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Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
On Location
Argentine Tango
Istanbul, OT (Turkey)

Istanbul and Baila Tango Argentine Tango Festival 2003 - A Journal and Photo Documentary - Part 2

by Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
August 11, 2003
Istanbul, OT (Turkey)
See Part 1 of this article

August 10, 2003

Jak Jacob Karako's History, His Mother's Old Neighborhood

Morning of the Last Day in Istanbul

*Sponsored by Baila Tango

Click here for more photos
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower

This Sunday morning, after my favorite choices at the Pera Palas buffet breakfast, which I sorely miss, of a variety of olives with white cheese, melons and figs, tiny croissants and breads, and fresh coffee, I followed Jak outside the Hotel to a narrow, side street at the rear, where we explored his mother, Victoria's, old neighborhood. We looked at balconies and houses, windows and doors. Somebody was making a film, and others were watching us.

We saw many stray cats and a few dogs, which, by the way, are very common in Istanbul. People tend to leave food for the stray animals, and they did not look weak or unhealthy. My suspicion was that there may be small, crawling, fast creatures that serve as targets for the roaming felines, but I did not see one. Maybe I was purposely not looking. There were terrific views of the Istanbul rooftops, and this was my last day in town.

I bought ten lovely postcards at the Hotel desk and wrote out nine in the Orient Bar. I had such a need to sit there one more time, amid the opulence of another era, another cast of characters. The Bellman at the door, with the encouragement of the all-knowing and ever-watchful, Front Desk Manager, offered to walk the postcards to the post office the next day, stamp them, and mail them, all for 10 million Turkish Lira, which they insisted was almost the price of the overseas stamps. In a leap of faith, I turned over a paper bill. To my delight, the postcards seem to have arrived, as I remember to check with the intended recipients.


August 10, 2003

Interview of Ilker Kerem Oksuz

*Sponsored by Delta

Click here for more photos
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower

Today, my last afternoon in Istanbul, I met Kerem, once again, but this time in front of the contemporary and lavishly decorated Marmara Hotel. We went upstairs to a lovely bar/café, overlooking Taksim and the Metro construction project, but also near a large, tropical fish tank We shared a light dinner, later, in a lively Bistro on Istiklal. I already missed Kerem, and he was still there. He became a loyal and understanding friend, with depth, humor, and character. He also symbolized the exotic fusion of Turkish culture and Argentine Tango.

REZ - Why do you love Tango?

KO - When I was a child, I heard Tango music, maybe Turkish Tango. I love the word, 'Tango'. The word makes music to me. It's interesting to say, 'Tango'. I remember the first time I heard Tango. If I don't do Tango, that would be a big emptiness in me.

REZ - What is special about your technique of teaching Tango?

KO - I want to teach how you live the music in your step. I want to live in the music and show the basic step to do this. The boléos and gonchos are not important to me. I can show another show figure, but I want to show a soft dance.

REZ - Talk to me about what happens to you, when you start to dance.

KO - First, I want to be with a woman, together, and then I start to do my step. In my thinking, the woman wants to feel what the music tells is telling them. I can't understand the words, but I feel the music.

REZ - Tell me about your childhood.

KO - I didn't dance, because I was too shy. My mother played music, and she helped me dance. My mother and father dance slow bolero. I started at 13 or 14 at a theatre school and did a show with the University students. I was then taken into the University group, and they liked me and let me work with them.

REZ - And, when you became older….

KO - I was going to another school, and, four years after, I went to high school in another City.

REZ - When did you start to dance?

KO - I did Lambada in a little Festival and then started Tango, when I was 18 or 19.

REZ - Who was your teacher?

KO - I first started in the University. They have a Club, and we started with cassettes. Then I met teachers and couples, like Juan and Viviana, Lena and Ahmet, Yuri Mezo, Omar and Monica, Eduardo, and Aysegul Betil (a teacher in Istanbul).

REZ — What are you doing now to create a career in Tango?

KO - I teach Tango, and I teach this technique. I can understand the man's and the woman's technique. I would like to go to other countries and see other techniques and other teachers.

REZ - What do you want for yourself, and how will you make that happen?

KO -I want to be more perfect in the way I know Tango. Tango is a sea. You can drink the water one glass at a time. If I drink the sea with my glass, someday I will find the chance to be famous. This chance is important.

August 10, 2003

One Last Stroll on Istiklal

Shopping for CD's

*Sponsored by Delta

Click here for more photos
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower

After a light dinner with Kerem, he assisted me in shopping for the perfect Turkish Tango CD's. I was looking for gifts for my Tango coach, Carlos DeChey, for friends, for my niece and nephew, father and son, and for myself. We looked in store after store (there are dozens of music shops here, with wide open doors that open haunting sounds of culture and dance deep into Istiklal). After Kerem and I said our Goodbyes, I bought extra CD's, with Belly Dance music for a friend and my niece, Turkish Rock for my nephew, piano solos for my son, cultural folk music for my father, Turkish Tangos for my Coach, a colleague, and myself, as well as haunting flute tunes, and Turkish Latin for Robert Abrams, my Webmaster, RobertaOnTheArts.com and Publisher of ExploreDance.com.

I also found small enough boxes of Turkish Delight to squeeze into suitcase corners, and returned to Pera Palas to collapse. There was packing to do, so I made a room picnic of some fruits and cheeses, a loaf of bread, and a small bottle of Turkish wine. I had already purchased similar picnic delicacies earlier in the week, and had found this resourcefulness well worth the effort, since there was a tiny refrigerator in each guest room at Pera Palas. Plus, it was like shopping for food in Paris. A Bakery here, a fruit cart there, a cheese shop down the block.

That night, I fell asleep early, to my surprise, (perhaps the Turkish wine was influential) and missed any last minute adventures or Milongas. The thought of packing and traveling in the early AM was a daunting prospect for a late night Tanguera.


August 11, 2003

Istiklal Airport

Delta Trip to JFK Airport, NY

*Sponsored by Delta

View From My Window, Turkish Islands
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower

With Jak's assistance, I shared a cab with Rachel on Monday morning, and, at Istiklal Airport, found my last minute gift items, such as photo magnets of the Mosques and of one corpulent Ali Baba riding a donkey. Bargaining at the airport was just as easy and less distracting than bargaining at the Grand Bazaar. In fact, there was another, mini-Grand Bazaar right there at Istiklal Airport, but I had not known. So much easier to do with the extra wait time, of late, prior to departure. But, there was no haunting music, no trolley, and no cobble-stoned walkway. Just the loud airport announcements.

Today was no exception to the rule that flying Business Class, or any class, for that matter, on Delta, is an enormous pleasure. Again, I found a Delta Business Lounge, shared by British Airways, and there was actually New Age sound and the natural sounds of birds chirping, as the waiting passengers brunched (about 10:45 AM) on snacks and coffees, brought to the couches and lounge chairs by cheerful waiters.

The flight home found me, again, next to a lovely professional woman, who had been traveling in Istanbul with friends, and we shared many stories. We both watched Laurel Canyon, a dark, twisted California film, on our individual TV screens, and I lunched on lobster, salmon, and vegetables. There was the well-appreciated sherry and lots of time to sleep. These flights were about 14 hours, with the airport logistics, so sitting next to a neat, personable passenger is critical. I was very lucky, both ways, and look forward to flying Delta again in the near future. I highly recommend Delta Business Class for all log distance flights, with the enormous leg space and the flexible and extended seats.

I kept peering out my window seat, at islands, at the Sea, then the clouds, and then the skyline. We arrived 7 hours earlier than Istanbul time, so it was still late afternoon! Now, for the jet lag, but that's not an Istanbul story. And, in this eery transition in time, space, and access (now my cell phone worked, and messages were chirping), my mind dared to wander to the New York Tangueros and where the Milonga was……with Delta travel surprises tightly clutched under my arm.

More Istanbul Articles

  • My Reflections of the Istanbul Trip - 8/11/2003 - by Eileen Fisher.

  • Istanbul Funnies - 8/11/2003 - by Jodi Waldron.

  • Pera Palas Hotel - Leon Trotsky Room - 8/11/2003 - by Ken Brezinsky.

  • The Hamam - 8/11/2003 - by Rachel Lagunoff.

  • TANGO ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS - 8/11/2003 - by Tina Anderson.

  • For more on Istanbul, check out www.istanbul.com

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