As promised, ISTANBUL!
August 7th, Tuesday:
Kyria and I both slept until 10ish. We were in need of a nice sleep. We quietly ate our morning yogurt and granola. Kyria apologized for trying to steer our beds the first night. I told her not to worry about it.
We sent some emails trying to figure out if we had connections to get a nice, discounted, price on a nightclub show. If we couldn’t, Kyria would go and pay whatever and I would skip it, having seen three nightclub shows for various prices my first trip to Istanbul. I reviewed my list of contacts and such. I wanted to make sure I could be a good lesson organizer.
As I’ve mentioned before, we were also in need of alone time. I’d spent my previous week with dancers and she’d been on a boat. The fact that we’d both sometimes need our personal space, and that we were more interested in studying dance than seeing ALL THE SITES this time, were things we’d each established before agreeing to travel/stay together.
The game plan was this:
We both go off, by ourselves, and do whatever we have to do in the morning/afternoon. Meet at Taxim Square a little before 5pm. Walk together to the location Ozlem Idilsu told us to call her from.
Then we set off. I didn’t have much of an agenda except to walk a bit and be alone. I walked up towards the square…and remembered a used/new cd/book store I’d bought many things at last time. Sure enough, Mephisto was still there.
I bought a few CDs and then walked. I went up to the square. Once there I checked to see how much money I still had on my Akbil (a plastic thingy with a metal button on it that you can charge up and use for all transportation). Huge thanks go to Sophie for reminding me to keep mine between trips, just in case. I still had 70 turkish lira (30 Euro, 38USD!) . I made a side trip to make sure I’d be able to navigate us to the Ozelm spot later.
With that done…more walking, some of it of the I have no clue where I am variety. I stopped at a café for a HUGE green salad and espresso. The nice guy running the café took pity on sweaty me and brought me some additional fruits and juices, no charge.
In walking I remembered how I'd undermined my lessons last time in Istanbul. I had gone and seen ALL the sites and had often been lost. I’d devastated my leg muscles by walking EVERYWHERE in the first half of my trip (you have no idea how many steps and hills are in Istanbul) and the second half of the trip, when I took most of my lessons, I was sore and inflexible.
I went back to the apartment to shower, nap and lunch.
At the apartment, someone knocked. “Laundry!”
I let the small woman in. She pointed to the balcony. That was her laundry drying out there. I let her have it, making sure to save our own towels. I removed the top sheet from my bed…now that I understood it was hers…and handed it over.
How this laundry thing worked, I don’t know. All I knew is that we were back to one top sheet to two beds.
I napped for a while and then headed back out. Where? No clue.
Eventually I was roasting and waiting for Kyria at the square… And waiting.
IPads automatically sense that you’ve changed time zones and adapt, iPhones do not and have to be manually changed. Kyria had been judging how much relax and nap time >she< had by her, one hour-off, iPhone.
She sent me a message once she realized her error. As Kyria rushed up Iskandal street (by way of the ineffective but quaint trolley…we’d yet to discover the tucked-away metro that would have saved us time between the bottom of Iskandal and the Square) I sent a text to Ozlem saying we’d be a little late.
Rejoined, more apologies, and we walked toward the Ozlem spot.
We found, what we thought was the spot, and called. Then we waited, awkwardly talking about kitties.
Culture point: Istanbul is run by cats. Everyone feeds the cats and there are, by my scientific study, 2.4 cats per store.
I didn’t know much about Ozlem at all. I’d first become aware of her on Raks Turkey when looking into the teachers available. When I was on LJ, trying to figure out more about which lessons to take, Sophie vouched for Ozlem as a great dancer, teacher, and good friend. I trust Sophie. She’s probably the most similarly inspired on-line friend/dancer I have. I need to meet her.
Ozlem found us and brought us back to her flat. As with all of our lessons, the fact that we were only a group of two allowed us to study in flats and small spaces thus avoiding the extra cost of renting studio spaces.
Dancer flats all sort of look alike after a while. Here Thar Be Mirrors! Everything else is moveable, the mirrors are fixed and MOST IMPORTANT. She also has a painting someone made of her, which I recognized from some FB page, and a pile of workout-dance-conditioning DVDs that made me think of my own, Khalidas, and what I assume to be Sophie’s pile. Kyria also noticed the fitness equiptment and dvds.
We went down to the basement/toilet/costume/washing rooms to change and then came up and got down to business.
We decided to focus on Turkish Roma 9/8 basics for the lesson.
Ozlem breaks down some of the essential footwork needed for Turkish Roma. She uses her own terminology which is similar to mine. Her A is my Basic Hopstep. Her B is my Shift Shift Shuffle Step. Her C is my Basic side-side.
She and I are on similar pages when it comes to teaching style and breaking-it-down style. She’s also HELLA smart.
“Özlem studied American Culture and Literature at Istanbul University. Before completing the 4 year programme, she started studying English Linguistics at Stockholm University. At the same time she took courses of Swedish Literature, Greek and Social Studies as a hobby. She continued her studies at Turkish and Turkic Languages Department of Uppsala University, and she also studied for one term as an exchange student at Boğaziçi University. Linguistics always remains as a passionate interest and a subject of study for her. “ ….more from her bio.
While most of the basics were review for me, I picked up some fun accents and turns from her. It was well worth it for both of us to take her class together. I’d recommend it to anyone going to Istanbul to study 9/8 Turkish Roma. Having someone breakdown the steps, in English, in an easy to understand manner paves the way for taking lessons from Roma teachers (Reyhan Tuznuz) or Roma-inspired teachers (Sema Yildiz) who do more of a “follow the bounding butt.” style of teaching. If you’ve got a good sense of the rhythm, weight change, and “go-to” steps, you’ll waste less time when following that butt.
I also recommend studying with Reyhan’s Raw Roman DVD (wherein her student, Delpha…who has now moved from Istanbul) breaks down the basics) or Elizabeth Strong’s Turkish Roman Dance DVD (Elizabeth’s primary Roman teacher is Reyhan).
We talked with Ozlem after the class about her schedule and her life. She’d mentioned that she dances at Galeta Tower every night…so I asked about that. Yes, the Galeta Tower located 1 minutes from out apartment, every night, traditional nightclub show but all the dancers dance to LIVE music.
We wanted to go…we wanted to go that night…could we….get a “friend of the dancer price?” Probably…YES! Could she call it in? SCORE!
We thanked her and scurried back (over hills and hills, with the help of my Google-map-GPS-fu) to our apartment. SHOWERS! CHANGE OF CLOTHING!
Were we not ready to be ENTERTAINED?!?!?!
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