A Turkish Choreographer Inspired by New York

Korhan Basaran and Dancers at the Ailey Citigroup Theater.Julieta Cervantes for The New York Times.
















The Turkish choreographer Korhan Basaran isn’t interested in beating around the bush: the title of his evening-length show last Tuesday night at the Ailey Citigroup Theater was “I am Korhan, this is my dance!” He began “On Life,” the final section, which was inspired by New York, chatting with audience members while wearing an “I ♥ NY” T-shirt.

There’s something charming about this, even (or especially) if it might cause a grizzled New Yorker to raise an eyebrow or two: Mr. Basaran ended that section alone onstage, dripping with sweat, his intense mien slowly softening into an earnest smile. You want to root for this immigrant artist, whose breathless program biography describes him as “based in the mighty New York”; “On Life,” with its buckling, collapsing phrases set to Philip Glass, pushes the dancers to drenched exhaustion in a clear emulation of chaotic, at times alienating, urban life. (The dancer Jenna Otter is particularly effective here.)

It is also too clearly in conceptual debt to Twyla Tharp’s tour de force ballet “In the Upper Room,” giving little idea of Mr. Basaran’s own choreographic voice. He favors a fairly routine and limited movement vocabulary, juxtaposing an emphasis on weight with bounding leaps and air-licking extensions.

Theatrical touches are in abundance: the dancers begin the concert by jostling with one another to tell the audience "I am Korhan, this is my dance" or some variation on it. Later they interrupt their often lyrical phrases with screams that unfortunately become humorous.

This is partly because there is little sense that the six performers, aside from Mr. Basaran, are fully inhabiting the emotional deliveries he asks of them; gestures that are meant to seem tortured instead come off as tics. It is not until he takes the stage that moodier and more introspective edges begin to shine through the dance, fraying its more conventional edges. There’s something appealingly world-weary about his delivery; perhaps the man’s a New Yorker after all.

Source: New York Times, By CLAUDIA LA ROCCO
Last modified onSaturday, 06 May 2017 10:07