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Troya’ is an onstage reflection of the Turkish cultural mosaic
1.       Roswitha
4132 posts
 28 Apr 2008 Mon 12:16 am

Turkey is a mosaic of different cultures and ethnicities," is one of the most celebrated stock phrases we tend to use when describing Turkey. Although this phrase is commonly heard in daily conversation, it is apparent that Turkey also has some serious troubles in internalizing and making sense of differences.

The debate on "freedom of the headscarf in universities" is a very good example of this failure. While these debates maintain their heat, "Troya," the newest dance production by the Anadolu Ateşi (Fire of Anatolia) dance troupe which premiered earlier this month, reveals the true reality of Anatolia.

Under the troupe's art director, Mustafa Erdoğan, "Troya" demonstrates all the colors of Turkey on the dance stage. Therefore, it is more than just another brilliant show. The diversity of this land is reflected through the local attire of the Turkish, Laz, Circassian and Kurdish characters in the performance, while they display a dignified unity in achieving the same goal for the sake of their shared motherland. Thus, says Erdoğan, differences should be treasured. Stressing that a monotype culture and community would be utterly boring, Erdoğan calls on the Turkish public to stand shoulder to shoulder despite their differences. Still known to most people as "singer Gülben Ergen's husband" despite his international achievements with his dance troupe, Erdoğan greets this situation with a smile on his face. Erdoğan speaks to Sunday's Zaman about "Troya," its hidden aspects and his perspective on life in general.

‘Troya' shows us that cultural differences are not a reason for war, but instead a potential bridge for peace. Does this statement suit the message you want to convey?

It's a very true statement. That's exactly what my purpose is. Anatolia is a place with lots of examples of unity in its history. When we take a glance at history we see that whenever we stood shoulder to shoulder and acted in unison we founded great civilizations. The latest link in this chain was the brilliant Ottoman Empire. We managed to overcome so many problems with our differences and colors. And whenever we managed to stay above differences, we became a great civilization. This is an important message. Everybody should hear this. That's why I want to put on the stage an understanding that claims all the cultural layers of Anatolia and sees all of them as part of us.

Turkey is going through a period during which we must attach the utmost importance to unity. Do you think 'Troya' coinciding with such a sensitive period has any special meaning?

We have been in need of unity and togetherness for a long time, not just these days. Because this need is more prominent these days, I believe it will receive more attention. It implicitly criticizes not just the clash of civilizations, but also the situation in Turkey, since Troy was the first recorded war in the world between the East and the West. That friction persisted ever since. We are an ensemble that defends the peace of civilizations.

In addition to oriental views of the West, we hold different views of one another in this land. Sometimes we suffer cases of inability to accept and internalize one another's ethnic identity, culture or even lifestyle. How do you interpret this?

Unfortunately, the developments in these fields are not what should actually have been happening. They are pretty frustrating. In the messages we try to convey, we emphasize the wrongness of the failure to sympathize with one another. Our differences are our treasure. The more differences and colors we have, the richer we are. A monotype culture and community would actually be extremely boring.

There were many women wearing headscarves among the audiences at your show. Does this surprise you?

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