Dark nights: Turkey imposes Islamic dress code on State Opera and Ballet

Dark nights: Turkey imposes Islamic dress code on State Opera and Ballet


norman lebrecht

October 01, 2014

From darkening Istanbul:

The new General Manager of the Turkish State Opera and Ballet, Selman Ada, has issued shocking new rules for the corps de ballet – ‘a set of rules applicable to all personnel.’

Here’s the code: ‘Athletic wear, sleeveless cotton, shorts, tights, stretch jeans, sandals, slippers, spike-heeled shoes, evening dresses and so on, shall not be worn on the premises.’

This is one of many blows in the Islamic ruling party (AKP)’s clampdown on western performing arts. Here’s the article in Turkish (the headline reads: “Tights for ballet dancers forbidden!”).

Wave goodbye to Turkey as it heads back to the Dark Ages.

ballet turkey

UPDATE: We are told by native Turkish speakers that the new dress code may apply only to staff at the opera and ballet, not to artists on stage. If that were the case, it would amount to an obvious double standard. It would also amount to an unwarranted interference in the civil rights and freedoms of employees of the state opera and ballet.



  • What’s wrong with some modesty? I see nothing wrong here.

  • Burkas for ballerinas!

  • Theodore McGuiver says:

    They voted for him, they’ve got him…

    • Neil McGowan says:

      I’m not sure that Mr Ada came to his position by way of any kind of voting system. He is a composer and conductor, and rather well respected. I think he was put into the job by the government – which is a slightly different matter. There are no end of photos of him on the internet where he’s conducting orchestral players and soloists in concert dresses, ballgowns and high heels. He doesn’t strike me as a backward-looking kind.

      I fear these idiotic measures have come down from Ankara directly.

  • Anonymus says:

    No “evening dresses”? Lost in translation???

  • M2N2K says:

    Looks like nudity is strongly encouraged.

  • Peter says:

    Since we recently had the first Turkish orchestra at the Proms, perhaps Slipped Disc might seek comment from their manager Ahmet Erenli, or from their conductor Sascha Goetzel. It would add some journalistic interest and comment to the story.