Can you please tell us a little bit about yourself in relation with dance?
I was interested in dance since I was seven years old. I started with traditional folklore dance, and also did other styles like tango and salsa. Later on, I also did some hip hop and break dance. I danced as a hobby for a certain time, and then I entered a modern dance program at university and joined the modern dance department because to me the style and teaching structure were more flexible than other styles, like ballet and folklore. From that moment, I realized that the only way I would be happy in life was to dance not only as a hobby but also as a way of living my life. So I began to pursue my dream of dancing.
Did you face any challenges when pursuing your dream? From your family or the people around you?
My family was very supportive. Their only concern was how I could make enough money to support my own life. After I graduated, I started working in a government institution focused on Ballet and Opera. They did not pay enough. For example, my rent at that time was the same as the salary that I earned. So my family tried to come up with alternatives to support my life. They have always been very supportive.
Amazing. So how did you learn about the Aakash Odedra Company and what was your motivation to join #JeSuis?
A few years ago, Aakash was in Turkey and gave a 1-day workshop in Istanbul at my university. I attended the workshop, and I think Aakash saw some light in my dance, so he contacted the school after the workshop asking about me. Then, I was put in contact with Aakash. After my graduation and after Aakash finished with the projects he had in his hands, we started to work together in January 2016.
That’s interesting! Then, what do you think is the main difference between you and other dancers? What makes you unique?
Actually, there are many other dancers in England who may be closer to Aakash, but I I think that what Aakash saw in the five people (at the beginning of #JeSuis production) was the energy in all of us. Also, I might fit into a character in the repertoire, but I guess it was mostly the energy.
Yeah, wow. So now what does the character you play in the project #JeSuis relate to you? Can you also explain a bit about the piece?
So #JeSuis is about the dictators in history and how governments change… it’s not only focused on censorship but rather conflict, history and things happening in the world right now. It’s not specifically about Turkey, but we experience similar things in Turkey as well. However, everyone can find something from their own country or their own life that relates to the piece, because the idea is about questioning and reacting to not only political events but also the way people perceive things. For example, questioning situations in which religious leaders tell us to do unrealistic things. My character is someone who doesn’t take things seriously, like laughs about them and continues to live his life until he realized that he had to take things seriously… so now he doesn’t know how to react, he is confused as a character. What did you ask exactly?
Has #JeSuis made you question something that you previously believed in? Did it change any perspective you had before?
During my university education, I was exposed to a very free environment… I was free! After I graduated, I started working for a government institution and I no longer felt free doing that. The institution was still very flexible and we were free within our own circle, but we were not as free as we were at university. So with the #JeSuis project, I started to feel free again… just like when I was at university. I feel more comfortable both personally and professionally. For instance, I am doing more freelance work now, so I feel more productive and free in my profession.
What kind of freelance work have you done lately?
I have been doing freelance work for different projects in Turkey, but I am also getting work from all over the world. For example, after this residency with Aakash Odedra at the NYUAD Arts Center, I’ll be going to the United States for a project there. Actually, I am also working with other professions besides dance. For example, I have been doing works for short films, musicians and other things…
And, by doing these professions, what’s your end goal? What’s your dream, your biggest hope you want to achieve in the end?
This is what I dream… I am happy with what I am doing! And I hope to share my work with other people!
We hope that this interview will also be a way for you to share your work with others! Do you have any questions or advice for us?
I recommend that you continue doing some dance. If you are interested in the arts, continue doing it on the side, because it’s gonna help you in ways you don’t expect, it’s gonna contribute to your way of seeing things. Even though you don’t realize now, after ten years from now, you’ll understand the contribution of the arts to your life.
Disclaimer: This interview was conducted with the help of a translator, Mrs. Johnson. The questions were asked in English, and translated to Turkish for Yasin Anar. The answers were translated from Turkish into English for the interviewers, Rodrigo and Hoya. Due to the nature of this interview, there may be slight misinterpretations or miswordings in the summary.