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Turkish Orientale's strong roots in Romany dance and music has led to an increased interest in Turkish Romany. Some very excellent belly dancers now perform and teach both Turkish Oriental and Turkish Romany. Aslahan has a clear description on her web site about the differences between Turkish Romany and Turkish Oriental.

Ahmet Ogren has a web site but not much on it. He did take the time to post the following on

"Roman Dance is an individual dance and is a dance of improvisation. Roman Dancer dances according to what one feels within the music that is being played.

"In order to dance Romany dance one must do a research on Roman Dance. Their life style and mentality must be taken to consideration. If you want to really learn Roman Dance then research on your teachers as well, swirling the skirts does not make a Roman Dancer!

"The difference between Karsilama and Roman dance is: Karsilama: 1-2, 1-2, 1-2, 1-2-3 as a measuring rhythm (Never can be danced as a Solo). Roman: 1-2, 1-2, 1-2, 1-3 as a measuring rhythm. More simplified 1-2-3-4-5: One step, two step, three step, Four; (Skip) Jump, Five a step."


David of Davr:

Roman musicians play many kinds of music. mostly for restaurant gigs and non-roman events they will play all kinds of standard Turkish folk, pop and even classical and many play a little Arabic music too. essentially, they are paid musicians and are going to play what most people in turkey want: turkish music(with a little roman thrown in). Basically, it's a gig. Now, that has nothing to do with what they consider to be Roman music and dance or 'Roma Oyun Havasi', as it is called. this music and dance features exclusively(at this time) 9/8 music and the movements you will see from Reyhan. this is what they play and dance at their events and weddings. and is seen all over inside the old Ottoman borders of Trakya/Thrace - now Turkey, eastern Greece, southern Bulgaria. the music and dance are completely their own thing and have very specific tendencies with room for improv as the art progresses.

If a Roman person dances to non-Roman(non- Roman 9/8) music, it is just called "dance" it is no longer Roman oyun havasi.

Karsilama... has nothing specific to do with Roman Oyun Havasi. Karsilama is a Turkish/Greek partner folk dance that has many variations around Turkey and is done commonly to the standard turkish 9/8 (D-T-D-TT-) that everyone knows, but also to many other rhythms including 3,5,7,10. the steps in Roman Oyun Havasi dance may be similar to some versions of karsilama dance but are not necessarily used. Wiki says: Karsilamas is a Turkish folk dance spread all over Northwest Asia Minor and carried to Greece by Asia Minor refugees.

So, the rhythms: that standard Turkish 9/8, (which is often called karsilama in the USA, not in Turkey), is almost never used in Roman songs. The main forms of 9/8 used in the majority of Roman music, there are many many variations of these rhythms, as a percussionist, i would say there are about 8 to 10 standard variations of 2 or 3 main forms that i generally hear and use. they are weird and do not sound like the 9/8 we all know and love!

Ahmet Ogren on KARSILAMA: Karsilama is not a Roman Dance... they both share 9/8 rhythm. All music that has 9/8 rhythm is not a Roman music.Karsilama Dance has rules and regulations, without these rules there won't be a Karsilama Dance! These Rules are:

  • Measures must be within 9;
  • Handkerchief must be used;
  • Most important part of the dance is that it must be danced with at least two or more people. It is never done as a Solo Dance.

Roman Dance is an individual dance and is a dance of improvisation. Roman Dancer dances according to what one feels within the music that is being played.

  • In order to dance Romany dance one must do a research on Roman Dance. Their life style and mentallity must be taken to consideration.
  • If you want to really learn Roman Dance then research on your teachers as well, swirling the skirts does not make a Roman Dancer!
  • Of course you can dance to 9/8 but do not say, "I am dancing to Karsilama or Roman."


Artemis Mourat, teaching Turkish Romany in Louisville in 2006, gave us a list of movements and gestures that are featured in Turkish Romany dance. According to Artemis, the hand gestures had no meaning other than the obvious; in short, we were free to use them as desired.

  • Arms are held in the area just above the head down to the upper thighs; rarely fully extended except in the shoulder region;
  • They all know the Romany 9/8 (1,3,5,7,8);
  • No finger cymbals;
  • One- or two-handed finger snaps;
  • No veils or floor work, although they may quickly drop to one knee and then up;
  • Gestures (usually on 1,3, 1,3,5,7, or 1,3,5,7,8):
    • Slaps
    • Gramophone
    • Stir the pot
    • Wind the yarn
    • Punch knee, then ankle
    • Punch alternate hips
    • Sharp cuts with side of hand up the arm
    • Cut pubis bone, then belly
    • Cut belly, then chest
    • Cut chin, then forehead, and do a head slide
    • Wrist - twist - wrist
    • Saw
    • Tap under breast
    • Point finger across the body
  • Pelvic articulations up and down in front; Roma belly throws (gobek atmak);
  • Hips:
    • Shimmies, worked with knees
    • Circles
    • Figure 8s
    • Omi
    • Hip lifts
  • Belly:
    • Rolls
    • Pelvic roll down
    • Belly throw (gobek atmak)
    • Straight up
    • Straight down
  • Shoulder shimmies; shoulder thrusts; head slides and head tilts.
Hadia: "Although many of the Turkish oriental dancers are, in fact, Roman girls, Turkish Roman dance, with the exception of the strong pelvic movements, is a very different form of dance. The Roman is a strong, powerful, earthy, visceral and raw form of dance, at times almost trance like and internal, at times bursting with strength and joy and VERY much a part of the earth upon which these people have been forced to roam. Although each dancer is spontaneous and individual, they all use a repertoire of common gestures and movements that personify and connect them to a past - perhaps the only tangible unifying connection for a people with no history."
  • Gestures:
    • Making soup
    • Doing laundry
    • Grinding, making and drinking coffee
    • Musicians playing the instruments of the traditional Roman music such as the kanoon, clarinet, kamanji, zurna, and drum.
    • hard work and guns
    • perfume and sweetness of flowers
    • lights from candles at a wedding celebration
    • the showing and tapping of precious bracelets that represented the wealth of the family.
  • Foot patterns: The foot patterns are few, but take a great deal of practice to be able to change from one to the other seamlessly and effortlessly, especially while navigating the tricky 9/8 rhythm.
  • Torso movements: Turkish Roman is essentially defined by an almost primal, or what I call visceral focus on strong abdominal contractions and releases of the pelvis. However, far from being vulgar these pelvic movements combine with the earthy grounded foot patterns [and] gestures create a dance so unique, captivating and REAL that few can resist its magic.

A few notes gathered from

"What you will be told are the meanings will vary greatly depending on who you talk to, what their relationship is to Romani culture, what they might judge YOUR relation to Romani culture to be..yadda yadda yadda. Some gestures (skirt wringing, scrubbing, instruments mimed, making bread) are drawn from real-life, some gestures do have multiple meanings (sweeping the arms in some ways can mean anything from "look at how well I am provided for, my bangles; to... where ARE my bangles?... why aren't you providing more? and then there are cuts and hits. Cuts and hits are usually primarily to somewhat show percussive sounds, accents, and can be used over most of the body...sometimes a hit to the hip might indicate your powerful baby-capable hips but might also just mean the music is playing a Dum..."


From Bhuz:

If you bring in a lot of skirt work into your solo, be aware that skirt work and skirt choreography to Turkish/Romani music generally comes from American Cabaret interpretation and is not traditionally part of Turkish Romani dance. There are some Russian Romani who do a dance of displaying large skirts (but it isn't that swooshy) and there is some skirt in Flamenco which also has Romani roots, but some Romani do consider the skirt touching and flipping about to be unclean.

Not to say that you can't touch your skirt, or even that you can't do American Cabaret skirt work, just that it isn't Turkish ”Gypsy”/Romani and shouldn't be presented as such.

Artemis, noted dancer and researcher in the US, explains why skirt dancing is NOT Roma /gypsy dance, but an American invention! With some discussion on how to skirt dance effectively.

Dalia Carella: "My feet are really in the mud when I perform my gypsy dance!"


  • I've been watching videos of Ozgen on you tube, and there are two videos of him doing Turkish Roman where towards the end he takes off one shoe, shoves it in his trousers and waggles it about. When he was here he explained that this is not uncommon in Romani dance. Anything that emphasizes the pelvic movements can be used (i.e. shoe, knotted sweater or jacket, belt etc). Romani dance as performed by men is rather more overtly sexual & ”macho” than what we are used to.
  • If you watch Romani dancing, it is quite common that guys tie their jacket around their hips and make the sleeves flip around a lot. Eva Cernik mentioned the Ozgen clip in a workshop, and also shared that during Hedereljezi, it is common that men put an (open) water bottle into their pants, just like the shoe, which is gonna lead to spillage. During a spring festival that is related to fertility celebrations, it is hard not to come to a fairly clear interpretation ..., and Eva thought that the shoe thing has similar roots.


Teachers who specialize in Turkish dance often understand Turkish Romany dance. Ruric has taken workshops from several of these teachers, so if you are a student and want Ruric's recommendation before investing money, ask her!

  • Elizabeth Artemis Mourat is a dance legend whose best known specialties are Turkish Romany (Gypsy) dance and its "daughter dance" the Turkish Oriental. Both Ruric-Amari and Anna took workshops with her in Louisville when MEDSOK brought her to town in 2006, at the Folk tours dance camp in 2007 and 2008, plus a week-long intensive in Maryland in 2010. You can buy her DVD Turkish Style Belly Dance from her web site or on
  • Tayyar Adkeniz is also a highly praised Turkish music and dance teacher. Ruric has taken workshops from him at Folk tours in 2006 and 2007. He has a small amount of information on his web site.
  • Eva Cernik is also a a highly regarded specialist in Turkish dance, including Romany dances. Here is a recent video of her dancing.
  • Elizabeth Strong is an American dancer who has studied and performs Turkish Romany dance. Ruric took a workshop with her when Mecca brought her to Lexington in 2006.
  • Armani Ali, based in Goshen IN, teaches and performs Turkish Romany dance. Ruric took a workshop with her in 2007.
  • Reyhan and her husband, Romany music and dance partners.
  • Ahmet Ogren. Like many dancers and teachers, he has a web site but not much on it.
Turkish Shalwar


  • Per Artemis Mourat, Roma in Turkey do not wear cabaret costumes unless they are performing as professional cabaret dancers, in which case they would be performing Turkish Oriental belly dance, not the typical Romany style done by women and girls of all ages.
  • Romany women who perform at Romany events frequently wear shalwar (traditional gathered trousers with deep crotch) or tiered skirts (NOT extremely full skirts, though) to perform.


Artemis: You can see Artemis do a lot of the gestures listed below in this 2011 performance at Tribal Fest, starting at about 1:05 (the first minute is Turkish Oriental) and running through 3:01.

Artemis: Interview in which she describes the artistic and political necessity of studying Romany dance before talking about or performing it.

Aslahan, Turkish Roman Dance,, Web.

Kajira Djoumahna, The Gypsy Trail— Antiquity and the Avant Garde, Crescent Moon magazine, May 1996. Interview with Carolena Nericcio and Dalia Carella.

Jaynie Aydin, PhD, long-time student of Aisha Ali, Turkish Roma researcher, and belly dance performer. (Recommended by Marguerite.) She has several short videos of the May 5 Hidrellez event on line.

Ahmet Ogren, Turkish Roman dancer and teacher.


  • Didem on Turkish TV. She is famous for her belly dance but she was born a Roma.
  • Didem Roma Havasi on Turkish TV.
  • Didem again. Hard to do this properly in heels, I think.

Eva Cernik, one of America's foremost performers of the style.

Fatima Serin performs a lively roman havasi. .

Jennet Shook in a solo performance.

Ozgen:Turkish Romany and Orientale dancer.


  • Reyhan set the gold standard for female solo with this performance of a roman havasi on Oryantal Star tv show.
  • Reyhan again, with some cute by-play with a male from the audience who gets up to dance.

Reyhan Tuzsuz: Reyhan T and her husband have been slowly making their mark in the international dance circles for their authentic dance and music.

Salome, Ahmet Orgen: Romany Dance, Web. Interview with Ahmet Orgenin which he describes the essence of Romany Dance.

Jennet Shook, solo performance with lots of hand movements, Web.

Sophie Armoza:

A twenty-minute documentary on Turkish Roma music and dance .

School festival videos:

Roman Havasi, social dance at a party.

More social Roman Havasi at a party.

More social Roman Havasi at a party.

A good example of stomach throwing at a Romany event by a woman who seems to be the professional entertainment. Clearly defined Romany 9/8 beat in the background with wailing electronic guitar on top. The woman is dressed in salwar with a head scarf.

Female dancers with the traditional salwar and stomach throws.

How To Dance When Your Car Breaks Down; Two guys and a girl, to say nothing of the shoe!

Maura Enright:

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