By Deborah Searle.
Born in Bursa, Turkey, dancer Korhan Basaran now calls New York home – a city that inspires him to teach and create dance. In June Korhan and company presented two world premieres at the Ailey Citigroup Theater in a show boldly titled “I am Korhan, this is my dance”. So who is Korhan, and what is his dance?
What is your dance background?
I was an actor. I started to dance to help my acting in my college years. I started with some modern and ballet. I was then directed into dance more seriously by many inspiring dance artists, such as Binnaz Dorkip of the Ankara State Ballet Company. I had a couple years there, then when I first arrived in New York I received a scholarship from the Cunningham Studio and had the honor of meeting Merce and working with Mr. Robert Swinston. Cunningham Technique helped me to clarify and bring all the information I’d received over the years into a more personal place. I started realizing the knowledge within me so now all the classes I teach are almost like a research laboratory for creating new movement, testing new experiments and playing with the energy.
Why do you dance?
Less is more – all the complexity can be defined with simplicity. It is a privilege to be able to express yourself without having to choose the correct words; to express with just whatever your body says. Movement is honest, simple and less, which helps you explain more, express more and understand more. I’m so much enjoying the universal language of movement and dance, and being able to be understood by all the people of the world without worrying about the words.
Why do you choreograph?
There’s not really an explanation to that. I have an issue with the world, life, existence and with where the world is at. I believe that the only way to turn the world into a better place is through art. I simply know that my choreography will make the world a better place amongst all the other artists’ works. The people who I have the chance to share my work with become better beings and I become a better being because I receive their response. What is shared between us in a performance is so alive, so real and so honest.
Tell us about your world premiere – I am Korhan, this is my dance.
The performance had 3 themes – On Love, On Land and On Life. On Love featured six love driven solos to Jean Marie Leclair for each dancer. I performed a solo to Johann Sebastian Bach. For On Land I chose some traditional Turkish music that has almost ritualistic importance. I made one sextet for the dancers and a solo to an elegy.
Then the second part of the evening was On Life, a composition created on a Philip Glass violin concerto. This piece was inspired by the life in New York. I wanted to look at something so simple and connected to life such as running – as in NY you just keep on running every day, all day. This was a theme of the piece and how it connects into more complex and designed movements. You keep running – you fall down, stand up, go on and fall again, yet you keep on going.
The beautiful dancers were Alexander Dones, Nikki Hock, Lindsay Richter, Jenna Otter, Kei Tsuruharatani and Chad Van Ramshorst. We had a very nice installation-set piece designed by Sila Karakaya for the On Life, NY piece, our lighting designer was Joyce Liao and our stage manager was Gwyndolyn Kay.
How long was the creative process?
I started working on some phrases, sentences and material at the end of April and we attended some performances together. I was working with the whole cast from the 25th of May. So we had a short period of time to create the whole evening long work. I’m so glad that we’ve managed to develop a nice language of movement in such a short time.
How did the audience receive the work?
I think they weren’t really sure how to react or what to expect, as this was my first official show in a big theater like Ailey for the New York audience. But as they started to know who we were as human beings and then dancers, I felt like they started to be more open and welcoming, especially in the second half. By the end of the second act, danced to the Philip Glass violin concerto, I felt energy flow from the audience towards us. We were accepted. The dancers and I have received amazing feedback, e-mails and messages from the audience and from some big names in the New York dance scene.
What are your future plans for the work?
That’s a very long road that one has to walk. Every minute you are subject to change, evolve, and feed yourself with what you experience in life. I still have a lot to do to find out my inner voice. I’m taking brave steps and trying not to lose my courage and my honesty. I’ve just got to go on making more works, share with people and allow the dance to find its way through my body, mind and soul.
Are you working on any other dance related projects?
All through the Summer I’ll be teaching at Steps, DNA and Peridance across New York. I will be choreographing for the Intensive Course at the Peridance Summer Program. I’m also starting a laboratory work on a weekly basis (on Saturdays), where I invite artists from other disciplines to join with my dancers, and dancers interested, to keep the connection, research and exploration developing. It is a two hour open jam installation of music, movement, theater, visual arts and other contributions. I am very excited about it.
Photo: Ali Sarikaya