The centerpiece of the cem is the semah – a ritual dance performed by men and women, who whirl and spin together in circular patterns, while the pir plays and sings an Alevi poem or prayer. Often, each dancer holds one hand over his or her heart, while extending the other to the heavens. It’s an exhilarating act of choreographed rapture, which some say represents the dissolution of the individual ego in the living, divine connection between the community and the cosmos. Others say the semah is an expression of the worshippers’ love of God – and of God’s love for them. Yet others say that the dance represents the ability to magically transform into a crane - a bird sacred to Alevis as a symbol of the voice of Ali - and fly.