Gilded Serpent presents...

Turkish Dance DVDs: For the Birds?


Danceuse by Asena” and “Sema Yildiz: Turkish Belly and Gypsy Dance”

2 DVD reviews by Joette
posted February 15, 2011]

As Americans, we like our media concise, clear, easy to use, and applicable to any DVD. Upon recently viewing DVDs of two Turkish dancers, “Danceuse by Asena”, and “Sema Yildiz: Turkish Belly and Gypsy Dance”, I found technology to be an issue and felt the need to fast forward much of these dances rather than being engaged in the sugary movements of a Turkish delight.

Other Turkish Dancer DVDAsena is a star Belly Dancer of the last few decades in Turkey. Asena, whose real name is Onur Çakmak, has lived both in Turkey and Germany, and although she hasn’t had any formal training in Belly Dance, she quickly has proved her talents in dance and has risen to celebrity status in Turkey. Her modern look, Western Belly Dance moves, as well as her scandal-ridden and highly publicized love affair(s) have made her a target for media and the dance community at large. There is no doubt, when you visit Istanbul, that she has given the dance a prominent place in the agenda of the Turkish public; every shop that sells Belly Dance paraphernalia has an Asena DVD or music CD for sale on its shelves, including Danceuse by Asena.

This two-disk compilation is a CD of music including Ucan Kus, Esmer Sevdam, Donusu Yok, Ucan Kus, and Donusu Yok, and a DVD of trailer dances titled “Cleopatra”, “Darbuka Harem”, “Asena Ritm”, “Dance of the Lotus”, “Darbuka Harem 2”, “Gencebay Oryantal”, and “An Orient Tale”. The dances on the DVD range from old to new and the quality of the production varies in each dance.

I found the DVD more of a black-market type of production, containing varying themes.

One dance in particular, “Dance of Lotus”, makes no sense to me and there is no explanation on what supposedly is happening. (Asena is on a platform above an audience, dancing in a blue jean mini skirt with “Lotus” written on the hem of the skirt.) From my experience, this is the same type of dance I have seen on the streets of New Orleans when a prostitute is trying to involve a male audience into that venue. Maybe this is the scene she was emulating, but without any dialogue, I could only assume. At this point, I had no sense of the logic of why Asena is dancing around like a stripper, and I found it more interesting to fast forward the DVD and watch her movement in speed-drive.

Many of the other dance clips are recordings from television shows that are commercialized to the extreme with glitter, lights, and hair flips.

It’s all fun to watch–if you only want another mediocre DVD to add to your collection! However, if you want more substance, Sema Yildiz offers you culture along with entertainment.

Sema's DVDSema Yildiz, a stage name which means “star”, was born in Istanbul where she grew up in a Roma (Gypsy) community rich in dance and music. Sema was inspired by and enthralled with dance at a very young age living in the Fatih district, which houses the Sulukule, famous for its entertainment and considered the oldest Roma settlement in the world. In those days, "Sulukule" gypsies were performing public Belly dance shows in their houses to earn a living and attract visitors; even today, these shows can still be seen.

Her Roma roots are very apparent in her dance, and she is captivating as a master of “gypsy” and Turkish Oriental dance within her own country and abroad.

Sema’s Roma style embodies the passion, dexterity, skill and emotion of the Roma culture. She dances like a whirlwind: beautifully and with incredible energy. Fixing upon her audience with her queenly gaze, she draws you into her performance. Sema is a dancer that offers her audiences rippling veil work, ringing zils, floor undulations, sweeping turns, dramatic hair flicks, and vibrating stomach accents. This 60 minute DVD features 6 dances that vary in length from 8 to 15 minutes with either Roma or Oriental style.

I enjoyed her Roma dancing the most and felt that it would be amazing to watch Sema in person to experience all the facial and tiny pelvic movements.

The problem with this production is that it’s all old footage of Sema’s dancing and the quality of the recording is poor, making it difficult to see the movements. In addition, I couldn’t play the format on any of my DVD players, and I had to revert to using my computer, which is not ideal to me. As a viewer, clarity is important to me, and viewing many of the dances is like watching a static television that you simply want to turn off and go to sleep.

Overall, both productions were technically poor quality recordings, but the dancers are beautiful and fun to watch.


The Ratings are: 1.5 zills each
1.5 zil rate

Purchase info

Sema’s website:

Ed note: Sema says that she has a new DVD coming out very soon! Contact her directly for more information


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