The Belly Dancer of Istanbul: Would you like to date her?

Right folks, before you get excited seeing the headline, I don’t think the belly dancer here is looking to date any of her audience. But if you are in Istanbul, you must go to the Hodjapasha Culture Center in the Old City (the Sultanahmet area) and watch her perform. She is an admirable performer, and so are the many others who keep you entertained for an hour at the Turkish Dance Night.

The following has been taken from the center’s website / brochures

About the Hodjapasha Culture Center
This new center is recently converted from a 550 years old historical Turkish Bath called Hoca Paşa Bath, also known as Hoca Sinan Paşa bath. It was built by Hoca Sinan Paşa who was a teacher and later vizier to Fatih Sultan Mehmet during 1470’s. It was a double bath for both men and women. It is comperatively a big math with high dome, made of cut stone and also corner walls are designed like a peacock tail. This building served as a Turkish bath till 1988.

About Turkish Dance Night
The center presents a dance show called Turkish Dance Night on a regular basis 3 days a week . This show is performed by Hamam Dance Troupe which consists of 25 experienced dancers and musicians. Dances from different regions of Anatolia are performed as well as group and solo oriental dances  with modern choreography in the collages, with specially designed costumes and accompanied by live music. In addition, an exhibition in the foyer area which describes The History of Dance Culture in Turkey starting from 10,000 years back to today with graphics , pictures and video support can be seen .

Turkish Dance
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 imperial 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 whether they were performed only by men or women or both men and women together. In the Ottoman Empire and in modern Turkey today, every area, every city and village has its own traditional folkloric costumes and dances. These rich and traditional entertainment forms are still held in high regard and enjoyed today. With more than 4000 types of traditional folkloric dances identified by folklore researchers in rural areas and villages, Turkey has one of the richest folkloric dance heritages today. Anatolia is the melting pot of many civilizations where this great traditional heritage is kept alive.

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 men and it had many erotic associations, therefore belly dancers would often dance for men in taverns, saloons and drinking houses.

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 1920s.  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. 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.

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.

Booking and Pricing
Performances take place every Tuesday and Thursday at 20:00 and 21:00 at Saturdays.
Ticket price: 25 EURO including complimentary refreshments served during 15 minutes break time.

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