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Hodjapasha Culture Center
Istanbul

FROM OLD EGYPT TO ANATOLIA, EROTIC MOVEMENTS: BELLY DANCERS

It is known today that belly dancing originated from ancient Egypt and India. The main theme of this dance is human nature and sexuality. Belly dancers in revealing, erotic costumes would roll their bellies, rhythmically circle their hips and waist, move their hands gracefully up and down like a snake and bat their eyes at the audience, accompanied by old Turkish style köçek music. This dancing style was strictly aimed at man and it had many erotic associations, therefore belly dancers would often dance for men in taverns, saloons and drinking houses.


SOCIALIZATION OF BELLY DANCE
While belly dancing was  confined to desolate back  door venues during the Ottoman period, after the declaration of Republic women and  families were allowed to participate in social life and belly dancers began performing in legal public venues, taverns and nightclubs. Belly dancers were always popular after 1920’s. Just like prominent singers, they would take to the stage as the final act and the audience would patiently wait for them to appear. Turkish belly dancers are also known as “Turkish delights” on account of their beauty, plumpness and agility.


RELIGIOUS RITUALS
Semah: He came to Anatoila and began spreading the Bektashi way. He established the religious, economical, military and social Ahi order, teaching the morals of commerce and business ethics to the people. Bektashism is an Alevi order and the ritualistic Alevi dance that is performed in groups is called “Semah”.
Sivas, Erzincan, Malatya, Urfa, Mugla (especially Fethiye), Denizli, Aegan region and Antalya. It is said that Sema is performed on special religious worship days and specific days of harvest.


RELIGIOUS RITUALS
The Mevlevi: Mevlevi was founded after the  death of Celaleddin Rumi, by his
followers  in 1273,  with personal effords of his son Sultan Veled
Çelebi Mevlevi and Sema rituals were spread all over the world.
Sema rituals represent how people free themselves from wordly affairs an elevate to God thru a mistical journey.
This 800 years old tradition was proclaimed by UNESCO as a MASTERPIECE
OF WORLD HERITAGE,  under the title of Traditional Performing Arts and
Social Practices in October 2005.


ISTANBUL TODAY
Today, belly dancing is an art form loved by everyone and enjoyed by families. World renowned, beautiful and agile belly dancers keep entertaining audiences in night clubs, famous music halls and venues.  Most famous belly dancer in Turkey Nesrin Topkapı is the diva of belly dancing and she is the first oriental dancer to perform on national television. It used to be a tradition for modern Turkish families to watch belly dancers on new year celebration nights, when it’s exactly twelve o’clock.


MODERN FOLKLORE
Oriental dance training is improving today. Auditions for young and talented people are being organized and those who are chosen are given training in thematic dancing. Dancing troupes like “Fire of Anatolia” present great productions of traditional folkloric dance and oriental dance rhytms choreography. These musical and dance productions tour the world.


ANATOLIAN DANCES
In the Ottoman era and in Turkey today, dancing traditions in Anatolia are different than dancing traditions in Istanbul and other big cities. In Anatolian villages and towns, against the religious and social restrictions of imparial city, women and men used to sing, dance and have fun together. Dances performed during these entertainments are usually rituals with themes of their own. The reason for the organization of entertainment such as weddings, grape harvest festivities and celebrations would determine the dances to be performed and the dances would differ according to wheter they were performed only by men or women or both men and women together. For example, famous folkloric dance of Elazig, “çayda çıra” was and still is performed only by women, while dances that symbolize bravery and courage such as zeybek and kiliç kalkan are only performed by men.

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Copyright: Nt360 Sanal Tur
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Uploaded: 19/04/2010
Updated: 01/07/2014
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Tags: folk; dance; istanbul; guide; dervish; turkish night; turkish dance; sirkeci; kubbe; belly dance
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Istanbul (historically Byzantium and later Constantinople; see the other names of Istanbul) is the largest city of Turkey and the third largest city in the world. The city covers 27 districts of the Istanbul province.It is located on the Bosphorus Strait and encompasses the natural harbor known as the Golden Horn, in the northwest of the country. It extends both on the European (Thrace) and on the Asian (Anatolia) side of the Bosphorus, and is thereby the only metropolis in the world which is situated on two continents. In its long history, Istanbul served as the capital city of the Roman Empire (330–395), the East Roman (Byzantine) Empire (395–1204 and 1261–1453), the Latin Empire (1204–1261), and the Ottoman Empire (1453–1922). The city was chosen as joint European Capital of Culture for 2010. The historic areas of Istanbul were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1985.