Gazete ETÜ had a jolly interview with Turkish Folk Dances Club, one of the most established student clubs at TOBB ETÜ. Perhaps you will find answers to any questions you may have about the club, in the following interview we had with Sude, the president of the club. Have fun reading it...

  • Hello Sude. First of all, let me thank you for setting aside some time for us. Could you please talk about yourself a bit, as the representative of the club.

Hello, I am Sude Selen Örek. I am a 2nd year student in Industrial Engineering. For three years now, I am a member of Turkish Folk Dances club. For the last year, I have been serving as its president. I have been dancing for seventeen years now. I started with classical ballet courses when I was 5, followed by gymnastics. During my secondary school years, I studied as a guest student at Antalya State Conservatory. I took part in folk dance teams appearing in school shows, and in the Anadolu Ateşi Dance Group as a professional, during my high school years. When I started my studies at TOBB ETÜ, I joined with the Turkish Folk Dances Club.

Don’t let my history of dancing scare you away, for our club do not impose any requirements for joining. All we expect of you is to take part in regular rehearsals. The number of our group mates with a background in dancing is smaller than those without. Believe you me, a background in dancing is really not a requirement. All such a background brings to the table for us, is an accelerated learning process. We are a team, a family. That is why we do not proceed from one figure to another before everyone is well adjusted to the first one. Do not have any doubts about it.

  • Could you tell us a bit about your club? When was it established? What is the story behind it?

The story of the foundation of our club dates back to 2004. It is not only a club with deep roots. It is also the first active club of the university. The club was established as the Turkish Folk Sciences Club as Gamze Değirmencioğlu, one of the first students of the university and our first president submitted a petition for the establishment of the Turkish Folk Sciences Club, and as the president of the university received the request with approval. In the beginning, the club had just 5 members. Honestly speaking, I am delighted to have reached to the extent we enjoy today.

  • What is the schedule and frequency applied for your activities?

We meet and practice two days a week, for two hours on each occasion. Sometimes, we meet independent of our trainers, and work on the shortcomings of individual members. At other times, we meet just to repeat our work.

  • How many members take an active part in the team? Are all members part of the show team? Or do they just take part in the rehearsals?

At the moment, our team is composed of thirty-three active members. We do not make any distinction between the show team and the rehearsal crew. Any member who shows up regularly at the rehearsals and show a strong command of the figures and the line, certainly gets to take her part on the stage.

  • Do you focus on a specific show, festival etc. during the semester, and work towards it? Or do you have a routine training program?

I should say both, for each year we definitely have two shows. One is for the Nawruz event held at our school. The other is part of the celebrations for May 19th, Ataturk and Youth and Sports Day held in Samsun. With the awareness that we have at least two shows each year, we train regularly and with a certain discipline from the beginning of the year on. That is how we always keep our teams ready. If we receive any other show requests, we gladly accept it and take the stage.

  • Who accompanies and guides your work?

We have three marvelous masters from outside the school, to guide us through our work. Mehmet Ayhan, Gözde Erbatır Ayhan, and Ali Balcı.

  • Could you please tell us a bit about your activities?

Since its establishment, our club took part in 3 international festivals (Czech Republic, Poland, and Romania), and once at Antalya Folklore Festival as a guest of Akdeniz University. In 2007, we organized the 1st TOBB ETÜ Folklore Festival –and this year we began work to hold the second iteration of this event–, and hosted numerous universities from Ankara. In 2008, we hosted the foreign students studying Turkish language in any country around the globe, and organized a team for the dances of Adıyaman region, with a view to promoting our culture worldwide. Since 2014, we have been taking the stage at the May 19th, Ataturk and Youth and Sports Day events held in Samsun by the Ministry of Youth and Sports. We also accompany the Social Solidarity and Assistance Club of our school, and present our shows there. Finally, we work with our sister team from Ankara University, to play at events in Ankara.

  • Most recently you took part in a festival in Romania. Could you please tell us a bit about it? Was it your first international experience?

It was the first experience of our current thirty three members, but speaking of the larger club, it was the 3rd international experience. It was a great event for us. Both the preparations, and the time we spent in Romania were most enjoyable. We got the chance to get direct acquaintance with the cultures and dances of other countries which took part in the festival. We had a busy show schedule throughout the four days of the festival. We had four shows there. It was yet another new experience for many of my friends. I want to thank our school once again for such a great opportunity.

The process which led us to take part in Romania – CIOFF Festival, Baragan’s Flower was a fast one. Even though we had been corresponding with the festival committee for a while, everything got settled with only three weeks to go. In just three weeks, we received the invitation letter, got our first passports or had existing passports renewed, obtained visas, gathered relevant documents, secured leave and budget support from the school, arranged the costumes, and worked hard to prepare the line up and a show of one hour.

It was an interesting voyage during which we bought gas for the bus, and sunflower seeds for the driver. We had our first live-music full rehearsal at a gas station in Bulgaria, on our way. I guess that was the only hardship we encountered within the framework of the festival. Taking the stage on live music is no easy task. Especially if your first rehearsal on live music took place only the day before. Of course we had some unexpected problems, but it certainly was worth the experience.

  • Do you have any upcoming events? What are your plans for the future?

This semester we will be continuing to have rehearsals. But we do not have any plans for any shows in the foreseeable future. Our primary aim is to come up with an arrangement to have regular and numerous shows to reach out to a wider audience. That would be a good experience for both sides. We started working on TOBB ETÜ Folklore Festival, the second of which is being planned to be held next semester. Furthermore, we want to go and take part in further festivals abroad in the coming years. We want to take the stage at TOBB’s fairs, in order to add some color. We decided to organize a competition team, as our instructors encourage us. We want to take part in competitions, with a group of friends who can set aside the time required in the light of the busy schedule at the school.

  • Where do you foresee your club in 1 year’s time?

Even though we are active since 2004, this year saw us get really famous and made us the talk-of-the-town. The festival in Romania of course contributed to that. But we also started to make more active use of our social media accounts. And that made us known better. Cooperation with other clubs at our school, and supporting each other is a great thing. I am really delighted with the interest we received this year. I hope it will grow exponentially over the coming years. I wish our friends get over their prejudices and join among our ranks. For, folklore is our inheritance, and is definitely not boring, as some would think.

  • Do you have anything to add?

Those who wish to join us can reach out to us over our page on Ortam, or via our Instagram page tobbetu_thdt. Thank you for the interview.

  • I want to thank you for your detailed answers. I hope you continued success in the coming semesters as well...

Interview: İpek Aksel – Undergraduate Program in Interior Design and Environment