WATCH: Brighton-based choreographer Ceyda Tanc draws on her Turkish heritage

Brighton-based choreographer Ceyda Tanc draws on her Turkish heritage once again for her latest piece for the Brighton Festival.
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Kizlar will be in the Theatre Royal Brighton on May 16 at 7.30pm, drawing on the virtuoso movements of male Turkish dancers but using an all-female company to do so.

“I started researching this piece before Covid,” Ceyda says. “I always use traditional Turkish folk dance and being half Turkish I really wanted to explore that. What I wanted to do was to explore the stereotypical masculine folk dances that we have in Turkey but to use the female body. In a lot of folk dances there are very clear gender roles that are very often very stereotypical with, say, the women doing really pretty and dainty and feminine movements but with the men in Turkish folk dance doing these huge jumps and leaps. And I just started questioning why are these great movements always showcased by the men. Could we not showcase the women doing these movements? I just thought why not. I took these influences from Turkish male movements and I put them in the female body for this show.”

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The company return to the Theatre Royal this year following their phenomenal performance of KAYA at Brighton Festival in 2018.

KIZLAR - Ceyda Tanc Dance. Credit Roarke PearceKIZLAR - Ceyda Tanc Dance. Credit Roarke Pearce
KIZLAR - Ceyda Tanc Dance. Credit Roarke Pearce

“I grew up in Brighton and the Theatre Royal was always so much a part of my upbringing going there so many times and it was just a fantastic opportunity to take my work into this place that I knew so well. And now we're back five years later. Obviously we had to stop in between (with Covid and the lockdowns). It doesn't seem five years but a lot has happened since then and obviously a lot has not happened too!

“The lockdowns were really difficult but we were as resourceful as we could be. We moved a lot of our activities online. All our touring dates got cancelled and everything was on hold but we just had to figure out new ways of working. We kept a lot of our youth and education work going. We have a studio in Brighton and we didn't want our students to suffer so we did a lot of online talks and activities and as soon as we were allowed to we got out into a field and started working together again.

“It is great to be back now. It has given us all a bit more drive and determination going forward. It has made us appreciate even more how important it is to be face to face with each other in the studio. When you're working with a company the most important thing is that connection with the dancers in the same room. I do think the pandemic has taught us a lot, and even now there is a little part of me when I start thinking about new work that is always thinking that I must future proof it in some way because of what we've all been through. When I start thinking about a new piece of work I'm also thinking that we must do a film version and we must do an online version but really it is just fantastic to be back properly now.”

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