preceded by a 6:30 p.m. seminar on Sufism and Dervish ceremonies. $15-25. (202) 994-6800. (Mark Jenkins)