Jaynie Aydin Ethnographic Dance Research and Performance


One of the most noteworthy seasonal celebrations in the Turkic world falls on the 6th of May. On this day the Moslem Saint Hızır and the Biblical Prophet Elijah are believed to meet on earth in order to usher in the coming of Spring. This modern springtime ritual has roots in the older calendric tradition of water worship originated from Pre- Judaic, Pre- Christian, and Pre- Islamic times. The Balkan equivalent of Hıdrellez is Saint George’s Day celebrated on the 23rd of April in accordance with the Pre- Gregorian calendar.

Today, both urban and rural Turks come together in villages and cities to dance through the night and to jump over public bonfires, set up to cleanse the spirit in preparation for the light half of the year.

Dr. Jaynie has been filming Hıdrellez events in Turkey for the past five years. She has filmed and archived the changes as well as the continuities and consistencies of the Turkish Roman belly dances typically performed at these folk festivals. Dr. Jaynie writes, “It is amazing to me how, despite efforts to commercialize and even globally market this event to tourists and foreign belly dancers, the folk essence of this age old tradition remains obvious especially in the celebratory dances performed by the local men, women, and children.”