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Turkish dancers set to dazzle at Queens College

TimesLedger Newspapers

As part of its “Year of Turkey” celebrations, Queens College will present INFLUX, a program of contemporary Turkish dance. The performance will be held at the Goldstein Theatre on Saturday at 8 p.m. Admission is free.

The TimesLedger had a chance to interview several of the participants in the program, including Gurur Ertem, artistic director and co-founder of programming and research of the Istanbul International Contemporary Dance and Performance Festival, or iDANS. Ertem was expected to give a lecture on contemporary dance in Istanbul at Queens College this week.

Ertem and her partner, Aydin Silier, founded iDANS in 2006. “Our major motivation was the fact that there was no cutting edge international contemporary dance festival in Turkey so we launched one that is rich not only in terms of the artistic program but also one that raises the profile of performing arts by conferences, seminars, workshops and numerous publications,” she said via e-mail. The first and only international festival of its kind, iDANS showcases both live and visual arts in Turkey. The festival takes place once a year and is organized by the Bimeras Cultural Foundation.

Three Turkish dancer/choreographers — Mustafa Kaplan, Filiz Sizlani and Ayse Orhon — will participate in the INFLUX program and will remain in temporary residence to teach master classes at the college. Mustafa Kaplan and Filiz Sizlani will perform Sek Sek, or “hopscotch.” As Sizlani explained, it’s an exploration of “in-between spaces, in-between movements,” using bodies. “How can I measure the space with the other body, how I can use the other body as a surface?”

Sizlani has been dancing since 1997 and met Kaplan at the Istanbul Municipal Theatre in the same year, while the latter was teaching theater classes. Sek Sek, created in 2002, was their first collaboration.

Kaplan began taking dancing classes from Geyan McMillan in Istanbul, while he was studying electronic engineering. He never did become an engineer, but danced with the Modern Ballet company from 1989-1992 and then at the City Theater of Istanbul.

Orhon will perform her work Çok, which asks the question, “How many bodies can a body embody?”

“I was looking for ways to integrate senses, experience something else (other) than this body and mind division,” Orhon wrote in her e-mail. The word Çok is a sort of abbreviation of something multiple and longterm. “It came from a need to take responsibility of another esthetic very different than my own; it was to challenge myself, one’s self to become the other, to become many others,” Orhon said.

After the performance on Saturday, Ertem will moderate a Q&A session.

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