Tuesday June 21, 2011 - Turkish dancer and choreographer Korhan Basaran (above) presented the premiere of his "I Am Korhan, This is My Dance," an evening-length work in three segments. Kokyat - who visited Turkey a few years ago and loved it there - and I decided to give it a whirl, especially when we noted that a dancer we really like, Kei Tsuruharatani (of TAKE Dance) was going to be dancing.
For me the evening was a mixture of exciting movement - very well-danced - and moments of forced humour that detracted from the overall positive impression. There's a line between wit and cuteness that I prefer not to cross.
The piece started with the dancers ambling onstage one by one, each pretending to be Mr. Basaran. Once the actual dancing (to baroque music) started, things were fine: each dancer is introduced in a solo and they all looked super though I must say Kei stood out among them. Then the real Korhan Basaran actually appeared; his solo set to Bach showed off his long, lean frame with unusually fluid movement, spiked with sharp accents. Somewhat off-putting was a tendency for the dancers to shreik from time to time, and Mr. Basaran seemed to be humming along with Bach, which was pointless.
Kokyat had hoped to see some authentic Turkish folk dancing and the second movement gave us a taste of that as the six dancers paired off in duets followed by another solo for Korhan. All went well.
An unnecessary intermission pushed the evening off its taut trajectory. When the lights finally dimmed, Korhan appeared among the audience talking loudly, asking people if they liked the show so far. The dancers onstage called to him, reminding him the piece was about to resume. Silly.
The final section, to music of Philip Glass and set in a New York City streetscape, again showed lots of powerful movement and the individual characteristics of the dancers given free rein. A fine stopping point was reached; but instead of a fade-out, a woman appeared with a tray of styrofoam cups and all the dancers took a drink. Then back to another round of dancing. The choreography began to wear a bit thin after a while although the dancers looked good. The piece ended with Korhan alone onstage giving a quizzical shrug.
The large and enthusiastic audience responded favorably to the work; my thought was that with a bit of tightening, toning down or (preferably) losing the cutesy bits and steering onward without an intermission, this could have been a far more effective evening.
Dancers: Alexander Dones, Nikki Holck, Jenna Otter, Chad Van Ramshorst, Lindsay Richter, Kei Tsuruharantani, Korhan Basaran