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Gilded Serpent presents...
Two For One
Two very different DVDs on Turkish Dance reviewed
DVD review by Surreyya

I Love Turkish Dance  – Sarah Skinner
Let me start by saying how adorable I find Sarah Skinner to be. She is very natural, fun, and full of charisma. She seems like that person you would like to have at every event and every party to brighten the mood. That said, I left the viewing of this DVD a little confused and unsure that I found the Turkish element I was looking for. 

The DVD cover is gorgeous. Hats off to Sarah for her costuming, which she discusses on the DVD; the girl can put an absolutely mesmerizing look together. I do question how uniquely Turkish the costume is though, and it starts the whole DVD out on the wrong foot for me. Sarah gives great instruction and is fun and lighthearted in the delivery of the dance steps and choreography she puts together for the viewer. However, I feel consumers purchasing this DVD for instruction in Turkish Dance may be better served with a subtitle such as “Introduction to Turkish Dance” or some indication that it is for beginners or newcomers to this style.  This is not a DVD for experienced dancers (nor does it claim to be) but the title led me to think there might be a level of knowledge or instruction that I didn’t find within the program.

The juicy, fiery, colorful characteristics, moves, gestures and overall presence of what I have considered the “Turkish flavor” of dance were not found in this DVD.

Instead there is some fun skirt work (which is NOT Turkish, but rather something added by US dancers in recent years), and a strange interpretation of the song “Mastyka”, which is a drinking song not a song about chewing gum as suggested on the DVD. If you are a Turkish dance purist, I would not recommend this DVD. I do like that Sarah introduces the 9/8 rhythm (which is sadly all but gone in most Bay Area Turkish performances), and I sure hope it plants a seed for beginners to take interest in the rhythm.

Perhaps the instructor and the content of this DVD were just mismatched. I do think there are a few good nuggets on this DVD (general costuming, intro to 9/8, etc.) but I would like to see Sarah instructing on a different topic not so specific or controversial as Turkish Dance can be.  I think she is a great instructor with a lot of character and potential and I look forward to see what she puts out next.

Rating: Two zills and an “A” for effort!

Available for purchase here

Turkish Style Belly Dance – Elizabeth Artemis Mourat
I was lucky to find this CD on eBay; this was not submitted to us for review to my knowledge. This is among the most prized DVDs in my collection, and I can’t believe it still plays, it is so scratched.

Artemis covers a brief history of the Turkish style, its intersections with the Turkish Romany, and its departures from Egyptian style of dance. In a simple, clear and concise fashion, she covers the basics and some advanced steps for fast and slow music and explains the slow and fast Romany 9/8 rhythms and their differences from the Cabaret Karsilama. Sensible but stylish choreographies are taught to both slow and fast music, and a series of unique gestures, tracing back to Romany roots are also worked in for embellishment and fun.

Artemis emphasizes throughout the DVD that many characteristics of this style of dance are not understood by other cultures, so people might be confused to see you perform this style.

It never hurts to reinforce this truth to the ambitious performer who is anxious to drop their newest street moves. Artemis performs all of the steps and more in a fiery, passionate performance oozing with character and sass. This DVD is clean, clear, and full of the elements I enjoy about the often misunderstood and too easily criticized Turkish style of dance. While I can surely enjoy the refinement and grace of other styles, there is something powerful, earthy, raw, honest, and inherently human about Turkish style Belly dance. Artemis will bring these elements out in you. Watch her perform, and you’ll be hooked. Artemis’ website states that more Turkish style videos are forthcoming. I hope that she will find a way to include the incredible zill work (or maybe spicy floor routines) that the Turkish are also so famous for. 

Rating: Four zills ringing loudly in a 9/8!!

Available for purchases here

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