Photo by Ahmet Ferah
I Am Korhan, This is My Dance!

Ailey Citigroup Theater, New York City
Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Review by Theresa Conlon

Will the real Korhan Basaran please stand up? That catchphrase came to mind at the opening scene of I Am Korhan, This is My Dance!

And it was this playful, identification-guessing game that first drew the audience into this evening-length modern dance work by Turkish dancer/choreographer Korhan Basaran. Each dancer made his or her way on stage, claiming to be Korhan and insisting on ownership of the dance.

“It’s my dance! I am Korhan!” proclaimed each performer, and a battle of wills ensued. Each dancer was set on convincing the audience, through embattled movements and a vying-for-position stance, that the evening’s dance was actually a creation of their very own.

Perhaps it was a shared identity of sorts, since thus began a series of intimate, yet technically strong solos—portraits—all applying similar movements, yet individualized enough to begin to shed light on the actual character of Karhan, the very nature of the man, who had yet to appear.

The solos, rich with a classical vocabulary, and long-legged extensions, were ingeniously placed in time, since they literally set the stage for Korhan’s entrance. The audience was primed and ready to learn more about Korhan. We wanted to see his dance!

Enter the real deal, the real Korhan—“I am Korhan”—with a larger-than-life physique that stands well over six feet tall, and with a dramatic ivory skin tone that draws one’s eye with delight. This is a man to look at, and his quirky, idiosyncratic, and strong movement tells the tale of a young man who has definitely been knocked about, but not knocked down. This is a picture of a young immigrant, who has come from a foreign land to make his way in a new world—an urban, competitive, contemporary, and artistic world.

The evening’s piece was comprised of three segments: “On Love,” “On Land,” and “On Life,” and Korhan presented random impressions of each. “On Love” consists of two duets. “On Land” is set to traditional Turkish music. The tempo of daily life in New York provides the inspiration for “On Life.”

The impressions left by each segment were quite fleeting and not necessarily as integrated as this viewer would have liked. The subject was all encompassing and could not be adequately addressed in a one-night show.

The final segment, “On Life,” and in particular, life in New York City, was the most fun of the evening, and where the dancing truly transformed, moving from technical feats, to gutsy, impassioned performing. Bravo to all the amazingly talented dancers in Korhan’s work! Jenna Otter is exceptional.

Korhan, seen jogging in an “I Love New York” tee shirt, was quite engaging, and the NYC audience could definitely relate. The jogging (done head-on to the audience) could have gone on forever. It was mesmerizing and demonstrated the pace of New York, one of the world’s largest and most demanding cities. Korhan left us on an upbeat note, ending with a smile. He does love New York.

This company—Korhan Basaran and Dancers—has a youthful vigor that is ready and willing to jump in and take both technical and artistic risks.