Mysticism Meets Feminism

MDC Live Arts presents a Tribute to the First Female Sufi Mystic

Miami, Jan. 28, 2018 – Miami Dade College’s (MDC) MDC Live Arts presents The Fourth Light, a tribute to the first female Sufi mystic, at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 21, at the Aventura Arts & Cultural Center. The program features sacred dance performance, transcendent live music by Persian electroacoustic duo Niyaz, and mesmerizing special effects by renowned interactive design artist Jerome Delapierre.

Born into poverty in eighth century Iraq, Rabia Al Basri was sold into slavery at a young age, but defied odds and found an inner strength and resolve that led to her liberation both as a woman and as a spiritual figure. She is credited with the doctrines of Divine Love and Non-Duality that lie at the heart of today’s Sufi mysticism. Though recognized as a saint, her role continues to be diminished in value because she was a woman.

“Rabia’s struggles even in the eighth century remain quite relevant to our time, when women continue to strive to rise above the status of inferiority placed upon them by many patriarchal societies around the world,” Niyaz singer Azam Ali said.

To honor her—and all women— Niyaz composed songs based on Al Basri’s poetry, as well as the poems of other mystics, including 20th century Urdu poet Kaifi Azmi, whose progressive words called for women to stand shoulder to shoulder with men. Known for their social consciousness, Niyaz also includes in their repertoire traditional folk songs of ethnic and religious minority groups in the Middle East who have suffered great oppression. The result is compelling songs that feature exotic rhythms and the bewitching melancholy of Ali’s voice within richly textured arrangements, sweeping choruses and electronic beats.

Rather than present a straight forward concert, Niyaz wanted to share this unique narrative in an immersive and moving way. They teamed up with renowned interactive design artist Jerome Delapierre to combine their live music and sacred dance performance with advanced technologies and responsive projection and body-mapping techniques for a seamless synthesis of sound, space, image and light. Their aim, for the real and the virtual to merge—thus pulling the audience inside the art for multi-sensory spiritual experience.

This special event spans two themes in MDC Live Arts’ presenting portfolio: it continues last year’s Ojala/ Inshallah season dedicated to presenting arts from the Muslim world, generously supported by the Doris Duke Foundation Building Bridges Program, and it falls within the current season dedicated to strong women, immigrants and innovators.

About Niyaz

Described by the Huffington Post as “an evolutionary force in contemporary Middle Eastern music,” Niyaz has created a 21st century global trance tradition by seamlessly blending medieval Sufi poetry and folk songs from their native Iran and its surrounding countries in the Persian Gulf, with rich acoustic instrumentation and state-of-the-art modern electronics.

Based in Montreal, Niyaz was founded in 2004 by the compelling vocalist/ composer and two-time JUNO Award nominee Azam Ali, and multi-instrumentalist/ composer and JUNO Award nominee Loga Ramin Torkian. Today, they boast four best-selling and critically acclaimed albums released on Six Degrees Records—all of which have debuted at no. 1 on iTun es and garnered the band massive media attention, including features on NPR, PRI, The BBC World Service, Huffington Post, Billboard Magazine and The Wall Street Journal. Their music has also been featured in several major film and television scores, including The Matrix, Prince of Persia, Thor- The Dark World, Body of Lies, True Blood, Nip Tuck, Bones, Alias, Prison Break, Tyrant, and Crossing Over.

Niyaz continues to tour internationally and remains committed to creating music with a deep social message aimed at uniting people from different cultural and religious backgrounds through our shared humanity.

WHAT:                MDC Live Arts presents The Fourth Light

WHEN:               Thursday, Feb. 21 at 8 p.m.

WHERE:             Aventura Arts & Cultural Center, 3385 N.E. 188th St.

>> Click here for photos

>> Click here for video

Tickets are $30.  To purchase tickets, please visit

About MDC Live Arts

MDC Live Arts is Miami’s most eclectic performing arts series. Created in 1990 as Cultura del Lobo, MDC Live Arts has a celebrated history of bringing extraordinary national and international performing artists to Miami. The annual series presents today’s most exciting artists and designs meaningful engagement between these artists, the students of MDC, and the greater community. MDC Live Arts seeks artists from across the globe who push boundaries and honor traditions relevant to Miami’s diverse community, and aims to offer audiences opportunities to discover new ideas, perspectives and forms of expression. For more information, please visit

The programs of MDC Live Arts are made possible with the generous support of:  Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council; the Miami-Dade County Mayor and Board of County Commissioners; the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture; the National Endowment for the Arts; and National Performance Network (NPN). MDC Live Arts is a Partner of the National Performance Network (NPN). Major NPN contributors include the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Ford Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Amal is a National Performance Network/Visual Artists Network (NPN/VAN) Creation & Development Fund Project co-commissioned by MDC Live Arts in partnership with Su Teatro, MACLA and NPN/VAN.

Ojalá/Inshallah: Wishes from The Muslim World is made possible by the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art’s Building Bridges Program. The Building Bridges Program is the grant-making arm of the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, which is an extension of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. The program supports national efforts to advance relationships, increase understanding, and reduce bias between Muslim and non-Muslim communities. The mission of DDFIA is to promote the study, understanding and appreciation of Muslim arts and cultures. For more information, please visit

MDC Live Arts Contacts: Alexa Burneikis, Marketing Manager, 305-237-7733,