I grew up in the very urban culture of central Istanbul in the ‘90s. My generation was very crowded, very outgoing and very colourful. Fairytales, folktales and urban legends were part of the city life, as well as theatre, concerts, literature. My young years were full of celebration, adventure and pleasure.

I can trace the beginning of my dance journey consciously at 4 years old, when I saw a belly dancer on a very popular Sunday night TV show.

I was 14 when another TV Show, “Shall We Dance?” changed my life forever. Before, dance was a part of my life but I did not really think about professionally. When I started watching the show, I realized that dance could be a rewarding and creative career.

At highschool and university, my idea of a “career” changed, from a more reward-oriented approach to a more wholistic approach.

I developed my dance both in studios but also freestyle, in the subculture I grew up in.

During national college exams, I got a degree in both Language and Social Science sections. Yet I chose to attend Sabancı University, which asks for mathematics and science as well. The reason is, the only Faculty which unifies Arts and Social Science in most countries, was Sabancı University.

For four years, I built a bridge between dance and all branches of social science. I did projects about Dance in Art History and about the Japanese belly dancers of the Turkish psych band Baba Zula in “Anthropology of Migration” class.

After a successful college life, I naturally wanted to attend a Master’s programme which unifies Dance and Social Science. Therefore, I applied to University of Amsterdam and wrote a thesis called “Telling Stories of Strength: This is Belly Dance!”

In 2019, I embodied the ancient soul of Istanbul in a dance movie, bringing the character Denizkızı Eftelya to life.

This movie was shown in England by the director Lerna Babikyan.

In 2020, I got nominated to become a Member of CID-UNESCO by the President of the Council, Prof. Dr. Alkis Raftis.

In 2022, I made a speech about Turkish belly dance being an art form of independent Turkish women, criticizing Orientalist and sexist perspectives of the western world.

I also had the courage to criticize the prejudices in my own country, which contributed to the representation of my country even more, because of the intellectual courage I displayed.

In May 2023, I organized my first festival, “Transcontinental Power of Dance and Literature” with a focus on Brazil. Because of my position as a CID-UNESCO Member, The Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality became my sponsor. This festival was the first in Turkey which included Zouk, Brazilian Funk, Afro-Brazilian roots of Samba and Brazilian style belly dance. It was a success.

Since 2021, I teach in my own studio, Naiada Dance Studio & International Social Club. My studio and education model is putting Turkish belly dance on the global map.

Gayrettepe Mh. Cemil Aslan Güder Sk. No: 3/1 Lale Apt. B Blok D: 23 Beşiktaş/İstanbul