By Staff writer Nizana El Rassan Nizana: Thank you for agreeing to spend some time with me for this interview, Serkan! I think more people should get the chance to know you, and remind those who do you know you what a great guy you are! Early during the pandemic, you hosted the most wonderful Sunday community dance sessions that were so much fun and I loved your teaching! I invited you to perform in my Night in the Global Village online haflas, and you graciously accepted, despite being halfway around the world across different time zones! Thank you again for that, that was fantastic that you joined us! Please share with our readers what got you interested in Middle Eastern dances and how long have you been dancing.
Serkan: Dear Nizana, thank you very much for your kind words and for this interview. It’s really a pleasure for me to do all this. When pandemic times started, we were all in shock and stressed. We didn’t know what to do, how to react. Just that moment, I had the idea that dance can bring us together and cure us. Like always, and it helped. Like I always say, dance keep us safe. Mentally and physically. Ok answer to your question. I’m dancing already 30 years. But still I’m feeling I just started. Still with full of motivation and love to music and dance.
Nizana: We appreciated it for sure! Have you performed with or directed a troupe or any duets?
Serkan: Yes, I directed some troupes, especially in Asia. Like Singapore, Japan and more. And I had a male troupe before. It was Soultans of Dance. We traveled and performed in some countries in Europe. It was great experience. We performed solos, duets, group dances. And yes, of course, I dance some duets. It’s different feeling and at the same time very nice. You have to dance for yourself and at the same time check your dance partner, space, syncs… it’s challenging. Which is what makes it nice ;))
Nizana: Agree! I was privy to see the different styles you have mastered and study with you a little bit- please tell us about the different performance styles and do you have a favorite style to teach and perform? I see you are still teaching classes. Tell us about your classes; are you still teaching some online classes, too?
Serkan: I’m Turkish, but I study also Egyptian style. That’s makes rich my world, my style. I can’t say only one style my favourite. It changes every time and depends on my mood. Sometimes, I’m really in love with Romani dance. Other times, I’m in baladi mood. One day I’m dancing Turkish style bellydance, other day Saidi. Maybe for some people can be weird, but for me, I’m feeling so lucky I study all this styles and I can dance/teach. Yes, I’m still teaching in person and online also. Online teaching has a different feeling, but it is also nice. In the beginning, you don’t feel the energy much, but learn how to feel the energy in online classes. I have many students in the US and Asia. They can travel and study with me. This is the best way to learn for them. Two days in the week group lessons or private lessons they are participating. They keep learning / dancing. It’s so nice. It’s amazing we don’t give up, whatever happens.
Nizana: That is awesome! Ok, some random questions… What are your favorite colors to wear when performing?
Serkan: I’m really in love with blue. For me, blue the color of freedom and peace. But I love red also when I perform. It’s like a fire. Black is so classy. White is simple, humble. Of course, like many other dancers I have almost all colors of costumes. With each color, I have different feelings. I think I’m a colorful person. Every color has their own energy. And we need all of them.
Nizana: What a great answer on colors, way more than I expected, and right on! Best advice to new dancers?
Serkan: Don’t give up. Ok miracles exist, but sometimes can take little time. Open your mind and feelings to dance/music. Don’t think too much about age, size, gender, colors. We are all different, but at the same time, the same and wonderful. We are all miracles. Respect yourself, others, your dance friends, your teacher(s), culture of the dance. Never compare yourself with others. We are all unique!! And dance, dance, dance! Did I say don’t give up? :))))
Nizana: Great advice, thanks for sharing that, Serkan!! Are you sticking with the “classics” in dance and music, or are you experimenting with some new music and dance styles, too?
Serkan: I’m not really sticking classics. Of course, I love them. But when I hear something new, modern, fusion things, I can fall in love, also. The most important, the music if touching to my feelings or not. That’s how I’m making all choreos. I’m never thinking my choreos. When I hear the song, if I feel the song, choreo coming automatically.
Nizana: You have choregraphed some wonderful routines! Do you cook, and if so, what is your specialty? What is your favorite food?
Serkan: Yes, I cook. But I’m a social cook. I mean I like to cook for my friends, family, students, who I love. Then, I want to cook. And some of them they say I’m good cook. I like to cook mostly Turkish kitchen. But I also like to mix with Mediterranean food. Sometimes, I’m creating something new. I mean there are some recipes, but I change some things. I add my own things and love. It’s more fusion style. let’s say. :)))
Nizana: I do the same with recipes, I like to make them my own. Speaking of “your own,” you just hosted your very own festival, Rakkas Istanbul, and I saw some of the pictures! It looks like everyone had a good time- tell us a little bit about that and the history of the festival! Have you scheduled the next one?
Serkan: Rakkas Istanbul Festival is one big dance family and we have a family atmosphere. That’s how you can see on their faces. They are all happy. Nobody compares each other, we are all unique and wonderful. We are all together for dance and having fun. We are celebrating to dance, culture, happiness. I know it sounds like it’d unbelievable. You need to come and see by yourself. That’s why I say live it to believe it. We just finished the 9th edition. Next year will be the 10th and will be amazing! The dates are 23 - 26 June 2023, just come and enjoy with us. There are workshops, a gala show, competitions, costume bazaar, open stage world show and many more surprises.
Nizana: That sounds fabulous! Ok everybody, get your passports and mark your calendars for next year’s Rakkas Istanbul Festival in beautiful Turkey! Thank you so much, Serkan, for sharing a little bit about your dance journey and your contributions to the field! It was great learning more about you and your festival. Big hugs!
Serkan: Thank you, Nizana. Looking forward to seeing you soon. Sending many hugs.