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This month our video class watched examples of Kılıç Kalkan, Kaşık Oyunları, and Karşılama. The Kılıç Kalkan is a Sword and Shield Dance from Bursa. According to Cefkin, it is a controversial dance in Turkey because it represents the Ottoman’s conquest of their first capital city. In its early development, the Republic of Turkey banned many symbols that were associated with the former Ottoman court, including the Fez, the Hajab, and the Mevlevi order. Although some are still banned, others like the Mevlevi order have been officially reinstated. Although the Kılıç Kalkan was not banned, it is a site that continues to negotiate between participants celebrating the past regime and the State which seeks to dissociate Turkey from the Ottoman Empire. In the video excerpts, the all male groups performed high leaps and skips, made rhythmic sounds by hitting and sliding swords against the shields, and engaged in mock battles.
We also watched numerous versions of Kaşık Oyunları, the dance performed with wooden spoons. It was interesting to see to young men in everyday clothes dance outside – in a relaxed manner, often gazing downward, and sometimes adding hip twists to their foot patterns. This was very different from the all female version performed on a large proscenium stage by The Tourism and Folklore Education Center Troupe. The dancers dressed in colorful pants, skirts, sleeves, and head coverings, gazed out towards the audience, with wide leg stances, and energetic movements, that included drastic level change (predominantly seen in Turkish male dancing).
We also learned that in Turkey Karşılama is a couple’s dance. However, it often performed by multiple male and female couples or by several dancers of the same gender. In many of the videos, the dancers made circular floor patterns, performed small footsteps, and added the occasional deep knee bend and small front leg kicks. One male duet added a hip twist into their front leg kick. Pretty impressive! This version is of course very different from the Karşılama found in Turkish-American Belly Dance. In the U.S., like its Turkish counterpart, it uses a 9/8 rhythm. However, in the U.S., the Karşılama refers to the 9/8 rhythm section often performed at the end of a seven-part solo routine, before the exit music.