Turkish Roman Dans (Turkish folkloric)

Some of you in our Untamed Turkish class have been asking about costuming, performance and other aspects of Turkish Bellydance & Turkish Folkloric dance.  Roman Dans is the mother or Turkish Oriental (Bellydance) so we will start there. In our Untamed Turkish class we rotate month to month between Roman & Oriental. May is Oriental. June will be Roman.

My main Roman Dans teacher is Reyhan Tuzsuz.  She is a gift.  This is the “real deal” Roman straight from Istanbul.

You can see her foot-work because of the length of the skirt.  You can also see there is no flapping of the skirt around – which is beautiful and dramatic but is not a feature of Roman Dans.  Check out her bouncy hip-work layered on top of intricate foot patterns, garnished with colourful gestures.  This is a very playful yet powerful & nuanced style.

You can heart her students & fans calling to her because she is the sweetest & most giving teachers.  She shares all of her latest moves.  She holds nothing back for herself.  She is so encouraging & kind in her instruction.  She does teach through “lead/follow” method which can be challenging at first but ultimately is the best way to learn the true essence of this art.  Her work is simply unparalleled.  If you name almost anyone sharing Roman Dans today they have studied with Reyhan.  She is just the best. She has a great instructional DVD “Raw Roman” that I highly recommend if you can’t get to Turkey.

And in pants.  All of her performances (and indeed the style – similar to Baladi or taxim in Egyptian dance) are improvised.  This is a great example of not giving it all away in the first 30 seconds.  There is a build-up in the performance.

Sophie Armoza is another gifted performer.  She is taking Roman to the stage in beautiful & dramatic ways.  Here she does a little tableau of men’s & women’s style.  Her footwork is so clean you could eat off of it.

Ahmet Luleci was my first Roman Dans teacher.  I studied with him in Tokyo at Mishaal’s Devadasi studio.  She has been a long-time Turkish dance enthusiast & supporter.  I love this natural, emotive performance.  He shares not only Roman but many other Turkish folkloric dances.  He is such an important & knowledgeable figure.

Next up is legendary Sema Yildiz.  I first studied with her, too, in Tokyo at Mishaal’s Devadasi Studio before following her to Istanbul.  (She gave me the name “Yildiz” which means “star” after I performed there in the Gar Casino.)  I love this clip because it shows the social nature of this dance.  Like Oriental it is often performed at celebrations like weddings & is meant for everyone – men & women.

Elizabeth Strong is an American dancer I have studied with. Her breakdown & understanding is very rich & detailed. She is a joyous & charming performer well-suited to this playful dance. She was Reyhan’s first student. The landscape of Turkish Roman is better for her support & sharing. Her DVD is phenomenal.

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