Choreographer Emrecan Tanis: “What does ‘at home’ actually mean?”

Choreographer Emrecan Tanis: “What does ‘at home’ actually mean?”

Dancer and freelance choreographer Emrecan Tanis’ Together Alone project H-ome is a short film trying to capture the feelings of the pandemic through dance. He told us what to expect.

How did you come up with the idea for the dance film?

The current situation motivated me to think more profoundly about the meaning of home. It also forced me to think differently about the way I can produce and realise a choreography. What is important to point out, however, is that the final result, the video, is not a compromise: It is an artwork that stands on its own.

H-ome is about trying to capture the current moment to make a future memory out of this situation. We are questioning if we can find the core memory of today’s feeling. Our plan is to take scenes from our daily life and make them from a surrealist perspective. I’ve always wanted to make dance films. I believe there’s a lot we can say through film as an art form. It’s not like a dance performance but we can use many different details with recording and editing.

How can one possibly transfer feelings to others according to you?

Dancing itself is a way of transferring feelings. Transferring feelings via dancing is much easier than telling a story with dancing. I’m trying to see the very daily things from a different angle. For example, I’d like to capture a lazy Sunday morning in the bed but the dancers will have a smoke coming out from their mouth but they are not actually smoking. How we do this is the tricky part but I have a plan, as always.

What kind of challenges have you faced when teaching the choreography through video connection?

The biggest challenge is how time consuming it is. Sometimes I’m not sure if the choreography is correct or not. When you are in the same physical place, you can sometimes just feel it – the moment when it’s right. Through video that doesn’t really happen. Each time when we are working via Zoom, when the dancers start recording it looks totally different so we need to go back and forth many times.

Compared with normal choreography, what needed to be considered in this piece?

Normally, I’m very prepared and have a clear vision of what I want. Because of the video calls, I want to challenge myself to give the dancers more freedom in this project.

How was it for the dancers to work from their homes?

They are really eager to work honestly. I’ve been working with them before. Some of them I’ve been working with for 8 years, some just a few months so I know what they are capable of. The dancers are from Finnish National Ballet, Hannover Staatstheater, Theater Hof and one freelance dancer based in Finland. When I work with this group of people I have no stress or concerns. We have a big variety in terms of nationalities in our group and we are all far from each other so this project is based on the trust with my dancers, composer and video designer.

How have you been working via video connection?

I create the choreography and the dancers record themselves with their own camera devices. I’ve been working with each dancer individually. The dancers have only been able to see each other, if I have sent them the video. Only me, the composer, video designer and the dancer we were working with at the time were in the Zoom meetings.

I’ve seen different videos that have been created during this period where people have been performing at the same time and I’m trying to create something different. I’m trying to change the game by creating steps and teaching the dancers them, yet giving them freedom to add their own interpretation of the movement with their own feelings. Also, the editing and the new music created for this project will make this piece unique.

Have there been any surprises in the process?

Not yet. I’m working on different scenes and we are always trying to have a twist within the scene. Like at home, what does home mean actually? I don’t want to say too much about the film as I don’t want to spoil any surprises. We are trying to approach every scene from a very different perspective, let’s put it that way.

How do you think our idea of home will change as a result of this pandemic? 

Home will feel safer and more private, but at same time a bit claustrophobic and boring. Of course by the time our idea of home will evolve again because we tend to remember only the good parts of the memories. That is why we are making this short dance movie. It’s an honest memory for future generations.

Watch the dance film H-ome here.

Text: Sara Nguyen Photo: Martin Krcmar

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