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An Apology from Artemis

Artemis in blueDear Dancers;

I wish to make a formal apology to the dance community. A year ago, I was working on an instructional DVD for IAMED on Turkish Oriental dance. We shot the entire DVD in one day. They asked me if I wanted to be in an additional compilation DVD with many other dancers. I agreed and so, at the end of the day we hurriedly taped a small section on fusion skirt dancing to a Turkish 9/8 rhythm. We did this in very few takes. This material was divided and placed in Volume I and Volume II of the compilation DVDs entitled "Ultimate Combinations." As many of you know, I am a dance historian as well as a dancer and my best known specialties are Turkish Romany (Gypsy) dance and its "daughter dance" the Turkish Oriental. I never teach anywhere unless I can offer information about the culture and country that produces the dances I am teaching. So on the compilation DVD, I spoke about how many Romany people do not like the "Gypsy" word. I also said that this skirt dance was not an authentic one but was based on skirt gestures that come from Romany cultures in Russia, India, Spain and Turkey - all fused together with non-Romany material into theatrical performance pieces. I also spoke about how some Romany cultures would never touch their skirts while dancing as touching the skirt is considered to be "mahrime" or taboo. I have researched Turkish dance very thoroughly and after 16 trips to Turkey I can say that I have never seen an entire dance done with skirt gesturing. But skirt gesturing is visually appealing and dramatic on stage and so this has became a very popular dance in the US. Ten years ago, most of us thought it was an authentic genre because this is what WE had been taught. But the obligation of doing good research is that we must constantly revise our theories as we learn new information. We now know that this is not an authentic Turkish dance.

I was horrified six weeks ago when I received the final IAMED compilation DVDs and I realized that on Volume II, there was an error in my commentary. What I thought I was saying was: "There is no such thing as Turkish Romany SKIRT dance." The actual words that came out of my mouth were: "There is no such thing as Turkish Romany dance." I was not aware that I had left out one word. Nobody caught this misstatement in the studio or in the editing room. In my attempt to make an accurate and educational statement, I misread the script that I had written and I unintentionally made an extremely inaccurate statement. In one sentence, I contradicted my life’s work. As a political activist for the Roma, I was especially devastated by this mistake. I have written many articles on Turkish Romany dance, Turkish Oriental dance and the plight of the Roma. I have worked very hard to reinstate Turkish Oriental dance into its rightful place within the Oriental dance community. I have taught countless workshops in 29 states and outside of the US and I am writing a book and doing a documentary film on these very subjects. I have encouraged the need for dancers to study authentic Romany dance and to differentiate between authentic, fusion and fantasy dance. While supporting people’s rights to create fusion forms, I have encouraged them to go to the source dances and learn them well before attempting to fuse anything. I have promoted the idea of the need for dancers to accurately label the dances they are doing. I have wholeheartedly encouraged people to study authentic material from my dear friends and colleagues Eva Cernik, Dalia Carella and Tayyar Akdeniz who teach and perform flawless Turkish style dance. I also co-direct the Folk Tours Middle Eastern Music and Dance Camps in the US and their festivals in Turkey where Turkish style is represented, presented and taught along side of Egyptian and other dance genres. On a personal note, my family are Greeks from Turkey and I have worked hard to use dance to promote good relations between the people of these two countries. So, I have performed and diligently promoted Turkish dance for 35 years.

I wrote to IAMED and offered to remix the master and put an errata sticker in the DVDs at my own expense. Last night, they agreed to remix the master for the future DVDs. But there were 1000 copies of the old versions made so I am still requesting that we do an errata sticker. I hope they will agree. If you have bought this DVD, please make note of my mistake and accept my apology. If you are selling this DVD, please alert people of my misstatement and/or contact me and I will send you an apology letter for each DVD you have. Or, if you can let me know who has bought them, I will write to them directly.

I wish I could undo this but the only things I can think of to do are to email everybody I know and ask my friends to email everybody they know on the dance list serves to apologize. I wrote to Eva, Dalia and Tayyar and they have been absolutely wonderful about this. They know it was an honest mistake and they enthusiastically offered their support to me. I wish to apologize to all of my friends and colleagues and to the students of Turkish dance everywhere. I am putting an apology on my website at I want to apologize to the Roma everywhere and especially in Turkey for this unfortunate error. I hope that my full length IAMED DVD on Turkish Oriental dance will do justice to this subject when it comes out next month. In this DVD, I talk about authentic Turkish Romany dance and teach a small amount. In 2007, when I make my own DVDs, I will have the final say on editing so this can never happen again. The last and most important thing I can do is to continue to educate people about the racist fueled plight of the Roma worldwide. I hope that you all will accept my heartfelt apology. If you wish to write to me about any of this, my email address is and I will try to reply to you when I get back from teaching in Japan in mid-May.

Thank you.

Elizabeth Artemis Mourat, MA, MSW, LCSW-C


A Follow Up Letter and Thank You from Artemis

Dear Dance Friends;

It has been a long time since I sent out my apology email to the dance world for the misstatement in the IAMED Ultimate Combinations Volume 2 DVD. I am writing to thank you all for your wonderful support regarding that matter and to tell you that there is a new DVD out now with correct information about Turkish Oriental and Turkish Romani (Gypsy) dance. If you have not followed the story, I was in a DVD with many other dancers and I meant to say; "There is no such thing as the Turkish Romani SKIRT dance." but the words that came out of my mouth were; "There is no such thing as the Turkish Romani dance." My life’s work has been to teach Oriental dance and my specialties are Turkish Oriental and Turkish Romani dance. I was so horrified and crushed when I saw the DVD that in April I wrote a formal apology to the dance world to try to correct any misconception that might come from my misstatement. I asked people to share the apology with others. The response to my email was overwhelming and unanimously positive. I received many, many emails from all over the world - from people who knew me and from people I have never even met. The outpouring of kindness was staggering to me and I confess that I cried happy tears as I read each email. People understood the misstatement for what it was - a mistake as my mouth disconnected from my brain for one split second. People were forgiving. Even some Romani people wrote wonderful things about how they appreciate my work as a political activist on their behalf. My 87 year old father (a very wise Turkish Greek) told me; "Kathe embothyo sto kalo." which is a saying that means that out of every obstacle comes something good. When I was in the depths of unhappiness about the DVD, I was not so convinced (even though I am optimistic by nature). But after the huge and supportive response to my apology email, I realized that (as usual), he is right. The emails were beautiful, heartfelt and encouraging and there was NOT ONE harsh or negative word from anyone.

I learned a great deal from all of this. The lessons were at first painful, but then enlightening and now indelible. I learned about forgiveness (from the dance community and from the Roma and then about self forgiveness). I also learned about our own dance community. I have always said that when we teach dance, it is about teaching more than dance technique. We teach about life, health, self care and art. As teachers of an ethnic dance form, our responsibilities are even more complex. We are charged with an obligation to teach about history, culture, the status of women, racism and all the other “isms” that hold back equality. We are in the business of planting seeds. We never know where they will land or if they will take root. But years after we have been some place, we can find the fruits of our labors in many likely and even unlikely places. The students of Turkish dance from Eva Cernik, Dalia Carella, Tayyar Akdeniz and myself are everywhere. Our students and our student’s students are now performing and teaching Turkish and Romani dance. There is an enormous resurgence of interest in these styles and it is growing. Many of these people wrote to me. They even told me that they learned from the apology email that I sent out - about the Roma, about Turkish Dance, about the process of doing research and about what skirt dance is and is not. Dancers of Romani styles, Oriental dancers, Tribal artists and fusion folks said that they felt validated.

I have not written my public reply to you until now for two reasons. I wanted to personally write to everyone who emailed their support to me. There were so many people to answer that it took a long time but I just sent the last one. There were some people who wrote to the list serves who I could not thank personally because I don’t navigate most of those waters. But my friends sent me those encouraging words. Please know that I wanted to thank them and I thank you too for reading this far. The second reason for the delay in my response is that I was waiting for IAMED to respond to my request to put an insert in the existing copies of the DVDS. IAMED agreed to remix the master to correct my misstatement before they make any future copies but there were already 1000 made with the mistake. They have finally now agreed that they will insert small cards (which I have made) that explain the misstatement and what I intended to say. I shipped the cards off to IAMED today. They will insert them into the DVDs that they have in their possession now. They do not want to send the inserts to the vendors, so I am asking your help. If you are a vendor and if you would like for me to send you the inserts, I will happily send them to you and I will pay you for whatever time it takes to open up the DVDs, insert the cards and shrink wrap them. If you already own a copy, I will gladly send you an insert. Or if you know of any copies that are out there, now or in the future, that do not have the insert, I will happily send the cards to anybody, anywhere. Just email me and tell me where to send them. My email address is : artemisdances(at)

I have other things to tell you about. My new Turkish Oriental instructional IAMED DVD is finally out. This is the one that I originally went to California to do 16 months ago. As always, I include some history, culture and some Romany material in it. I never teach this type of dance without honoring the Roma and giving them credit so there is a mini documentary in it. I am pleased with the product. In fact I just bought 100 to sell. This is just the first step in a series of DVDs that I will make in the future with Serpentine Communications in 2007. We have been drafting a series of instructional DVDs on Turkish Oriental dance and Turkish Romany dance. They will include many special topics and a great deal of information about history, culture and music. I intend to preserve my life's work while I am still spry enough to do it. After all, it will be up to you to carry the torch and I have faith that you will do a good job. It is also up to you to respect and support the many fine Romani artists who carry their own torch.

Lastly, I want to send my heartfelt thanks to all of you for your generous words of support. My faith was bolstered in infinite proportions by the understanding and compassionate responses that I received. I am humbled by the outpouring of affection and will never, ever forget it.

With warm wishes and gratitude,

Elizabeth Artemis Mourat, MA, MSW, LCSW-C







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