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Understanding Istanbul belly dancing

Jun 6, 2008
Exotic Istanbul Belly Dancing

Istanbul belly dancing is a huge tourist attraction. Nightclubs everywhere offer special shows meant for visitors. However, Istanbul belly dancing is not just for tourists. Belly dancing is very much a part of Turkish history and culture. It has evolved with time but it has its roots in many different types of cultures that have helped to shape the dance into its present form.

There are certain characteristics of the dance that are unique to Istanbul belly dancing in terms of costume and props. It was traditionally meant for the eyes of women only as this was considered a sacred dance that celebrated fertility.

Costume and Props

The traditional Turkish costume for belly dancing involves a long skirt with a high slit. This skirt emphasizes the leg and Istanbul belly dancing involves the dancer's legs more than other types of belly dancing. Although there is such a thing as belly dancing slippers it can sometimes be performed with high heels and platform shoes.

Turkish belly dancers also play zils, or finger cymbals during performances. Purists say that a dancer can only be considered skilled if they can play the finger cymbals while dancing. Four zils are usually used, two for each hand. They are very small and it can be difficult to master playing these tiny instruments and dancing at the same time.

The dance style of Istanbul belly dancing is also very different than that of Egyptian belly dancing. This is because there are fewer restrictions on Turkish belly dancing. Turkish dancers are allowed to do floor work and to incorporate pelvic thrusts into their shows unlike Egyptian dancers. Turkish dance also tends to be more gymnastic and energetic, rather than slow and sensual.

Modern Culture

Istanbul belly dancing is still very much a part of everyday life in Turkey. It is still a popular custom for a belly dancer to perform at weddings. Belly dancers are also called on to entertain at circumcision ceremonies for young boys. Television programs also feature belly dancing and there are quite a few famous belly dancers that are celebrated both in Turkey and around the world.

Turkish belly dancing is distinctly different from its Egyptian variant and watching a performance will most definitely be breathtaking. It is truly a display of grace, agility, and showmanship. It is guaranteed to be a fun night for everyone present. One performance is enough to make you want to take this exquisite dance form up yourself.
About the Author
Charlie Reese likes giving belly dance instruction and talking to the students about dance. Charlie also likes giving a good psychic reading to the fellows psychics .
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