Q&A: Korhan Basaran talks about collaborating with David Dorfman

Turkish choreographer Korhan Basaran talks about making a dance with David Dorfman as part of DanceMotion USA


You are working on a project called Fearless, which refers to the Gezi Park protests. How does the collaboration with David relate?
Fearless will be dedicated to some young people we lost in the Gezi events last year in Istanbul. One of the kids was killed, and his last name translated to “the one who does not fear.” I’m sort of dedicating Fearless to him. So this is what I have been working on. It’s what we are dealing with right now. And the project with David? The world needs to heal. We need to give off some healing energy with our work. This is about reconciliation, and it relates to the Armenian-Turkish conflict. We just need to open ourselves and accept whatever sadness has been experienced and be able to move forward—with love. [Laughs] I’m like, all you need is love.

How did you become involved with DanceMotion USA? Was it something you sought out?
No. I had had some years in New York, so when David was about to visit Turkey, BAM and the American consulate in Istanbul contacted me. I had so many friends in common with David. Once the word Turkish appears, everybody thinks of me, which is quite great. [Laughs]  

Had you ever worked with David before?
I had not. We met in Istanbul in February, but I didn’t know him before. I knew of him.

As part of the program, David was given the choice to collaborate with a company from one of the countries he visited—Turkey, Armenia or Tajikistan. He chose yours. Why?
I think it was just chemistry. It felt right. I didn’t know there was a possibility of a big residency exchange like this—a company being brought from Turkey. I guess it just felt right for both of us. We both go with instinct a lot. It’s about a feeling.

What has this choreographic process been like?
It’s interesting, and I haven’t experienced anything like it before. I might be very selfish at times! Also, obviously David has way more experience than I have. He’s been making work for so long. So it’s different. I’m feeling like a teenager. [Laughs] It’s like, “No, I want to do this!” But then he’s just so generous in allowing me to do anything that I want to try, and the dancers are really responsive and beautiful—they’re all such beautiful, strong performers.

Is there much text?
I’m really working on avoiding it. I think it makes it too easy. I’m quite interested in one idea David offered, so when it works within the concept, I do value it, but I don’t want it necessarily. Also we’re from different countries, and we all have different languages. There is the task that we have—the theme of reconciliation and with that word, we just have to step back and look at the world from up in the sky. This is not a historical remaking of the Turkish-Armenian War, but we’re stating something that is actually very alive in this moment. The whole world needs to reconcile. We don’t need to be stuck with just Armenia and Turkey. I just see human beings in front of me; I don’t see religion or race or whatever nation. I don’t care.

How will this collaboration affect your work?
I don’t know, but definitely I’m learning a lot. It’s also so hard to foresee. There have been so many things that I’ve been pushing for in my career. I manage to make them happen but then eventually I realize, Oh, it didn’t resonate as much as I expected it to. It means it wasn’t the right time for that to happen. I am just trying to teach myself to be in the moment and not to make plans. I don’t have power over things. Hopefully, we’re going to make a very beautiful work and bring out a pure, beautiful energy. Every moment is in the unknown right now. We have so much material, and we’ve been molding it for days and days. I also like to let a piece find its own content and its own way of being. It really does build itself.

David Dorfman Dance and Korhan Basaran Company perform at the BAM Fisher Aug 14–16.

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