I booked a whirling dervish performance through my hotel in Beyoğlu – or so I thought…. Communication isn’t always easy in Istanbul since few people speak English. The person I usually ask for help wasn’t available, so I talked to a Turkish concierge who misunderstood me. Instead of the Mevlevi Sema Ceremony, he booked a cultural show of traditional Turkish folk dances. 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:
- Ottoman Palace Dance
- Zeybek Dance Aegean Turkey
- Thracian Turkey Roman Gypsy Dances
- Shaman Dance
- Halay Dances Eastern Turkey
- Belly Dances
- Azerbaijani Dance
- Balkan Region Dances
- Horon Dances Black Sea (Anatolia) Region
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, and the fire dance was spectacular!
Amateur photography – no flash – was allowed. I plan to start using video but need 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.
Hodjapasha is in Istanbul’s Fatih District. The venue is a transformed 15th-century Hamam. The performance area has a circular glass dance floor and a musician’s stage. Spectators sit around the circular floor surrounded by dramatic lighting and decorations that turn the intimate space into a mystical place!
I saw a sema performance several years ago in Istanbul and wanted to attend another. Sema, a Turkish custom inspired by Mevlana Celaleddin-i Rumi, is a religious ceremony. The entirely different dance performances last night opened a whole new chapter of Turkish culture and tradition for me – understanding these diverse regions and their cultural influences on the country!