Go Hunting for Joy with Eshe Yildiz – 056

Hear how Eshe travelled to Turkey to study with belly dance legends Sema Yildiz and Princess Banu, why the word “Roman” needs to replace the G* word, and why Fifi Abdou’s new performances on Instagram may be even better than her iconic dance performances.

Eshe is the director & owner of Mahasti – The Bellydance Emporium up in Ontario Canada. Eshe has been belly dancing since 2002.  She’s trained extensively in Canada, Japan, Egypt, and Turkey.  And she’s performed in  America, Japan, Turkey, South Korea, Australia, Malaysia and Indonesia. Some of my favorite places too.  



Alicia: Dance legend Sema Yildiz gave Eshe the name “Yildiz” or  “Star” in Turkish after she performed at the famed Gar Casino in Istanbul. Eshe, tell us about that. 

Studying Belly Dance in Turkey with Famous Belly Dancers

Studying with the belly dance legend Sema Yildiz

Sema is connected to almost every famous belly dancer in Turkey

Dancing at the Gar Casino in Turkey

Sema Yildiz invited me to dance at the famous Gar Casino in Istanbul. She gave me her last name, which means “star”.

Learning Turkish Roman Dance with Rehan Tuzsuz 

It is embarrassing, but it took me 4 hours of private lessons to just get the basic footwork

Studying Belly Dance with Princess Banu


Studying Belly Dance with Zinnur Karaca, the niece of Tulay Karaca

Danceable Ritual

When I was last dancing with Jillina (in her Wizard of Oz show) during the cool down she encouraged us to breathe in all the love and gratitude.  Breathe out all your fears and doubts.  Breathe in all the things you want and desire.  Breathe out all the things that aren’t serving you.  It’s also a beautiful way to unite your cast or class before beginning to move.  

“Breathe in all the love and gratitude. 

Breathe out all your fears and doubts. 

Breathe in all the things you want and desire. 

Breathe out all the things that aren’t serving you.” – Jillina Carlano of Belly Dance Evolution

I think dance can be stripped away to just movement. Breathing is movement. Breathing is dancing.

















Even swaying back and forth while sitting and listening is dancing.

Even just opening my shampoo on the day of my show has a bit of ceremony.

Being Part of Jillina’s Belly Dance Experience

Being in Jillina’s Belly Dance Experience changed my life. I don’t know if Jillina is human. She cooked for us. She lifts everyone up.

How to Stay Creative Even During Covid

Alicia: I was totally intrigued when I was invited to be part of the I am a Dancer Challenge private group you created on Facebook and Instagram. It just got me thinking differently, and I loved it. For example, the instructions for day 1 were: “LOOK DOWN. Make a whole piece that reflects the ground you walk on – the texture, the lines, the grandness, the temperature, the comfort, etc. Are you in a temple? In quicksand? In your kitchen? Maybe dance the whole thing on the ground. Or maybe dance the whole thing looking down – did you sleep the wrong way, are you injured, do you have a compulsion or fear that forces you to always watch where you step? Do you see something interesting there? A snake? A portal to another dimension?” Wow. What motivated you to create this challenge?


“EVERYONE is creative. You were born creative.”

Go hunting for joy. Make something ridiculous. Break the rules. Free me from some of the pressure to be marketable.

When we do things that just make us happy it clears up even more space to be creative.

Create a community where we are championing each others’ curiosity

You can’t have creativity unless you are vulnerable



Make bad art and share it. Upload it. Break the rules. I found that people connected most with the pieces that I was most scared to share.

What if I made the worse dance ever and put it on the internet? What is the worst thing that could happen?

Dance badly. It is really liberating, and you will find nuggets in there.

We are dancing to express, not impress.

There’s art in the everyday. I’m most interested in seeing people just being themselves.

Fifi Abdou Before and Fifi Abdou Now: Always Amazing

She just seems so delighted with her own existence. She carries me away to a fantasy land where she is my queen.


We need to cherish the legends in our dance.

The best thing you can give your haters is indifference.









She is just unbothered, carrying on, being amazing. She adds so much joy to the world.

Improv vs. Choreography

















Zoe Jakes may have said this? Improv should look like choreography and choreography should look like improv.

The heart of Egyptian dance is improvisation.

Improv was not what I thought it was. I prepare for it now.

Know your craft. Know your music. Know the capacity of your costume. And live in the Moment. Be there.

I look back and think, maybe I should have listen to my music a few more times before subjecting my audience to my whimsy…

Damn Sexy Dance Move: Turkish Finger Snap


Touring as a Belly Dancer in Korea

Alicia: You were the belly dancer for a Korean folk/world music band (Orgeltanz), and you were featured in the Korean editions of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, and appeared on several TV and radio programs. You ran your own belly dance studio in Seoul as well as a concert series with some of the biggest names in Korea’s indie scene. What were some of the differences in being a professional belly dancer in Korea and your work in Canada? 

Modern Electronic Turkish Roman Songs by DJ Yilmaz

Alicia: When I saw you perform years ago in Syracuse, I remember finding you back stage afterwards to tell you how much I loved your performance as well as the music you danced to. It was a modern Turkish Roma piece. Do you remember the name? 

I danced to a DJ Yilmaz song.  He’s a prolific artist who releases a lot of dance tracks that feature the agir (heavy) Roman rhythm.  Here are a couple Turkish Roman playlists.



Alicia: In 2016, you opened Mahasti Belly Dance Emporium and formed your award winning troupe Raqs Mahasti. What have your greatest challenges been since Covid hit? 

Going online! And teaching others to go online.

Featured Vegan Whole Food: Frozen edamame and frozen blueberries

















I’m a pretty one ingredient chef.  My current favorite snack is edamame – just boil and serve.  For dessert in summer I love frozen blueberries. 


Costume Tip: Check your costume and props 3 days before your show

Safety pins are for emergencies only.  I would also suggest checking the integrity of your costume and props 3 days beforehand.  

Contributing chaos to the backstage area is not what you want to be known for.

We can ask: What am I satisfying by repeating these patterns that stress me out every time?

Eshe’s Glitter at The Casbah Show

This monthly showcase has been going on since 2007, bringing artists together.

Feel Good Look Good Habit: Drink a glass of water before putting on makeup

Before I put on my makeup I drink a glass of water! It’s easy and accessible for most of us.  I always feel better, more centered and focused afterwards.