Published: Oct 13, 2012 07:00 PM
Modified: Oct 13, 2012 04:11 PM
St. Augustine said, The world is a book, and those who dont travel read only one page.
This past July, the Apple Chill Cloggers traveled to Istanbul, Turkey, to dance in the seventh annual Küҫükҫekmece Lake Festival. Teams from Turkey, Brazil, Chinese Taipei, Italy, Canada, the U.S., Poland, Palestine and Hungary all came together for 10 days to dance and share their culture.
The Apple Chill Cloggers represented the U.S. with our traditional music, dance and costumes. Southern Appalachian clogging is a percussive dance with Irish, English and Native American influences. We dance to old-time music and most of our dances are based on square dance formations. Ladies wear different colors of calico dresses, with black tights and black shoes. Men wear white or red-checked shirts, suspenders and black pants.
Clogging is the state folk dance of North Carolina (the shag is the state popular dance). We love to perform, teach and share North carolina folk dance traditions at festivals around the state and in other countries.
We were very excited to be invited to Istanbul it has over 13.5 million people, and is located in both Europe and Asia. Some people know it is a very old city (founded in 660 B.C.), used to be called Constantinople, and maybe have heard the song about it (vimeo.com/6746927).
Eleven dancers, four musicians and three roadies traveled to Turkey. Everyone we met made us feel very welcome and they were eager to share their culture. The Turks are known for their hospitality they have a saying that every drop of Turkish coffee equals 40 years of friendship. We also drank lots of strong black Turkish tea (ҫay), offered to you by many shopkeepers and waiters. Some of us preferred apple tea (elma ҫayý) think melted apple Jolly Rancher candy. Tea is served in the ubiquitous clear tulip-shaped glasses.
We began the festival with a huge parade in Taksim Square, the center of modern Istanbul. We carried signs about peace and friendship, in Turkish and English. At the end, dancers from all countries held hands and did a simple Turkish dance, followed by a release of doves. In the evenings, we danced on a huge lakefront stage, with two jumbotron screens for the crowd.
After the performances, each country had a special night to share aspects of their country. The Canadians and Hungarians explained their elaborate costumes. The Italians, Poles and Chinese Taipei taught games and dances. The Brazilians taught the samba. We had a cake walk and taught a broom waltz like musical chairs, except you waltz around. When the music stops, grab another partner, and dont get left with the broom!
When we were not performing or practicing, our festival guides college students on the folk dance team at Marmara University showed us some of Istanbuls spectacular sites.
The Grand Bazaar is a riot of color, crowds, jeweled lamps, gold jewelry, blue evil eyes (nazar), belly dancing costumes and carpets. I asked our guide, Halil, why NBA jerseys were in the Bazaar. He said Turkish people like basketball too.
The Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace and a cruise along the Bosphorus River were equally amazing.
We all had different experiences: a visit to a hamam (bath house); playing backgammon and sharing a nargile (water pipe); or covering our hair at the Blue Mosque. We ate lokma, pide and dolma, and drank sour cherry juice, and anise-flavored Yeni Raký.
I would add a P.S. to St. Augustines travel quote: If you have the chance to experience other cultures, share yours, and make new friends along the way, you can help illustrate that book.
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