Friday, May 9, 2014

World Premier of the Legend of Newroz in Toronto

Dance and music can jump over and fly above language barriers and connect humans across the globe. Through triggering aesthetics in human psyche, arts can claim people’s heart and soul and draw them in.

That is what the Kurdish artist, Fethi Karakecili, is doing. He is a choreographer and an artistic director who has showcased the beauty of Kurdish culture, history, literature, dance and costume.

“I want to say to the world that being a Kurd means being a human being.  The word “Kurd” has many associations: survivor, unhappy, unaccepted, state-less, land-less, sad, refugee… war. Despite all that, Kurds live their lives with honour, integrity, courage and success,” says Karakecili.

Fethi Karakecili universalizes Kurdish art. Bravely stepping outside his comfort zone, he works with international dancers and then presents his production to a worldwide audience, whoever would like to watch a beautiful dance.

In a week he will stage his latest production, the Legend of Newroz/Dance of Colours. The story is well-known among Kurds: When the cruel King Zahak let the devil kiss his shoulders, two snakes came out who needed to be fed human brain every day or they would eat the King’s brain.

Two infants had to be killed daily to feed the snakes; the villagers could do nothing but mourn. The king’s chef, however, would only kill one baby and would secretly send the other one to hide in faraway mountains. Kawa Asengar, a blacksmith, lost six children and when his seventh child was to be taken away to become the snakes’ dish, he had enough. He was determined to fight the King.    

The story is presented in form of dance and music to an international audience. Dancers are professionals in various fields: contemporary, ballet, Kurdish, classical Indian, Lori and Gilaki dances. This is an exceptional opportunity for the audience to see such a variety of performances in one evening.

Fethi Karakecili was born in Urfa, Northern Kurdistan where, despite the social taboos, he received his Bachelor’s Degree in Folk Dance at the State Conservatory in Turkey. His Master’s Degree was completed in Dance at Istanbul Technical University, Social Science Institute.  

Now he is a Ph.D. Candidate at York University of Toronto and his research focuses on an ethnographic approach to Kurdish wedding rituals, dance and music in Kurdistan and Diaspora.

He is the founder of Dilan Dance Company and has performed at a variety of stages across Canada. In 2011, he took the Kurdish love story Mem-o-Zin on stage in Toronto. That was the first Kurdish ballet theatre performance in the world. Karakecili’s dancers and musicians were Canadians from a variety of backgrounds, from Africa to Asia to Europe.

The Legend of Newroz and Dance of Colours, the epic story of fighting oppressors, will be performed on May 16 at Isabel Bader Theatre: 93 Charles Street West, Toronto, Canada.

Originally published at

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