The event was planned as an informational yet informal meeting of several influential educational programs in dance in Europe and local and academic programs. iDANS chose to organize the event with particular focus on the host institution, Mimar Sinan Dance Department, as a case study to address its problems with possible repercussions for the improvement of its program and mission, believing that the platform could be a generative point of entry for exchanges in know-how and potentialities for collaborations between local and European education programs.
The participants invited from abroad were Gabriele Smeets (NL) - Artistic Director of SNDO (School of New Dance Development); Eva-Maria Hoerster (DE) - Managing Director of Hochschulübergreifendes Zentrum Tanz Berlin/Universität der Künste Berlin; Mårten Spångberg (SE) – The former Director of the MA Program in Choreography, University of Dance Stockholm; Barbara Van Lindt (NL) - Managing Director of DasArts Master of Theatre; Steven De Belder (BE) – P.A.R.T.S. - Coordination Research Cycle & Départs Network.
Local participants of the round*table included the faculty members and graduate students/research assistants/lecturers of Mimar Sinan University Dance Department such as Prof. Dr. Aydin Teker (the head of the Department of Contemporary Dance); Associate Prof. Dr. Tugce Ulugun Tuna, Dr. Bedirhan Dehmen, Ilkay Turkoglu, Bahar Vidinlioglu, Sebnem Yuksel, and Defne Erdur, Evren Erbatur. There were also participants from other local dance-related education programs as well as independent dance initiatives with educational programs such as Prof. Dr. Aysin Candan (Yeditepe University, Theatre Department); Ass. Prof. Dr. Zeynep Gunsur (Kadir Has University, Theatre Deparment); Berna Kurt (Lecturer, Aydin University Faculty of Fine Arts); Dr. Ayrin Ersoz (Yildiz Technical University, Modern Dance Department) among some others.
Also present were the participants of the local version of the Critical Endeavor Turkey, a program designed to assist the professionalization of improvement of dance writing and journalism in Turkey, who wrote evaluative texts (in Turkish) on the meeting.
There were about 50 people present throughout the entire meeting, and it was moderated by Aydin Silier (iDANS) and Bedirhan Dehmen (MSGSU Contemporary Dance Department).
The meeting was planned in three parts: In Part 1, representatives of schools were asked to introduce their school/program (its mission, general approach, strengths and weaknesses, etc.). They and other teachers were also asked about their teaching practice, how they balanced teaching with their own artistic work (if it were the case), and what they thought of the relationship between their role as a teacher and their role as an artist. Part 2, if that could ever be reached (more precisely put, if Part 1 would not turn into a “complaint” session) would consist of specific questions designed for specific persons such as the following: How can the dynamics between technique/craftsmanship be balanced with the encouragement of creativity/research in contemporary dance and performance pedagogy? What is the ideal-typical educational environment/teacher/curriculum? What partnerships and alliances can an educational program form –locally, internationally- instead of fighting amongst each other for scarce resources? Part 3 was to open the floor to a general discussion.
The meeting was very successful in several regards: It revealed that MSGSU Contemporary Dance Department was not passionate about the art it was professing. Neither did it defend a particular vision or and approach to teaching, to dance, and to choreography. Even if MSGSU has particular visions, its representatives were unsuccessful about articulating it. The fact that MSGSU staff was so obsessed by diplomas, academic positions, and the imposed bureaucratic rules in order to guarantee the official survival of the department, that they missed the potential of the session which could contribute to the pedagogical and international-collaborative prospects of the department.