Aan het woord

Işıl Bıçakçı

Işıl is a dancer and a choreographer. She describes her artistic journey using the 2G-formula: guts & goesting. She loves guiding people towards their very own authentic way of moving, fascinated by the endless possibilities of our moving bodies and our innate ability to express ourselves through movement.

Fotocredits: Aksu Günay - Rudy Carlier - Danshuis De Ingang - Stephanie Roels

Do you remember the very first time you knew you wanted to be a dancer?

I have a very strong memory of my first time in a dance studio. I was so young that I don’t even remember what it looked like, just the feeling of fascination I had when I entered the empty space. It felt like I could be whoever I wanted to be and do whatever I chose to do in there, without any directions or limitations. My actual dance training didn’t start until many years later, although as a teenager I was very inspired by the Turkish poet Orhan Veli. His work gave me that same sense of freedom and made me realize what contemporary art is: you don’t need to follow all kinds of rules to express yourself verbally or physically.

When did you realize you wanted to become a professional dancer?

After graduating in computer sciences it became very clear to me: no way I am doing this for the rest of my life. I’m better with people than with machines (laughs). I decided to follow my goesting and auditioned for a dance company, which took a lot of guts because I had no dance background whatsoever. I was selected anyway, which was the start of my dance training at age 21. During my last year, Ann Van den Broek came to Istanbul and invited me to work with her, which was a wonderful opportunity. After my internship with Ann, I went back to Turkey to graduate at the Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University and was able to start working at the Istanbul State Opera & Ballet. For me, that was the ultimate confirmation that I choose the right path.

Was your dance training what you thought it would be?

Learning about anatomy was a real game-changer during my training. Knowing how the body works, opens up all kinds of possibilities. It’s not just the mind that steers the body, it also works the other way around and both are incredibly connected. Every time I was in anatomy class, my mind was blown a little bit more. Analytical movement research may not be the most “dancy” part of it all, but it plays a major role in discovering new ways your body can move and to physically express yourself. It’s like traveling inside of your body and eventually leads to a dance that is more authentic.

Do you create from your mind or your body?

It depends. As a dancer, both a physical state and a thought or idea can stimulate me to move. But as a choreographer, I would say: no inspiration, no movement. Making a choreography starts in my mind and not with pure physicality. I need a topic – which can also be a single image - for my body to translate inspiration into movement.

You really don’t have to be a dancer to dance. It is coded in our DNA to express ourselves with our body and there is not a single rule to it.

You were the first one to teach whirling dervishes at WISPER. Can you tell us about it?

Everything in the universe has a circular movement, from planets to atoms. Whirling as such is a movement in perfect harmony with nature. Like al meditations, the whirling dervishes ritual is based on repetition. The circular movement is repeated over and over again, until you arrive in a state where you can disconnect from the outside world. Because of the whirling, you can’t see the world around you anymore and your brain gets a break from constantly collecting data from outside. And when there is nothing to see outside, you can start looking inwards. That’s the aim: to isolate yourself to yourself.

Whirling was discovered by the Sufi master and philosopher Rumi. He has this quote that became my life motto: “either seem as you are or be as you seem.” To me, this phrase is the essence of authenticity and authenticity is the essence of dance.

What makes a dance class successful for you?

When I see people leaving their judgments and expectations behind. Expressing yourself with your body is a super vulnerable thing to do – not in the least because of the aesthetics we all grow up with, telling us how bodies have to look like. It makes us judge how bodies move and in the end, we stop moving altogether because we are so afraid that it might look bad. While there is no wrong move. I try to guide people to that point where they can leave those misplaced judgments and expectations behind and move in their own authentic way. You really don’t have to be a dancer to dance. As children, we were dancing before we were talking. It is coded in our DNA to express ourselves with our body and there is not a single rule to it, we just need to rediscover this ability.

If you could pick any dancer or choreographer to work with, who would it be?

Damien Jalet. As a dancer and a perfomer I really love to seek out my limits and the physical challenges in his pieces appeal to me. But what draws me even more towards his work, is the fact that he creates those strong symbioses with groups of dancers that I would love to be a part of.

Do you have a tip for our Wisperlings? What dance performance should they definitely go see if they have the chance?

The work of Ann Van den Broek. Each and every one of her pieces does something to you when you watch it. They have all the layers that make you live a story, that make you feel and think. The performances are full of emotions, troubles and issues and at the same time very structured and layered. It’s not that they talk to you, they touch you in ways words can’t express. That is the defining quality of a good dance piece for me.

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Datum bericht do 27 oktober '22