Brighton Festival 2023
High energy fusion of contemporary and traditional dance and music full of Turkish delight by this talented young company. The second commission for Brighton-based Ceyda Tanc following 2018’s hugely successful Kaya.
A group of young women, one in pink, the others in sombre tones, come to the edge of the stage and pose as if for a camera. Gently cradling each others heads they are a snapshot of sisterhood; in their downward eyes a sort of forlorn longing. It speaks to our times and pertinently of women’s place in Turkish society which, at the time of writing, is at tipping point in deciding the country’s political future.
For her new Brighton Festival commission, choreographer Ceyda Tanc (who is of Turkish heritage) draws on the traditional movement of Turkish male dancers in the Zebek ‘eagle dance’ for an all female company of six. With a swagger part parade-ground, part cat-walk, the work makes much of dance in unison and formation, swooping across the stage in intricate patterns, stridently feminine.
It’s the arms that catch the light and the heart. Twelve glowing long limbs elegantly reaching and twisting, hands like fluttering birds. They want to soar. Referencing street dance with body rolls and flicks it feels modern, driven by the Turkish-techno mash-up of music collaborator Asta Horiki. The score is at its best when the ney flute, doumbek drum, voice and oud add nuance; the beats become repetitive and sound slightly muddy.
If there’s no real shift in pace beyond fast then slow, Kizlar has variety enough to hold the attention: an extended duet embrace, a solo that shows some flesh and feels surprising transgressive, the lovely shapes of those interlocking arms and arched necks. If the choreography doesn’t quite reach dizzy ecstasy of Sufi-style dervish spinning that it references, it certainly pleased the home-crowd.