4.  Aesthetics

Regardless of ethnicity, most dancers complain that, at extras musicians remain unresponsive to their cues, purposefully rushing and playing up the rhythms to exhaust the dancers. [13] The majority of musicians openly regret the recent belly dancer boom resulting in approximately 1000 dancers working every year [14]. They claim increasing numbers circumvent artistic quality as untrained dancers, with the exception of a few accomplished, rarely know how to follow, let alone, set cues. Engaged in a local commercial live and mediated music industry, most Rom musicians are fluent in multiple musical genres and expect the same adaptability from dancers. By adaptability (uyum), they often refer not only to genre familiarity, but a willingness to let the musicians lead.

The accomplished Rom clarinetist Selim Sesler claims music should mostly dictate the belly dancer’s routine except when a seasoned dancer decides to break into an improvisation. [15] Indeed, belly dance gigs are marginal to Sesler’s primary goal of recording and experimenting with celebratory Rom wedding dance tunes from his hometown of Keşan in Thrace. [16] Having engaged in prestigious world music and Rom fusion recording projects, for example Roads to keşan (Kalan Müzik:1999), Selim Sesler considers playing live to belly dancers a lesser form, a form devoid of artistic ingenuity. In our brief interview, Sesler characterizes belly dance escort as “charlatanism.” For him, it pales in comparison to soloist or vocalist accompaniment (refakat etmek) and concert music, the artistically gratifying of all forms. [17] Sesler confidently states that engaging in jams or rehearsed stage concerts constitutes “educated playing” (terbiyeli calmak). While other musicians share Sesler’s view with regards to the contemporary scene, some older musicians fondly reminiscence about the musicality of belly dancers performing in the 1950s and 1960s gazino culture [18]. Erkan Tokmak, a 64 year-old darbuka player, recalls a moment when “the dancers and musicians would rehearse together to perfect a routine as they do in Egypt.” [19]Tokmak regretfully adds, “whereas today there is no art. All a dancer needs is good looks and good hips.”

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