“Turkish Coffee” by Branko Potočan
Madli Pesti, Estonia
Turkish coffee is a method of preparing unfiltered coffee (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turkish_coffee ). Branko Potočan’s “Turkish coffee” is about unfiltered relationships. As Turkish coffee, the performance has strong taste and gives high energy.
Six men are crawling and hopping in from the window of the theatre hall. One after another. They are getting in from the outside world with a plan of creating their own society. In the beginning I have the feeling that societal relations are being played out in front of our eyes. We are confronted with hierarchies, various versions of group dynamics, possible conflicts and solutions. During the next hour, though, the performance turns into an investigation of human relations. It’s clear from the moment when six girls step into the space.
The twelve dancers are running, jumping, hopping, swirling, whirling, crawling, swinging, spinning, twirling, winding. They are energizing the space also with a strong help of a live drummer (music by Jānis Burmeisters). Potočan’s choreography is rhythmical, acrobatic, strong, witty, humorous and very exact. The scenes and sequences are well finished, the dramaturgy is rhythmic. The performance is a kaleidoscopic view into the life of the young people that are living their best years.
Kamma Siegumfeldt, Denmark
A mating game took place
A pink ceiling with golden ornaments
Young, strong people, challenging each other but also softly carrying each other´s weight
Slipping in through the window. Entering from behind
The drums pounding, escalating and the movement tempo rising
Who are we? Which relations exist between us all?
Which ones do we want to exist?
Branko Potocan’s direction of 12 strong dancers displayed quirky formations alternating with more intimate scenes, many in couples. Weight was exchanged. Fast, in the air, balancing softly or flying through the room. Being caught or not being caught. Recovering or indulging for a moment.
Men teaming up, competing, showing off. Women gathering in a group, one woman for a while being captured by the men. Fighting her way out, yelling back at them. Everyone drinking coffee.
Turkish Coffee is an achievement, a physical tour de force challenging the talented dancers, who give everything for the sake of being part of the collective, always on the lookout for interaction. The group of twelve dancers took the space, filled it up and energized it. Made us think of the urgency of the here and now, of the fragility of the moment. Of the importance of taking care of each other, of interaction. Of how human relations are the basis of our existence
A mating game
A search for oneself and the other
Sesselja G. Magnúsdóttir, Iceland
Testosterones were floating on the scene. Men were showing of, fighting but also chasing women. Women were defending them self, but also attacking. The relationship between men and women were aggressive. The physicality of the piece was very strong. Both gender did run, role on the floor, lift and fight, hug, take weight and sharing weight. The relationships were intimate and very much of a physical contact. The choreography was strong especially in the beginning. The beginning was actually very beautiful.
The piece was about gender relations. Those relationships looked very stereotypical, lacking feministic approach. The audiences saw strong women on the stage that fought back when attacked but they did also see myths like women no means yes, men chases women and drags the into their cave, women pull each other’s hair when fighting and when men show of women watch. The relationships between the genders was characterized by aggression, men attacked and dominated but women defended them self.
Over all the choreography was interesting, the movement material was very strong and the dancers where good. Both could be polished more to make it even more fascinating. The theme of the piece was interesting but needed feministic editing.
Moa Matilda Sahlin, Sweden
We the Writing Movement Network are in Riga to finalize our latest project round and dream about a new beginning. We have our host and project leader Inta Balode that guide us and have selected this choreography this night. The premier of “Turku Kafija” by Branko Potočan from Slovenia were yesterday. The group of 12 dancers met during the student years in Riga and decided to stick together and somehow invited this choreographer this year.
Maybe the stage is 10×10 meters and a drummer sits at the left hand corner the whole performance and loop his beat and other sound material. Six manboys enter one after the other and when all have find their spot and done their weight shift the six womengirls, sneak their feet down from under the backdrop. The womengirls were there all the time, aha. It is some what almost refreshing to see heteronormative and youngish physical dance for me this season, 2016. Last time I saw this kind of choreography and bodypolitics were in Stockholm in the 90ies by Kenneth Kvarnström, Ultima Vez, Melo and Rasmus Öhlme.
The questions this choreography awakes is: – what is femininity/masculinity and who are allowed to express them and to what extent? In battles were different dominating strategies are at play which ones are getting you/us somewhere and with ones are going into destruction mode? I get a bit sentimental and ask Branko after the performance that if the group manages to go on tour to Sweden maybe a 40+ dancer can walk in slow motion over the stage as a Queen? Yes we do that and I meet you at the middle as the king and we do a contact partnering with the hands. What do Charlotta Överholm, Netherlands dance company 3 and Baryshnikov have to say about that solution for us in 40+ still dancing have to say about that? I am so curious about the present and the future. One of the dancers in this choreography Agate Bankava say she is committing to this group for more than ten years and she will translate their FB-page from Latvian to English. Then I gladly help her to find open doors and Swedish opportunities as the eco-femme peasant I am. Long live the network!
Mesmerized and paralyzed by Turkish energy
Inta Balode, Latvia
The expectations were high. Previous Branko Potočan’s work called “Mannersache” was a great success and in 2009 started Gertrudes Street Theater which has become an important part of Latvian theater and dance scene. Besides that, “Turkish Coffee” is the first bigger production (12 dancers!!!) of recently established “ĀRĀ” company which is the only one in Latvia operating as a company regularly training together not only gathering for a project. Not so easy to do but the fight is worth that.
On June 10 “Turkish Coffee” got standing ovations and lobby talks were really praising the shape and skills of the dancers.
6 men, 6 women, 1 musician. Slow entrances (men from window (one by one), women from behind the curtain (all together)), lining up, dropping out, building and taking down some group constellations, getting partners, playing, caressing and fighting, fighting, fighting with means of force, beauty and provocation. Just because fight moves the world in some thinking and acting systems. Dynamic world of fall, recovery, rapid changes and awkward slightly moving sculptures.
Men and women come from different worlds and have slightly different ways of demonstrating themselves. Though borders are blurring, all dress the same, drink the same coffee and have the same anger, the same sweat and same ups and downs, belongings and loneliness. Still in most cases men have larger muscle mass so they can juggle with female bodies. Thinking about “Turkish aspect” as Middle East coming up. Should slow and melancholic Nordic people start practicing to be more hot to improve the dialogue of cultures?
I don’t really know yet where exactly I am with my evaluation. I liked the quality of dancing and way the movement is displayed through giving some space in slow moments and chance to get lost in fast ones, and nicely hanging in the air in between. I liked seeing different personalities, how their characters are used and displayed. I felt nice balance in drawing attention to both genders not, as it often happens, men are seen more. There were moments when I felt little bit like in children’s performance. No idea is it good or bad. There were also moments of – so what? And quite a lot of thinking about why men carry women around so much?
Anne-Liis Maripuu, Estonia
There are 12 of them all together (actually 13 but one does not dance, instead he holds drum sticks). Half of them enter the stage through the window and half of them appear from behind the curtain. Although one group consists of only boys and the other from only girls, the Bronko Potočan’s performance “Turkish Coffee” does not deal explicitly with gender issues, rather it concentrates on the relationships between people. There is lots of pushing and pulling, throwing and grabbing. But also holding and caressing. The scene that I liked the most was danced by two dancers. Not only because of what their bodies were able to do on stage but also due to the nature of the scene: not that many duets have been created for young male dancers. The last scene of the production allows to add another layer to the production. All 12 dancers, who by the way form incredibly homogeneous and even group, stand close to each other on the front stage and stare into the audience. Did the whole tossing, tearing, grabbing and pulling have something to do with us, who we were sitting in the audience? Were we the ones who they were fighting against and for?
Светлана Улановская, Беларусь
Спектакль «Turkish Coffee» создан в результате сотрудничества танцевальной компании «ARA» (Латвия) и Branko Potocans (Словения). С помощью молодых артистов, их тел, пластики, голоса, энергетики, индивидуальных характеров хореограф исследует проблему коммуникации – как групповой, так и межличностной. На сцене постоянно находятся 12 человек, разделенные на 2 группы – женскую и мужскую. Помещенные в одно пространство, они вынуждены искать общий язык, взаимодействовать друг с другом. Ни в одной из групп нет лидера, как нет и сплоченности. Каждый – сам за себя. Женская группа здесь практически не отличается от мужской. Порой они столь же активны, маскулинны и могут постоять за себя не хуже мужчин, что противоречит общепринятому образу «нежной женственности». Спектакль синтезирует элементы физического и танцевального театра, и порой психофизическая энергетика артистов настолько сильная, что от «четвертой стены» остаются одни лишь обломки.
*Texts are result of the LAB 4 of The Writing Movement Network that took place in Riga, Latvia during Time to Dance festival in June 2016. The Writing Movement Network is supported by The Nordic-Baltic Mobility Programme for Culture Short-term network scheme.
***Photos by Gertrudes Street Theater