Creating unique works going beyond the bounds of any definition, model or rule…
Interview: Merve Aktaş
Please tell us briefly about dadans. How long has it been around, whose dream was it, what exactly does it do?
Melek Nur Dudu: This year, dadans is turning ten. This collective was formed in 2008 after Dila started university and brought to life the idea that had been on her mind for some time. Over the years, more than three people became part of dadans. We increased and decreased in number and turned into a core team of 3 people today. We all have ballet and contemporary dance backgrounds. For a decade now, we have been producing a wide range of work from dance performances to dance theater, short dance films and performance arts. We do not have a set pattern. We enjoy interdisciplinary thinking and production, feeding from different fields. Everything that makes us think and act becomes the main source of our production.
Dila Yumurtacı: It is true that it started out as one person’s dream but when combined with the dreams of others, it grew beyond my expectations and dadans continues to grow. We always have dreams, maybe in 2028 dadans, as a performance collective will be doing something entirely different than today. We do not know and we just keep going.
Even though the production of dadans encompasses different disciplines and particularly dance, cinema, theater and performance arts, we also know that your professional backgrounds include training in social sciences such as sociology and public relations. How is the relationship of dadans with the society? How do social developments in almost any scale reflect on your collective and performance?
Merve Uzunosman: We have all trained in different fields. I studied sociology, Melek advertising and Dila, cinema and visual arts. Even if the fields are different, having background in social sciences helped us to develop a common language and sensitivity among us.
D.Y.: We could say that addressing different aspects of the subject, researching and questioning as we work on a new project became the basic method in our creative process. After all this intellectual process, we find ourselves playing in a creative process with a more intuitive and instinctive attitude and perhaps production occurs when these two different areas achieve a balance. The relationship of dadans with the society begins with the fact that we want to deal with the everyday because we are curious about the issues in our lives and we address them. We see value in what is ordinary. We enjoy getting together with people and producing works that involve communicating with them. It is perhaps for this reason that some of our creations are closer to performance arts where it becomes more than just a performance as we interact with the audience. We believe that in a world headed toward broken relationships people actually need to be much more supportive and sharing. In this respect, we want to open up a space without attributing an important meaning on arts and without directly poking at social happenings but using arts as a tool to maybe question things indirectly.
Photo: Yağız Yeşilkaya
In an environment where sustaining life solely with arts is so difficult it is a pleasure for us to interview a collective that was born in 2008 and has managed to remain active. What kind of a collective is the ten-year old dadans? How did it grow, evolve, become influenced and also influence in this process?
D.Y.: Thank you. Time is passing so fast and yet we did not realize it because we were doing what we loved. So much has changed over the years, but looking back we too are amazed and happy that we have done all those things. I think of how young kids feel when they play because they lose track of time and just enjoy the moment. Although it is hard to survive on arts alone, we continue to do it because this is how we grow.
M.U.: When we first started, we were a more crowded than now. Working with a crowd was more possible during university years. Over time, as other factors and priorities came into play in the normal flow of life, we downsized to our core staff. Dadans has always been a collective open to the outside and collaborations. The artists we have worked with over a decade In a period of ten years, which we started in our early twenties we as the members of the collective matured and evolved. This naturally reflected on our production as well. In the early days, we were mainly producing dance-based stage works, but recently we have been working on more conceptual performances and videos, which are still body and motion-focused but are less scripted. I am sure this transformation and evolution will continue in the coming years. How much did we influence? Frankly, I do not know but we never set to “influence” or “give a message”. What a blessing if we have touched and inspired someone!
M.D.: One reason why we have survived a decade is that perhaps the people that formed this collective and all those that came and went always put dadans at the center. I am not talking about a commitment that could sustain our lives but dadans has been much more than just an occupation, it is a part of our life, like an ever growing and evolving organism.
If we delve into your production processes, what kind of journey does it go through until it reaches the audience? How is the idea formed, how does the medium present itself?
M.D.: The process begins with an idea that one of us comes up with or has been considering for a while and shares it with the others. It may also develop in an exhibition or event with a defined scope that we are invited to. Once the idea is out there, a collective production process ensues.
M.U.: Generally we enter a brain storming process one the idea is presented. The common associations that the idea creates and the way it resonates with each of use also matter. Thinking together and also individually guides the flow of production while it also sets each of us apart in terms of our subjective interpretations. This intellectual process is also accompanied by instinctive attempts for movement.
Fotoğraflar: Murat Dürüm, Neslihan Koyuncu
As you asked in 2012, “Can One Live Alone?” What would you say about individuality and collectivity, as individuals whose lives as well as values intersect at many points and also members that form dadans?
M.D.: Just as in “Can One Live Alone?”, there are also different approaches to this issue in our lives. dadans is as an arts collective and we all love this state of collectivity because we believe that we contribute to each other’s development. Getting to know and discover each other more brings further development. On the other hand, we are also discovering our uniqueness… Therefore, individuality and collectivity are equally important and coexist.
M.U.: First of all, I think one cannot live alone. Each one of us is a unique individual, who is trained in a different field and sustains her life in a different way other than artistic production. But we have also chosen collective production for ten years and we are a community that feeds on this. We enjoy producing as a collective with all its pros and cons but we also try to prevent the collective from hindering us as individuals. In the production process, rather than going for the majority’s choice, we always prefer to progress in a way that satisfies us all, even if it delays or challenges to process. Furthermore, we value the importance of pursuing our individual artistic endeavors or partnerships as much as dadans.
D.Y.: Actually, we have been thinking about what it means to be a community or collective. In the field of performance and dance there are sadly very few collectives, as is in visual arts While artistic creation is often an individual act, there are many different dynamics at play when it comes to collective artistic production. I think the pros of being collective are numerous; supporting one another, sharing tasks, exchanging ideas, flexible thinking encouraged by conflicting ideas and even changing. Of course, there are also cons since our artistic egos get in the way sometimes or a method needs to be developed not to get lost in chaos... But, when you overcome these cons, collective work is a joy. We hope the number of art collectives increases. I believe that art should be shared in a more relaxed, free space beyond the egos.
Speaking of your collective, I came across your quote, “Creating something unique to us beyond definitions, patterns and rules excites us.” Could you talk a little about this approach that inspires your work and perhaps motivates you?
M.U.: Feeding from different sources allows us to re-interpret the issues that we need to combine with different information and ideas in different forms. Although we as individuals often question concepts, the process of inquiry can be become much more interesting with different perspectives when we come together. We like going where this process takes us without any concern for fitting into a description. In fact, this is what excites us the most about working as a collective.
D.Y.: Inquisitiveness and excitement are important for a new production. Without fitting into definitions or getting stuck with how to do something or not, we try to address the issue with our own perspective. We try even if being completely free in artistic production is not always easy or even possible. What we want in this respect is not to limit ourselves, change if necessary and thrive together... Ultimately it is perhaps this ambiguity that excites us.
To date, you have performed on many local and international platforms. Is there a specific place you want to go/be at next, i.e. organizations you want to be associated with etc.?
M.U.: We try to share our regular production at many different events in Turkey. Frankly we are not as active abroad yet. Being on international platforms, whether in the field of performing arts or dance film festivals, is among our medium/long-term goals.
D.Y.: Yes, ever since the collective has existed, we have focused on regular production. Self-discipline is a must for this purpose and we have produce one or two new projects every year. However, performance and sharing it in various platforms are as important as new production. Our performances “Relativity” or “By” can be good examples for the post-creation process. We realized different versions in many different areas and received different reactions, comments and feedback. They feed us about what we do and will do. In the future, it would be nice to reach more people at home and abroad and to increase the number of our performances and production. Meeting and working with new people is always the most important factor that motivates and excites us and drives our learning. Artists, engineers, designers in different fields... In short, we hope to increase our partnerships with those who are free-spirited and open to group work.
Do you have plans for new performances soon? How can our readers follow you?
M.D.: Our latest performance and experience “And But” debuted during the “Repetition and Cycle” event at Salt Galata. There will be other venues and times for the same performance and we expect to finalize them soon. We also have a video project, “Amorphous”, which has already been edited. We will share it when the time is right. Our Instagram and Facebook accounts can be followed. (Instagram and Facebook: dadansofficial) They can also find detailed information about our works on our website: www.dadans.com
M.U.: Other than those, we are working on a dadans 10th anniversary event, where we aim to bring together our works and the people we have worked with to date. Once we are done with the preparations, we will announce the details via our Facebook and Instagram pages.
D.Y.: Please feel free to contact us, not only to follow the performances but also to talk about to producing together. We would love to hear from you.