DAY 1: Welcome to Istanbul
Learn the art of Belly Dancing in mystical Turkey.
People across the world have been mesmerized by the beautiful art of belly dancing. Some consider its origins to be in Turkey, others believe it all started in Egypt or India. Surprisingly, this unique dance comes from all three of these countries. As one of the most ancient dance forms, you could say that belly dancing is Egyptian, ancient Orient, Arabic or Middle Eastern as it has been cultivated for centuries by these different regions. Some historical accounts claim traditional belly dancing began in fertility rituals and goddess worshipping ceremonies as performed by women to improve fertility and agility in childbirth. Belly dancing was also widely performed during the Ottoman Empire. In the imperial harems, women used to dance for sultanas as well as sultans. In America, it is believed belly dancing was introduced at the 1893 World Columbian Exposition in Chicago, where a dancer known by the stage name "Little Egypt" gave the first performance of Middle Eastern belly dancing to Americans. It is said that the term "belly dance" comes from a French word "danse du ventre," meaning "dance of the stomach." It is called "cifte telli" in Greece and "raks sharki" in Egypt. And in Turkey, belly dance is either referred to as "rakkas" or "göbek dansı," the latter a literal translation of belly dance in English. In short, there is no correct term for the belly dance, which has evolved and changed over thousands of years. Audience members may hear Egyptian and Middle Eastern pop during a performance, as well as Saudi rhythms and Hindi music while a belly dancer appears in her "bedleh," a costume featuring a two-piece, decorated bra and skirt set. Join us and immerse in the beautiful art of the belly dance.
DAY 2: Morning Belly Dance Class
This morning you will be enjoying your first authentic belly dance class led by the tutors of Istanbul Belly Dancer’s Association’s Studio! The studio has an excellent method of exercise and one of the most beautiful dance arts in the world.
If you are looking for a place to purchase a traditional belly dancer costume, Istanbul's famous Grand Bazaar is the perfect place to discover numerous glimmering varieties, where each graceful undulation is an expression of femininity and strength. A study at Western Michigan University revealed that the U.S. is incidentally known to have the highest number of belly dancers worldwide, including those of the Middle and Near East. Interestingly, belly dancing is also targeted as preference for its therapeutic aspects and is performed by women who suffer from physical illness, injury or psychological diseases.
This afternoon enjoy a guided immersion of Istanbul: First, you will visit the Hippodrome, was once the social center of Constantinople (the Byzantine name of the city). Built by the Romans in the 3rd Century AD, only fragments are left of what was once a grand stadium that held 100,000 spectators for public meetings and important events, including chariot races, coronations, political discussions, and executions. Later, you will continue to The Blue Mosque, one of the most important temples of worship in the world and named for the blue Iznik tile work that decorates its interior and with a dome that can be seen from all across the Sultanahmet district.
DAY 3: Morning Belly Dance Class
Morning belly dance class at Istanbul Belly Dancer’s Association’s Studio.
In the afternoon, you will visit the Hagia Sophia. First built by the Emperor Justinian and inaugurated in 537 AD., for more than nine centuries it was the center of the Eastern Orthodox Church and remains the world’s 4th largest church. Containing some of the finest mosaics to have survived from the Byzantine period, a haunting Virgin and Child in the Eastern apse is among them. Visit Old Spice Market where you may find a vast diversity of spices, sacks of henna, many varieties of oils and herbs, and of course the world’s very best Turkish delight. We will complete our experience at the Grand Bazaar, an enormous labyrinth of covered streets lined with thousands of shops that sell hand-woven carpets and kilims, gold and silver jewelry, hand-painted ceramics, leather goods, fine antiques and illuminated manuscripts.
DAY 4: Morning Belly Dance Class
Morning belly dance class at Istanbul Belly Dancer’s Association’s Studio.
Enjoy an afternoon guided tour with a nostalgic cruise on the Bosphorus in the comfort and relaxing environment of your private motorboat. Soak up the atmosphere of this famous riviera as you glide by the famous sights and monuments.
Cruise along both Asian and European shores passing the waterfront palaces of Sultans and their Pasha’s villas. Relax and enjoy close-up views, including the European Side, Dolmabahçe Palace, Çirağan Palace, Rumeli Fortress, the Bosphorus Bridge, the Asian Side, Anadolu Fortress, Beylerbeyi Palace, and more.
After the cruise, enjoy a truly local Turkish experience. Learn Turkish bathing culture in one of the historical hammams of the city where you will enjoy the benefits of centuries-old bathing rituals of the Ottomans.
DAY 5: Morning Flight to Cappadocia
This morning, you will have an airport pick-up service for boarding a flight bound for Cappadocia! On arrival continue to our awaiting comfortable vehicle and drive to the land of wonders that is Cappadocia.
Cappadocia’s interesting and remarkable topography features a dream-like landscape of beautiful villages and houses carved from soft volcanic ash, underground cities and frescoed churches.
The so-called fairy chimneys and troglodyte dwellings will take you to another world and guarantee an unforgettable impression. We visit the rock formations in Dervent Valley onto Zelve Valley, the oldest example of Cappadocian architecture, elaborate shelters carved into the rock by the earliest monastic settlers.
Nearby Pasabag also known as Monk’s Valley are the amazing examples of hermitages hollowed out of volcanic rock formations.
Next, visit the village of Avanos situated on the banks of the river Kızıl Irmak, the largest river in Turkey. The city is known mainly for the millenarian handmade confections of tapestry and red clay pottery extracted from the banks of Kızıl Irmak where we will visit a ceramic cooperative to learn of the production process of the famous Turkish ceramics.
Before returning to the hotel, we will participate in a one-hour traditional rug workshop. The ancient tradition of carpet weaving deeply lies in Turkish art and culture.
Observe this disciplined and time-consuming skill at a hand-made carpet weaving demonstration that includes the history of carpet weaving, weaving techniques, the dying process and an explanation of pattern and motif meanings.
DAY 6: Morning Belly Dance Class
For today’s morning Belly Dance Class, you will be joined by professional dancer Clara Sussekind. A native of Brazil, Clara studied classical dance and graduated from the Faculdade da Cidade in Rio de Janeiro. She became interested in the mystical world of Oriental Dance and dedicated her life to traveling the world, researching and performing such specialty dances as belly, Roman, and Indian dances, as well as the Dervish ritualistic turn. Clara has performed in Brazil, Spain, Egypt, Morocco, the Netherlands and now Turkey.
She resides in Cappadocia and is the star of the Turkish Night Show where her solo performances include The Dance of the Seven Veils, Sword Dance, Percussion and Roman dance as well as the breathtaking Egyptian Sema with decorative drums.
Today’s belly dance class with her provide a great opportunity for learning. She has performed at great events all around the world and reaches an audience of almost 70,000 a year during her daily performance in Cappadocia.
In the afternoon, you will be meeting and cooking with locals, including spice immersion in a traditional stone arch house of Cappadocia in a small Turkish style village. Besides cooking in this lovely family house, you will also experience Turkish hospitality and traditional village life.
Then, head to the village of Avanos which is situated on the banks of the river Kızıl Irmak, the largest river in Turkey. The city is known mainly for the millenarian handmade confections of tapestry and red clay pottery - extracted from the banks of Kızıl Irmak - where we will visit a family run traditional pottery shop and get to know the entire production process of the famous Turkish ceramics.
Our final visit is to one of the most popular wineries of the region. Cappadocia’s history has been blessed with many vineyards. The Okuzgozu- Bogazkere combinations (grapes native to Turkey) are quite promising. The family-operated winery is located underground, carved in natural rock. This natural cellar also provides excellent storage conditions for the wine.
DAY 7: Morning Belly Dance Class
Morning Belly Dance Class
In the afternoon, visit the amazing underground city of Kaymakli. Signs of an early troglodyte lifestyle are evident in the communal kitchens blackened by smoke, stables and storage spaces carved into the rocks. The maze of living quarters, hundreds of feet below ground, is startling proof that tens of thousands of people existed deep within the earth. Later you will see the Pigeon Valley, where for centuries the locals kept pigeons in niches carved in the rock for their valuable fertilizing manure.
Uchisar is an extraordinary rock formation towering above the landscape and visible for miles around. This rock, riddled with windows and tunnels, was once used as a fortification, and offers a magnificent panoramic view of Cappadocia and Mt. Erciyes in the distance. Before checking in at our hotel we will get a chance to see a ceremony performed by the Whirling Dervishes in an ancient Caravanserail. This order was founded by a Sufi mystic who believed that music and dance can induce an ecstatic state that liberates one’s soul from the stress and suffering of daily life. The ceremony consists of five parts and includes prayers, greetings, and musical improvisations. Its culmination is the whirling, which symbolizes the spiritual accent to divine harmony.
DAY 8: See You Again!
Don’t leave yet!!
Extend your journey on one of our numerous global learning programs. We look forward to welcoming you back on another Learning Journeys immersion.
Perhaps you’re interested in visiting India to experience the art of Bollywood dance. Visit Russia to study ballet. Whatever your interest, Learning Journeys can assist you with finding the perfect program to fulfil your dreams.