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Turkish Belly Dance (Oriyantal Dansi)

Belly dancing is very ancient in that part of the world that is now Turkey. Belly dance was preserved during the Middle Ages in the harems of the Ottoman Empire and the social dances of everyday people. Turkish belly dancing has been strongly influenced by the Romani (Gypsy) people as well as influences from ancient Goddess worshipping cultures.

Turkish Belly Dance

Ozel Turkbas

The Moves: Turkish belly dance uses the belly dance moves and core belly dance techniques of classic bellydance in a generally more energetic, flamboyant, and bold manner than other versions of Eastern bellydance. The use of finger cymbals is common and there is often more athleticism in the moves. Floor work (movements done at floor level) is common and props are sometimes used. The expression of sexuality has been somewhat overt at times, especially in the Turkish bellydance nightclub performances of the 1970s and 1980s.

Music: In Turkish nightclubs, bellydancers perform to large orchestras that play Arabic music, often with a Roma (Gypsy) flair that is of a fast, energetic tempo. There are a variety of instruments including dumbeks (Arabic hand drums), violins, ouds (similar to a guitar), keyboards, oboes, and clarinets. A typical performance can last 30 minutes or more, containing a variety of tempos, rhythms, and melodies. More modern styles of Turkish music can include elements of electronic or world-beat music.

Costume: Turkish costumes, especially in the 1970s and 1980s, were notorious for their brevity and sexiness. The costumes are usually the typical decorated bra top and belly dance skirt with belt. However, often the skirts are made with less fabric than the American belly dance or Egyptian belly dance style, and are very brief, showing more of the dancer's body. Beaded belts are most common and there are matching accessories such as necklaces, arm and ankle bracelets, earrings, and headpieces. Sheer fabrics are usually used in the skirt and the costumes often have cutouts on the belts or bra/bodice. Typically, the look in Turkish belly dance costumes is sexy, playful, and flirtatious.

In recent years Turkish belly dance performances and costuming have toned down from the notorious '70s and '80s. Like most other styles of bellydance, it continues to evolve with new elements of movement interpretation, music, and costuming.

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