Europe has fascinating origins for many dances that have evolved into the modern dance scene. Today we take a look towards Turkish dances specifically belly dancing. The dance itself is a traditional one in the Middle Eastern countries. However, Turkish belly dancing stands out from the traditional dance forms due to its extremely up beat tempo that is very energetic. For one to be a Turkish belly dancer, athleticism is the key element to attain.
The dance is flamboyant; with leaps and earthy movements of the pelvic while the arms and stomach move in a fluid motion. The dancers are often seen to stand behind one another in alone so that arms and its movements can be the only thing the audience sees. With the use of the finger cymbals that chime to the beat of the music the dance is performed with vigour and delicacy.
There are also two particular moves in this specific dance form that makes it separate from the Middle Eastern belly dances. The first is the Turkish Backbend where the dancer bends at the knees and then bends the back to the point where the dancer is aligned with their backbend legs. Whilst in this position, usually dancers have a sword to balance or some candles as props.
The second move which is rather difficult to perform and not for inflexible is the Turkish Drop where the dancer spins and abruptly drops into this position. Another take on this dance step is a 90 degree backbend to the floor. This not recommended to just anyone and is extremely difficult and excruciatingly painful to execute for someone who cannot naturally sit on the floor easily between their feet. This definitely has adverse effects on the dancers’ ankles and causes immense pain when and if not performed properly.
The music that accompanies this exotic dance is characterized by the sounds of oboe, clarinet, oud, ney, kanoon, finger cymbals and hand drums. This creates the perfect melody for the dancer to perform the dance. Another element that sets this dance apart is the use of the Karshilama rhythm in a 9/8 time signature that is counted as 12–34–56–789. Speaking of Karshilama, this is a line dance to an interesting 9/8 rhythm that is counted as 1 2 3, 123 which means three slow and three fast movements. In this particular version, hops, dips and jumps are added to the shoulder and hip shimmies to add an extra ounce of liveliness from the usual belly dance that happens to be sultry.
When taking a look at the costumes of this dance, the women are scantily clad revealing the legs and cleavage with high heels and sometimes platform shoes; more risqué of the cabaret styles. The top is usually beaded and heavily sequinned and sometimes coins are used as well. Turkish belly dancers would wear a belt up to the waist and split skirts that would reveal much of the leg but in modern times the dancers are now opting for the the Egyptian look where modest mermaid style skirts are worn.