Montag, 27. Oktober 2014

Tacheles mit Tangueros 6: An Interview with Murat Erdemsel - Part C

Please do not miss the other parts of this interview:
An Interview with Murat Erdemsel Part A
An Interview with Murat Erdemsel Part B

So, we are back again - after a long break (weeks, months). Leading different lives, making different experiences. In my case I was involved in "normal" or everyday life. And Murat has a turn of fate since his father became ill, had a stroke and he went to Istanbul taking care of him.

[04.09.14 23:05:28] Cassiel: Hi Murat, we are back again. How is your time now.

Murat Erdemsel: I am fine, and indeed it’s been a long time. I was just starting to realize that, it will be harder to resume our chat instead of making a brand new one. Well, we can't do that either, can we? So I'll try my best to jump back on the boat.

I took a clear break from doing what I thought made me, me. Traveling, teaching, dancing, making connections, doing photography, and a little bit of face booking, youtubing, flickring etc. It was a phone call from a friend who delivered me a message from my mother, stating, my father had a stroke and lost half of his body’s mobility. I should come back home, he might be leaving us.

Father & Son - Murat Erdemsel with his father Taçay Erdemsel (2014)

Cassiel: What was the first thought you had in this situation? I mean you had been a kind of imprisoned in a tight schedule. You feel you have to break free immediately ... but maybe it is not so easy to change right away. How do you remember this period of time?

Murat Erdemsel: Nothing else mattered, I got myself a new ticket and arrived at the hospital with my suitcases. First days I was in shock, didn't know what to do. Just told my mother to go home and I will take it over now. Rest was adjusting the situation day by day. Feeding him and giving his medicines through a pipe that was going to his stomach from his nose. Standing by him all day and crashing a few hours of sleep on the couch. A few days later I found myself becoming like a nurse, caregiver, cleaning staff and a personal assistant of his outside-of-the-hospital life. I took notes of everything happening, every word doctors said because I was so confused, understanding nothing. I had no such experience like it before. A few weeks later I got used to it. I started to understand his condition better than his doctors. But only a month later I finally felt for the first time that my father was sick and nearly dying and he needed my help.

Cassiel: How did your way of looking on life changed during this time? In other words: How would you describe the change of consciousness of a man in his best years being slowed down to nearly zero? And how is it changing a character who is usually aware of himself like a tango dancer?

Murat Erdemsel: I was feeling like a mouse dropped inside a labyrinth. Getting stuck in details but never to see the big picture. 2 months passed, and just as I thought I had got everything under control about him - as he started his physical therapy, he had a heart attack in the house. Which took us backwards with a large step.
I cancelled some events while had to keep a few. Everybody was incredibly nice to me. There was no problem. I learned a lot from this experience. Countless lessons.
Family always mattered for me. I realized, I have been a traditional person. Not in a sense as being religious or anything. But I grew up in a family with problems, and now realized those problems made me love the family as I had given so much to keep things together. I can see now that life is on a spectrum. No matter what you are doing, there is always the other side of the spectrum. Not better or worse but just the opposite, there is the furthest end on each side. Unavoidable to not see the life as a whole after recognizing that. Things happen to us to show us where we are, in perspective.

 (see also my facebook-message)

Cassiel: That raises us too a nearly philosophical dimension. :-)

Murat Erdemsel: Well, let’s go there then.

Cassiel: Is it too early to ask? Did your experiences affect your view on tango?

Murat Erdemsel: My view did not change, at least as far as I am aware of. But this was the longest time in my tango life that I did not dance, teach or even think about tango. About a month and a half.

Cassiel: In between I did a lot of tango, visiting workshops, attending festivalitos or encuentros.

Murat Erdemsel: Fantastic. Happy for you.

Cassiel: More and more I realize that tango shows you a missing part in your spiritual path. BUT: Tango shows you there is something missing … regularly, tango will not give you an answer. I've talked to a friend about that. I mean: You can perfectly hide behind tango activities and your big aim will be out of sight. Do you know what I mean?

Murat Erdemsel: Absolutely, how dare anybody can say the opposite. There is always a singer crying out loud in every tango that he either lost his woman, or he missed the city or the neighborhood he is from. Even if people do not understand the meaning of lyrics, they can still sense it. I will agree that feeling in the music will call out it's people, the right kind of people who left something in their life. (I am having a good moment here writing to you about Tango whilst listening to #8 In A Minor from Brahms.)

Cassiel: But - as always in life - people get trained during these times. How is your situation now?

Murat Erdemsel: Now… Ok, I needed to go to a few festivals that I was not able to cancel. Catania Tango Festival in Italy and Tarbes Tango Festival in France. Before I went, I knew this would become a crazy transition. From sleeping on a dirty couch in the patient room with the fears of catching the hospital virus, not being able to shower after being waken up 16 times during a night of sleep, eating hospital food… - to being a teacher in such festivals, especially teaching the special seminars outside of the program in Tarbes festival, giving photo shoots with the mayor after a class, posing for newspaper articles, staying in fancy hotels, eating good food, and getting paid well at the end. Before I left to these festivals, I thought I would have forgotten how to speak English, forgotten how to teach and dance. It turns out, it was only in my head, as usual. It was a terrific experience and a great success. One moment, I taught a class with over 800 students attending. Unforgettable experiences both in France and Italy.

Cassiel: Could you describe your visions before you gave a class for 800 people ... and finally: Did your expectations turn out correct in that special moment?

Murat Erdemsel: From the previous year's experience, I proposed to the organization that I would like to teach a class right before the milonga and share with dancers "how to dance in crowded milongas and be in unison". And including a piece called "Game Plan": I made slides on my keynote showing the floor plan of the milonga and pointed out the existing problems and offered solutions to resolve those problems so that the dancing experience can be better for all. About 800 people heard this section and when the other 1200 arrived to dance, these 800 dancers became the pioneers of the movement. That night dancing was significantly better than the previous nights. And all following nights were also noticeably better. Organizers expressed to me that, the last 4 years they were working on the issue, and they witnessed the problem was solved in this 1 hour. I took it as a compliment. (For more information please see also my notes on facebook.)

Cassiel: That seems to be a pretty strong contrast: Taking care of your father and being the centre of hundreds of people and assisting them to move nicely in a milonga. But - as always - success is a good fuel for action. But you returned to Istanbul didn't you?

Murat Erdemsel: Interesting you say that. Navigating my life among the 3 people; my father, mother and the nurse I hired, was much harder, much more demanding than navigating hundreds of people in the ronda during the class. There were some unforgettable moments during taking care of him at the hospital. One night I carried him to the showers with not enough preparation. I was thinking it’s been a month using wet wipes to clean him, so he deserved a good bath. I had no idea what was waiting for us there in that whole. Everything was wet and slippery, he was heavy, not properly sitting. Could not hold him right and wash him in the mean time. Everything went wrong. Door was locked and if we failed and fell, nobody would know we were there in the middle of the night. I was scared to death during the moments of carrying and handling him. No accident happened. But this was the most difficult hour in my life, never to be forgotten. So conducting an 800 people class was a piece of cake compared to carrying and showering an old man with a paralysed body.

Cassiel: I can imagine this time is also a kind of "very demanding" for a partnership. Is it too intimate to ask, how you and Michelle experienced that time?

Murat, Taçay and Michelle
Murat Erdemsel: Michelle always loved my father. Some years ago, once she had asked him in person; "I do not know my father, would you be my father too?" we all cried so crazy at that moment. She was sweet and my father was so touched. He loved her too.
When we heard about the news from my mother, we were at the Zadar Tango Festival in Croatia. She and I talked about what to do. It was a too short of a notice to give The New Zealand Tango Festival organizers. They requested if Michelle could teach the workshops while I was there in Istanbul. We accepted it. She went and taught by herself. It was a huge success. I am proud of her.

Cassiel: So, she experienced a success by her own … not only being a part of M&M?

Murat Erdemsel: Yes she did, and I believe this was her first festival teaching by herself. With some good number of people and students surrounding who were following my father's updates and supporting her with good vibrations. Indeed she did not necessarily need that support, but hopefully it made it a little easier for her.

Cassiel: Is it an idea for the future, that she will do workshops or classes on her own? I mean, you can't see what challenges are waiting for you and your family.

Murat Erdemsel: I can see this is a good question. Not because of my father's tentative situation that we may work separately, actually we have agreed to slowly separate our ways for our personal reasons some time ago.

Cassiel: Hmmm... So sorry to hear that. I am ... speechless. I feel with you both. Taking care of you and Michelle I hardly dare to ask how it comes … I mean, I really understand, if you do not want to talk about that. But would you like to try to describe from your point of view how this situation came up finally?

Michelle & Murat
Murat Erdemsel: I am sorry if this comes to you as a surprise. It is not easy to put in words what finishes our 10 years of working, loving each other, friendship, marriage. We did not want to announce it, did not want to post it on Facebook or any where on internet. But we have been answering openly when asked, we are honest about it. It is not a quick silly decision nor disagreement, there were no fights about it, with no broken hearts. There are different priorities in our lives now and we both respect the new ways we want to walk. We both are happier this way.
I love her and will take care of her when she needs me. As far as I know she wants to be in New York and continue to dance. Dance other forms as she used to before our partnership as well as Tango. I shouldn't say more about her plans as I do not know exactly.

[19.09.14 22:48:36] Cassiel: OK … I think we should not talk in detail about these things. I would like to respect Michelle’s and your privacy. Sure it is a break for you, you have to think about your life and tango. Do you have a feeling for the essentials? Or in other words: What will be stable in your tango? What will probably change?

Murat Erdemsel: Thank you, you are very kind.
This last 3 months, including this significant interruption in our interview, I found the chance of seeing the other side of the spectrum in my life. In fact I am having difficulties finding the bridges from one side to the other. I know what will stay and what will change and I should be able to summarize it for you. My family, where I am coming from, my duties in this part of my life are so real. I am learning and adjusting to the fact that these are worth changing many things in the other side of my life, where I created everything by myself anyway. This place is where my art resides, personal life, my interests and my relationships. It's getting easier for me each day to make the connections, so that eventually I should be able to blend the two. But, my goodness! I still cannot believe how I made this new life of mine in last 15 years that is just so different. This evening when I casually arrived my mother's house here, I saw my father was sleeping in front of TV which was displaying one of the DVDs I had made for my mother displaying our tango life, performances, interviews and lecture footage. That was so shocking to my eyes. It looked unreal, like Peter Parker watching the spider man on TV. That’s where it is blending, maybe I should say leaking in.

Cassiel: But then how would your traveling schedule look? When will you be back to your second home, The United States?

Murat Erdemsel: I will stay here around Europe for a while, teach in Europe and will always make more time to come back home to my parents. At least for a while. Already booking for 2015. Seems getting busy. Month of May is all gone. I will be in the USA in February, March and April of 2015. 
One thing keeps me walking on my artistic life is all the work I have put together so far, and the people inviting me to share it. Just visited France, Hungary and Germany. New weekends being scheduled at the moment. Any of these days I should be putting the new traveling schedule on my website.

Cassiel: Hmmm... You've just mentioned that you will stay here in Europe for a while. Is the distance to the place where your parents live the only reason? Or are there other differences in European and US-american tango (at least at the moment for you)?

Murat Erdemsel: Parents first, then new partnerships, new relationships and the desire to explore Europe more. I was supposed to know Europe first in fact. Being from where I am, I jumped overseas to the other side of the world and lived there for a long time (including being stuck for 8 or 10 years for not having a green card). While my brother lives in France, parents in Turkey, and my favorite place to visit being Germany.

Cassiel: How have you experienced Tango in Europe lately? I think the quality of sound has become a serious question in the last 2 or three years.

Murat Erdemsel: I think of the European Tango scene as a soup of many ingredients compared to American's. The difference between the styles of a Swedish dancer and an Italian, is way more noticeable than the New Yorker and a Chinese immigrant's dancing in Los Angeles. How tango is perceived in Germany, I guess is closer to what I have imagined it for myself.

Cassiel: I mean there is (at least in my opinion) a great variety in tango in Europe espacially in Germany. I think there is a real difference between Hamburg, Berlin, Frankfurt and Heidelberg (just mentioning a few cities) And I have to be careful right now. For every statement it is easy to find the opposite example.

Murat Erdemsel: I am sure it is that way from your perspective, being inside. But looking at it from a bird’s eye perspective, I see obvious facts about how tango is perceived in Germany compared to other countries in Europe and the United States, Australia etc.

Cassiel: Do you have a perception of German tango? How would you describe it?

Murat Erdemsel: I knew this was coming. It is always very hard to describe to someone about what I think of their dance and what’s different compared to the others. Because I can not exclude the cultural facts that are so well infused into the understanding of the dance. And perhaps the cultural part is the part which is harder to pin point. And the fact that I am not only Turkish, which would have been easier talking about Germans - since we are the largest minority in Germany, but, I am also American, makes it harder in some ways, easier in other ways to do this analysis.

By the way, I really do appreciate you looking in to other tango minds and asking for what we may think of tango in Germany.

Here are a few things I can tell, hopefully without making sharp corners. In Germany the people I have met so far, do their homework so well. I love that and take it as an example for myself. A dancer in Augsburg, Germany, happily stayed for additional 2 hours after the milonga, and helped me to set up a hand cut light fixture for the following night's event. A German will prioritize that the quality of the sound coming from higher quality speakers in the milonga place should not be diminished, especially compared to such other things like finding a larger parking place outside. He must be biking to the milonga anyway. I feel all this deeply inside me as well. And a bunch of other things I have seen and experienced. When I expressed myself in such ways while I am in The United States, I am feeling as I am judged as being intense, too perfectionist. Hard to explain.
In Germany, he or she will catch me during the milonga to ask deep questions even though with only decently understandable English, rather than asking me to dance. They will ask me to dance, if my answer was satisfactory. These qualities are a little bit demanding I feel when I am dancing or working there in Germany. I like being challenged, but cannot entirely relax either. It doesn't scare me necessarily, but keeps me up on my toes sometimes.

Cassiel: But do you really think, that is basically a question of nationality? I think it is more a question of a unique approach to tango. I know a lot of people from other countries doing it the same way. But they are more quiet in their path to tango … thinking twice before acting … seeking for something special … I mean: you will find these people from all nations usually in a small - maybe european - encuentro.

Murat Erdemsel: I do not know if it’s a cultural matter. All I can say, this kind of incidents happen to me a lot during my visits in Germany. I cannot, and should not generalize. But can only tell my experiences. Please take it with a grain of salt.

Cassiel: You have mentioned the organizers. What do you appreciate in detail from organizers? (Being friendly, being professional ... ... …)

Murat Erdemsel: I always felt, respecting the artists is significantly greater in Europe. Italians to be precise, they even love you, even if they have never met you before. To give an example, I remember moments of sitting in the back of a small Fiat after being picked up at the airport, but then observing through the mirror that the organizing couple in the front seat giggling at each other because they just can not believe we are simply in the same car with them. They confess that to you too. In The United States we are more like partners to each other. Which is also fine. But sets up a very different feeling. I appreciate both approaches, but love one. Please do not get me wrong, I do not ask for spoiling effects, and do not find it necessary. But in my opinion, there should be "invisible contracts" among every person. I am speaking in life in general. We need to respect the contract fully and unconditionally until one of the participants break it. Until that moment, I like opening myself honestly, trustingly, generously and even lovingly to the partners in our social contract. In Europe, I feel the invisible contract is set up with more flexibility, with more love and care. It usually is the key to the success of the overall experience in my work with others.

Cassiel: I am really enjoying talking with you but unfortunately we have to come to an end. We have talked about a lot of things starting with musicality and ending up with some remarks about the changes in your life and some observations you made in your work. I think I have to work a bit to bring it in a form suitable for reading. I have one last question: Do you have a vision? Who will you be in 5 years?

Murat Erdemsel: I agree with you. First things first. I will be saying hello to my friends with a new knowledge, new face, with new workshop titles and with a new partnership. I will announce to our organizers that I will be working in 3 different formats from now on. 
1) I will be working solo giving my lectures and workshops, 
2) I will be working with a new professional partner, Sigrid Van Tilbeurgh whom I have been observing with awe, and, 
3) I will be working with an assisting friend, Helena Ivezic who is an active DJ and a great dancer working in Europe.
Depending on the organizations’ needs, I will be able to respond with any of these options. Some are specifically interested in my lectures and musical training, some are interested in a mixture of palette including social dancing and partnerships, some are interested in a work that includes some serious dance performance work as well. I always have admired Sigrid since the first time we danced with each other in 2009. I have been following her career for the last years and we both are excited to be in this new partnership. I know I have so much to learn with her, from her. 
By the way, my 2015 travel schedule is already online. (A link to Murat's schedule)

Cassiel: How about the lectures and your research on music?

Murat Erdemsel: I will continue "8 elements of music" lecture and workshop training as it has been a great success this year. There are more locations inviting me to share this work. But, starting from 2015, I will also have a new line of work to share, it's called; "Elements in Movement" where I will share a deeper work in to the vocabulary and the partnership in the dance. Surely every movement will be geared towards social dancing, but it will include some of my recent works with Qigong and other martial arts. I am looking forward to sharing, an effortless, soft and comfortable dancing experience with my friends and students. And of course I will always incorporate my lectures and visual presentations.

Last but not the least, I have future plans to continue my research with my artistic lectures where I want to open it up to a larger spectrum of audience made of dancers, artists, musicians and scientists. I will accept offers from organizations who are interested in bringing new artistic inspirations to their community.

There will also be new versions of lectures that are specifically designed for Tango Marathons where organizers should be interested in providing inspiration to the dancers rather than offering workshops. No teaching but giving some good food for good thought.

Cassiel: It was a great pleasure and a huge honor to talk with you in depth. Thanks for all the time, the new ideas and being patient with me. I wish you all the best and a lot of good energy for your family and all the people you love. Take care ... please …

Murat Erdemsel: Thank you for having me. I have learned a lot during all this writing. I feel I made a good friendship with you, you were so patient and charming at all times, including those weeks of painful moments in my side of life.
Murat Erdemsel - teaching in Augsburg

Please visit Murat’s schedule page and book him for a festival, marathon and workshops.
Please visit Murat’s website for all his artistic work.

Murat wears custom made trousers designed by his mother.
His tango performance videos with various partners in his YouTube channel,
his art works and tango paintings in another YouTube channel.

6 Anmerkung(en):

Tom hat gesagt…

Ich weiß gar nicht, wo und wie ich anfangen soll. Ich habe das Interview, oder die Interviews jetzt dreimal gelesen, die Links verfolgt und viel nachgedacht.

Das ist schwere Kost, Slow-Food für das Gehirn. Mir fallen keine Fragen ein, es wirkt alles in sich logisch und abgeschlossen. So bleibt mir nur, mich bei Murat zu bedanken. Das Interview ist großartig, mir sind viele Zusammenhänge klarer geworden und jetzt geht erneut die Arbeit los, die Ideen in meinen Tango zu holen.

Bin ich tatsächlich der Erste, der diesen Teil kommentiert? Kaum zu glauben. Andererseits habe ja ich auch zwei Tage gebraucht.

Nochmals also Danke für den Text, für die Zeit, für die Ideen und für den Willen, etwas im Tango zu verändern, das gefällt mir sehr.

Anonym hat gesagt…

Ich habe es auch erst jetzt geschafft, mit Ruhe das gesamte Interview zu lesen. Sehr beeindruckend! Wie gerne wäre ich bei der "Plauderei" dabei gewesen. Vielen Dank für die Mühe und Danke für das kostenlose Zur-Verfügung-Stellen. Ich werde wieder kommen.

Anonym hat gesagt…

ich habs auch gelesen und frage mich, warum muss es so viel marketing sein. für mich ist der ganze text eine einzige promo für murat und cassiel ist dem auf den Leim gegangen.

cassiel hat gesagt…

@letzter Anonym

Nur ganz kurz: Jede Interaktion in diesem Blog mit einem Menschen, der im Tango sein Geld verdient, ist Werbung, Marketing oder wie es manchmal auch formuliert wird: Kommunikation. Das werde ich nicht vermeiden können. Natürlich hätte Murat die Zeit, der er mit mir geredet hat, auch in Inhalte für seine Website investieren können. Es hat sich anders entschieden. Das ist wohl kaum zu beanstanden. Ich muss jetzt leider arbeiten…

Austin hat gesagt…

Lieber Cassiel,

danke für das Interview. Es stimmt schon, man ist heute keine so langen Interwiews mehr gewohnt, aber ich habe es mir ausgedruckt und auf drei Etappen gelesen und fand es sehr interessant. Die biographischen Teile weniger als die mit Bezug zum Tango, aber die Idee, so einen Tango mal hinzumalen, die finde ich schon sehr gut.

Die Sprache kommt schnell an Grenzen, wenn man über Musik spricht, und ich habe mir schon öfter überlegt, wie man objektiv an die Frage herangehen kann, welche Art von Bewegung die Musik am besten umsetzt. Nicht jeder Tanguero kann einem folgen, wenn man darüber redet, und oft hört man "jeder wie er meint", oder "da gibt's kein richtig und falsch". Stimmt einerseits, ist aber andererseits zu einfach. Murats Visualierung legt nahe, dass zumindest nicht alles immer richtig ist (nur weil wir alle so tolerant sind), sondern dass es etwas gibt, was die musikalisch tanzenden Tänzer von den Tanzsportlern unterscheidet. Jeder tanzt sein eigenes Bild, schon klar, aber die Bilder der musikalischen Tänzer dürften allesamt eine gewisse Ähnlichkeit zu dem haben, was Murat hingemalt hat.

Also das fand ich durchaus bereichernd, und mich motiviert das, in Zukunft noch mehr drauf zu achten, was alles in der Musik passiert.

Leseratte hat gesagt…

Ich habe eben nur Teil C gelesen (die anderen beiden Teile werde ich mir noch gönnen), und das, was ich gelesen habe, hat mich sehr berührt. Ich hatte im Juni das Vergnügen, an einem Wochenendworkshop mit Murat und Sigrid teilzunehmen, und habe die Art, wie die beiden arbeiten, als sehr besonders erlebt. Dieses Interview erklärt mir ein bisschen den Hintergrund. Jetzt werde ich gleich wieder eine ganze Woche mit den beiden und Tango verbringen. Ich freue mich sehr, und nach diesem Interview hat diese Freude noch eine besondere, tiefere Dimension bekommen :-) Vielen Dank für dieses schöne Interview!