Belly Dance in Turkey – the Bad News

Ninety-nine percent of belly dance teaching in Australia (other than Tribal styles) is Egyptian style.   It's rare to find Turkish - even more so now that Leonie Sukan is no longer teaching in Sydney.   It's a pity, because I always remember the first time I saw Leonie dance - at a social event!   I was captivated, even though she was only dancing for herself, in a crowd of other dancers boogieing to a live band.    She wasn't dancing full-on traditional Turkish, but the fundamental attitude was so different:   none of your Egyptian restraint, her movements were full and blousy, expressing the sheer joy of the dance.

It's because of Leonie that, when I started to think about studying overseas, my first thought was to go to Turkey, not Egypt.  At the time (before the unrest), there was an embarrassment of choice when it came to Egyptian belly dance vacations.  But Turkey?  No.  I found only one, and I was too late to sign up.  Besides, its itinerary seemed light on instruction.    Eventually, I learned why, from a Turkish belly dancer who emigrated to Australia.   I was curious why she hadn't got onto the restaurant circuit in Sydney, since she was such a good dancer.   She said she wouldn't lower herself - in Turkey, if you danced in restaurants, you were expected to let men grope and assault you!  She would only dance at weddings and in shows.  I had to explain that restaurants in Sydney weren't like that.

Essentially, it seems that while there's a stigma attached to belly dancing in Egypt, it's even worse in Turkey.  Perhaps it's because Turkey never had a Reda Troupe to add an aura of respectability.  Which is sad - and to make matters worse, this article from worldofdancers.com doesn't augur well for the future of belly dance in that country.

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