I often think of Istanbul as a woman – charming, sexy, moving to a certain flow or rhythm. Sometimes, I think that rhythm is formed by the Bosphorus, sometimes by the plaintive call to prayer and other times, by the traffic and city sounds pouring forth from every curving corner and city sokak. There is something alive in it all. It seems like a beautiful dance – and if that dance were to be defined, I would say it is most like belly dancing.
I honestly didn’t think so at first, but then I visited my friend Hale Çakır in her new studio in Taksim. What did I know about belly dancing? Truth be told, almost nothing. But Hale is an amazing teacher – of life, not just belly dancing. She’s been dancing for 14 years and she’s traveled the world teaching this most beautiful and feminine of arts. She recently opened her studio in Taksim because she wanted a place that was dedicated to dance – a sacred place, a place to teach and a place to learn.
You don’t have to be model thin or a trained dancer to learn belly dancing. In fact, the curvier the better. The costumes, of course, accent the feminine form and the dancing highlights the feminine inside the dancer, but in a way that focuses on the intuitive and receptive nature of women. Hale doesn’t see belly dancing as something “sexy” per se, but rather as a conversation with the music. It is the music that moves the dancer. The dancer reflects the music – so whatever is needed in the moment, the dancer does. Belly dancing is about creativity and training your ear to listen because the way one dances is important – whether it’s joyful or emotional or dramatic or sad or sensual or dynamic or fun, it is all based on what kind of music is playing.
Hale has introductory classes for 50 TL as well as one-month packages for 140 TL, which provide for a one hour and 15 minute lesson per week. Beginners are welcome as are more advanced students. Hale believes anyone can learn how to listen to the music and express themselves in belly dancing. She also teaches more advanced students in the ‘whys’ and ‘hows’ of the movements. Hale, who is an amazing teacher, ascribes to the belief that we can keep on learning no matter where we are in life. I can guarantee that she will teach you not just about belly dancing, but also about life and how beautiful you are and how feminine you can be as you listen to the music that is all around us.
For more information, check out Hale’s website.
John Wreford‘s exhibition at the Galatea Art Gallery, located at Asmalımescit Mh. Sofyalı Sok. No:12 D:3 Beyoğlu, will run from 14 October to 1 November 2014. You can read more about John and his travels at his blog.