Hodjapasha Turkish Folk Dancing Istanbul Turkey

Turkish Folk Dance

Thought I booked a whirling dervish performance through my hotel in Beyoğlu. In Istanbul communication isn’t always easy, since few people speak English. The person I usually ask for help was unavailable, and the concierge who helped didn’t understand me. Instead of the Mevlevi Sema Ceremony, he booked a cultural show of Turkish folk dance. The surprise turned out to be an incredibly entertaining Saturday evening!

The talented dancers performed expressive harem, traditional, and belly dances from diverse cultures and regions in Turkey:

The music, choreography, and costumes were extraordinary! I had a front seat, and the strength and talent of the young dancers was impressive. The principal belly dancer performed several flawless solos. The fire dance was spectacular!

Amateur photography – no flash – was allowed. I plan to start using video but need to practice. Parts of the dance performance would have made incredible video. You can search the Internet for video versions of most dances performed last night.

Turkish Doumbek Drum

Hodjapasha is in Fatih District. The captivating venue is a transformed 15th-century Hamam. The performance area has a circular glass dance floor and a musician stage. Spectators sit around the circular floor surrounded by dramatic lighting and decorations that turn the intimate space into a mystical setting!

I saw a sema performance several years ago in Istanbul and wanted to attend another. Sema, a custom inspired by Mevlana Celaleddin-i Rumi, a 13th century Muslim saint and Anatolian mystic, is a religious ceremony. Although sema performances are exquisite, the folk dances last night opened a new chapter of Turkish culture and tradition. They helped me understand the diverse regions of Turkey and their ethnic influences!

Mevlevi Sema Whirling Dervish


  1. Garrulous Gwendoline

    Looks like a happy accident. I used to have a Turkish friend who ran an exercise class based on belly dancing. It was a lot of fun! And recently I had a little try on the doumbek drum. I love the sound.

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