Heidi Trautmann

Mar 6, 7 and 8 - “Shadow of Darkness” with the 'Dance of Cyprus'


By Heidi Trautmann


Finally we hear of them again! They come out with their show “Shadows of Darkness” on 6, 7 and 8 March 2014 at 20.30 hrs at  the Turk Maarif College - Rauf Raif DENKTAS Congress Hall at Nicosia. I have seen the production some years ago in 2009 at the Girne Amphitheatre and now Tanju Hastunç,  the director,  has brought out a new production. The one I saw then was about the drug scene of today and the interrelation with traditions of yesterday.

In 2006 I have interviewed Tanju after “Dance of Cyprus” was on a fantastically successful tour with some shows.  Who is behind this success I thought and went to find out. He was somebody who just loved dance, folk dance and he loved the legends of Cyprus and so he combined the two.  Learn how Tanju  Hastunç’s  career had started:


“….As a boy, Tanju Hastunc didn't like dancing at all. But that all changed when he was 13. “One day my friends persuaded me to come with them and see for myself what it was all about. Very reluctantly I followed them. And I fell head over heels in love with folk dancing,”  said Tanju of the love affair with dance that has lasted throughout his life.

Tanju was born in Nicosia in 1961 and still lives and works there. His teacher, when he started dancing in 1974,  was Mehmet Levent, the first folk dance teacher in North Cyprus “and the best one” according to Tanju. In those days there were hardly any folk dance groups. Tanju said: “When I was called to do my military service, six years later, I missed my dancing and I obtained  permission from my commander to teach folk dance in elementary schools. It is very important to start training early in life, as it is with all sorts of disciplines, and at the same time the students learn something about their country's history and traditions which is also part of the teaching.”

Soon Tanju had his own group, the Famagusta Folk Dance Group. Among his students were young people who, years later,  went on to continue his passion and establish new groups.

Tanju commented: “Now we may say that there are groups in more or less all villages and cities of North Cyprus.”

“We did not have our own stage yet, but performed, danced and practised on school stages all over the island. All the while I kept my mind open for a change, a change in style and teaching methods, you need to develop if you want to be creative.”

When Tanju started working in the Ministry of Youth and Sports,  it was to him to plan cultural events and in 1987 they opened the first International Folk Dance Festival with international groups having come here for 15 years now.

“In the 1990s I began to have a dream which slowly became clearer with my research and studies of other dance groups worldwide. I wanted to go towards dance theatre: a story danced, a story told by dancing, no words, no songs. I think that dance theatre is the most difficult art form as you have to talk with your body only,” he said.

In that time he started to write scenarios for the dance theatre of his imagination, based on the history and legends of Cyprus, also based on some stories written by Ali Nesim,  and in 1996 he presented, for the first time, the scenario for today's established “The Dance of Cyprus” to the Ministry of Culture. But it was rejected, as they did not have a budget big enough to support the project. “I thought things over and told them, ...'give me as much as you can and I will start with small projects',” the scenarios of which he had ready in his pockets.

“With three pieces we went off and presented dance theatre to the public. The titles were This is our Homeland in-spite of Everything, The Epic of Hasan Bulliler and Our Women from the Village to the City -  pieces we also took to France,  where we were invited to participate in the 1998 International Pyrenees Festival. We then travelled up and down the country with our group -  it was a great experience.”


By now they had introduced modern dance techniques and Tanju and his group were on their way to the big project,  the scenario of which was still in the background, untouched. He said: “In the year 2000 we finally obtained our own stage from the Culture Department, which made things much easier for training the many students who came from schools and universities and we were proud to announce the birth of “Çağdaş Halk Danslar Derneği” (The Contemporary Folk Dances Association)

The “Dance of Cyprus” was first released in 2004 with 40 dancers, and was welcomed with great enthusiasm. By the end of 2005 the show had been on stage 20 times. In 2005, it was awarded the annual TRNC Culture Prize and also the Green Olive Art Prize – seen as a confirmation of the teams' wholehearted input of work and love for the project itself and the love for their country.

In 2006, there were seven shows in Girne/Kyrenia castle…….” End of excerpt.


Tanju is a prolific man, he also organises the Whirling Dervish Dances in Nicosia at the Bedesten; there are several shows daily.


Ticket Prices will be 25 TL.

Telephone: 0542 881 0303



Tanju Hastunç
Tanju Hastunç

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