harS

10, 13, 14, 15/05 > 20:30
11/05 > 18:00
50 min

Choreography for a female dancer and a harp.

A pioneer of contemporary dance in Turkey who has worked in Istanbul for over twenty-five years, Aydin Teker likes putting bodies into destabilising situations, testing their capacity for dynamic adaptation to the extreme. In harS, a harp is offered as an extension of the human body. Wherever the manipulations take it, the instrument's functional identity is concealed in favour of a pure and sculptural quality. Put to the test, the dancer (and harpist) Ayşe Orhon displays virtuoso physical force and control to conquer this strange "territory". In a process of continuous transformation, the two entities seek to enter into symbiosis, with their respective characteristics cross-contaminating to create a beautifully haunting hybrid image.

Direction
Aydin Teker

Choreography
Aydin Teker, Ayse Orhon

Performance
Ayse Orhon

Musical advice
Evrim Demirel

Costume design
Ayşegül Alev

Light design
Thomas Walgrave

Presentation
Les Brigittines, Kunstenfestivaldesarts

Production
Bimeras | iDans (Istanbul)

Coproduction
Festival Alkantara (Lisbon), Biennale Bonn, Baltoscandal Festival (Rakvere), Productiehuis Rotterdamse (Rotterdamse Schouwburg), Festival Culturescapes (Basel), Kunstenfestivaldesarts

Project co-produced by NXTSTP, with the support of the European Union

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An unusual relation with a harp…

An interview on harS with the choreographer Aydin Teker and the dancer/musician Ayşe Orhon

Aylin Kalem

In your previous work, aKabi, the choreography was built around the relationship between a body and shoes of unusual heights. Here, you explore the relationship between a body and a harp, which is a towering instrument. What is the drive behind establishing particular relationships with objects in your choreographic creation?

Aydin Teker: I guess it is an inclination I have from the composition courses I do with my students. I ask them to explore the idea of a relationship to an object. I know that I certainly do not start a project with the idea of creating a relationship with an object, nevertheless, it is there. On the other hand, I do not consider the harp as an object, but rather as a character, and a very strong one at that. I feel that Ayşe is dancing a duet, not a solo. They both engage in a relationship with each other.

When I first started to work with the harp, I had serious problems with the beauty of the instrument. Everything I did turned out to be too beautiful, because the harp had a very strong aesthetic character. Its beauty disturbed me. I believe that every work requires a certain amount of time to reveal itself and to guide us. I believe that one has to wait for that moment to happen. I don’t understand the idea of creating in a rush, because I like to focus on the research, the time I spend with Ayşe at the studio, the process of exploration, accompanying each other towards a discovery. Otherwise, the creation becomes a product-oriented work; there has to be something that will keep the work alive.

What is your creative methodology?

Aydin Teker: I don’t do much physically; I watch Ayşe and talk a lot. Somebody once asked me if I imagine something before I start creating. The answer is no, I definitely do not reflect on or imagine how the work will be. I am only curious and look for what will come out of the process. In this piece, I didn’t have any idea at the beginning. I didn’t know how I would overcome the beauty of the instrument.

How did you decide to work with a harp?

Aydin Teker: I had already created a piece with a counter bass in England. I knew that Ayşe had a harp background and that she had not touched the instrument for a very long time. In a conversation we had, the idea of doing something with a harp came out. It was an important moment. Then I went to Paris and bought this huge instrument without thinking any further about the project. This is also what I did with the shoes for aKabi. I immediately looked for the shoes as soon as I had the idea. I didn’t spend time thinking about “what-ifs”. When we received the harp, we didn’t have the working conditions that we now enjoy. We were looking for studios. It was a very difficult task to carry the harp wherever we went. Once, we were walking in the narrow streets of Istiklal, and Ayşe was carrying the harp. We ran into a young friend of hers and he offered to help. When he realised how heavy the instrument was, he literally ran away. The conditions were difficult for us. We finally found a studio to work in, but the temperature was too high for the harp and the strings kept pulling apart. My motivation to continue came from my curiosity about our evolving relationship with the instrument. The instrument also led us to discover each other’s limits. The process is overwhelming. We have been working on this project for a little under two years now.

In the beginning, I thought Ayşe should also play the instrument, as she is a musician as well as a dancer. However, I realised that I could not impose “there should be this and there should be that” on the piece. It is the piece itself that decides what is necessary. This is what I have come to understand over the years. I also know that if I do not include a problem or an obstacle, the piece does not go anywhere.

Usually this problem or obstacle is a physical one in your works. You don't focus on problems in society, or on political messages.

If I had a message to give, then I would say it – I wouldn’t make a piece out of it. What I am really looking for is to go beyond aesthetic and physical limitations. We already know what we have, and what is considered beautiful. I am looking for the things beyond that.

The relationship you establish with an object, both in aKabi and in harS, is something that transforms the body. The object becomes an extension of the body. In this sense, your approach is quite technological.

Yes, that’s true. Although I do not start with that idea, I somehow come to it. For a body to adapt itself to new extensions, it has to develop a certain technique. The body has to be powerful, the nervous system has to perceive the new condition, and the person has to accept the new state.

What kind of an experience did you have in relation to the harp, not as a musician in a conventional way, but as a dancer/musician? How did this change your perception?

Ayşe Orhon: I started music education at a very young age, but I had never considered myself a musician; I told Aydın Teker at the beginning of the project that I was not a musician. However, I have since changed my mind. I had to remember and develop what I had learned as a musician during the project. I believe that music and dance resemble each other in the sense that they both engage body and mind and that they follow a similar path towards expression, one in the form of sound and the other in the form of movement. In this project, the two streams coexist. At first, I was very kind towards the harp, I was afraid that it might fall and crack. Then, as I got to know its dimensions and weight better, I started to better understand its language. As I was less afraid, I discovered its potentials. But it took a long time to get there. To be side by side and face to face with this instrument that I played sitting on a chair for years, aroused in me a curiosity for establishing different forms of relation with it. I had many questions, like, could I lift it, what would happen if I turned it upside down, or could I fit in it? Each curiosity led me to new ideas and new problems. Aydin Teker’s patience and care is very important for me. I am rather impatient, I want to realise my wish or her suggestions spontaneously, but this is not the way it should be. One has to work on it very carefully and systematically.


What was it physically like developing your virtuosity in handling this heavy and massive instrument?

Ayşe Orhon: We are like two rivals on stage. Rather than someone mastering the movements that I am required to execute, I am like someone who tries to exist in this rivalry. Maybe, it is this sort of competition that reveals all of these ”virtuosic” materials.


What was your role as a dancer, in the process of creation?

Ayşe Orhon: I occupied an opposing position. I had a choreography background rather than a dance education. The first project I worked on with Aydın Teker was called Density, and I was supposed to learn the part danced by Kelly Knox. It was an interesting experience for me, as I was not used to learning an already set part. But this kind of creation process is more difficult. The choreographic signature belongs to Aydın Teker, but at the same time, I am not someone who does everything that is told to me; rather, I am doing things that are unsaid. I cannot stop myself from expressing my thoughts and desires. But there were three of us present rehearsals. Aydın Teker made a step, then I developed it, and then the harp made another step towards the creation.

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Aydin Teker

Turkish choreographer and dance instructor. She graduated from Ankara State Conservatory in 1973 and joined Ankara State Opera and Ballet as a dancer. In 1976, she got a scholarship and first went to London and then to the USA. She received her B.F.A. and M.F.A. from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. In 1982 she came back to Turkey and started working as modern dance instructor and choreographer at Mimar Sinan University, where she received her Diploma of Adequacy (equivalent of doctorate degree) in 1993 and the title of professor in 2001. In 1993, she received a Fulbright research scholarship and went to New York again for a year to explore new developments on somatic theories. Her choreographies and site-specific works have been shown in many countries. Among these, "Density" got a special award at the 22th Zurich Theaterspektakel, and her latest creation, "aKabi", has been acclaimed in many renowned festivals. Aydin Teker is currently a faculty member of the Modern Dance Department of Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University, Istanbul.

Ayse Orhon
She was professionally involved in music (harp) and sports (synchronized swimming). She continued her education on dance and graduated from DansAkademie/EDDC (Arnhem-Duesseldorf) in June 2001. Since 1996 she was engaged in diverse projects, her own choreographies and video installations. Guest teacher for contemporary dance classes at three different universities in Istanbul and in CNDC Angers(France), she started working with Aydın Teker in 2002 and also worked with French choreographer Emmanuelle Huynh in France. Ayse Orhon is among the founders of "CATI Contemporary Dance Artists Association"(2004) and recently "AMBER - Association for Process-based Arts".

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