Today we travel in Turkey and we meet one of the greatest organizers of tango events in the world. Aydogan Arkis with his International Istanbul Tango Festival, 10th edition, is a point of reference for all those who want to organize big tango events with teachers, orchestras, international dj. An interview should not be missed, and that makes us dream wonderful Istanbul. Like Aydogan says: "Our locations are unique in the world; We watch Asia from the location where we dance in Europe.We dance at the roof of 2 continents where the distance between them is 200 meters and they have exceptional view of Bosphorus. The artists are the living legends of Tango and the dance level is great'.
1) Tangueros from all over the world know you especially as the organizers of the International Instanbul Tango Festival. What 's the secret of the success of this event?
R: We focus on the satisfaction of the participants. They come here for dancing, learning and Istanbul. The maestros are the best ones and diverse. We provide dancing day and night with worldwide known quality Turkish dancers :-) Also this festival is the only festival where you have Middle Eastern dancers attend heavily as well as European and Pacific countries. And Istanbul, no need to say that it is a lovely never sleeping city and July is the best time to enjoy it.
2) This year we get to the 10th edition. Your passion remains the same?
R: This year we have 10th edition. We and the team have always the same passion. Our team did not loose the passion because we love to see the people smiling. So, we always think what we should do as 'new' every year. Small but memorable things for the participants.
3) The organizer is often one of the less glorious job in the tango world. How do you build a powerful shield to fend off public criticism, the tough demands of the artists, the logistical and practical problems?
R: I always think of that if something goes wrong or right it is because of ourselves. So I do not blame anything other than us. Feedback or criticism is my friends to help me to make a better festival next time. Therefore I do not hate them, but, love them
4) What are the elements that make an event, really big? Internationally big and renowned artists, stunning location, international audience, high level of Tangueros ...?
R: The people all over the world come to any festival for dancing. It is not about bringing crowds in a room and leave them unattended, disregarded, etc. Therefore, I think first is the attitude of the organizers. Second is how you see your participants. Do you regard them as banknote or people who deserve to feel happy since they all come a long way to your festival? If you consider these as your priority than the other factors are just to help you to be bigger. Our locations are unique in the world; We watch Asia from the location where we dance in Europe.We dance at the roof of 2 continents where the distance between them is 200 meters and they have exceptional view of Bosphorus. The artists are the living legends of Tango and the dance level is great.
5) The calendar of tango events is growing busier every day. How do you manage to organize a great event despite the huge offer of milongas, festivals, marathons?
R: Indeed there are a lot of offers for dancing in everywhere. This was totally different 10 years ago. We try to isolate our festival from being a 'Tango Party' but make it a dancing and skill building event. Although the workshop participations are declining in many events our festival still attracts participants to the workshops. We could make the festival a summer-sun-sea-fun festival like a party but we do not prefer that.
6) How would you rate your relationship with the artists you work with ( Maestros, Tangodj, Orchestra...)? Would you rather work exclusively with you to festivals or events in your area?
R: I like the artists to work with only with my organization in my city. For other cities I cannot ask exclusivity. I have helped many organizers in different cities to organize something with the artists who are in my festival casting.
7) What is the event or issue that you love more? Who are the artists ( Maestros, Orchestra, DJ) with whom you have a closer relationship?
R: We are always friends with almost all the artists we work together, today or in the past. I was in Buenos Aires in March. I have meet artists there with whom we had worked once in 2008. I know Chicho since 1998. We have excellent relations with other artists.
8)What gives you more satisfaction in organizing an event? What makes you most angry?
R: What makes me the happiest is a note saying 'I was in Istanbul Tango Festival in July and I have enjoyed a lot'. What makes me the most angry is the people who does not respect the work behind the big organizations. Who does not check the history of the events but talk a lot about the events. I cannot help myself to interfere with the discussions where people loose justice.
9) Which artists would you have wanted to work there but you never got?
R: I wish I could have Gustavo Naveira in one of our festivals. We are very good friends with him but could not manage that due to many reasons.
10) What advice would you give to those who would like to organize for the first time a big tango event?
R: Do not rush. Understand the people's expectation. Put yourself into their shoes and ask what would make you happier. Then implement it.
11) Is it possible to create events in synergy with other organizers? Do ya like attend events not yours?
R: I attend to events not mine. It is the only way to enjoy tango as a dancer. In my last month I was in Vienna, Athens, Belgrade and Ankara participating to the other organizers' events. In other ways bring a synergy if you organize events together with other organizers. For example the last year we organized a Grand Milonga of Turkey with the participation of 34 different schools. It was simply great.
12) Which event organized by others, you wanted to organize?
R: Everything that I wanted to organize I did it.
13) Do you prefer Festival, Marathons, or both? Why?
R: I prefer both. Both have different tastes. I do not like to be against the festival, only since its name is 'festival'. As long as I can dance day and night during the festival (like Istanbul Tango Festival :-) ) I am happy. The same is true for marathons. As long as I can get good rest and the food I am happy to as much as I can handle
14) How would you rate the level of the great tango events in Turkey? Best or lower than Europe? In your opinion, apart from Argentina, which is the place where you can dance better in the world?
R: I think the events in Turkey, especially the ones in Istanbul are very attractive. These events attract many people into its gala milongas. For example in Istanbul Tango Festival around 1500 people dance its gala night. There are pros and cons of being such big. Being big does not mean that event is good but I think I would rate Istanbul events are close to the best ones in Europe, since Turkey has a great quality of dancers. I want to dance in all locations in the world. One can find good dancers in everywhere.
15) Do you think there are some "groups or gang"in the tangoworld? Do ya think their presence can be decisive for the success or failure of an event?
R: I do not think that a group of person could kill an event alone or make it fly. But there are some people whose presence may create low energy during the event. I meet couple of them in some different events. I was not impacted but I felt the tension in the air. To be honest, I believe that these 'gangs' will be dismissed out by the communities in time.
16) What are the big news of this year's festival?
R: The big news for this year is about the celebration of our 10 th edition. Therefore we are inviting the living legends of Tango like Zotto, Chicho, los Veliz. We also will have two great orchestras like Solo Tango and Hyperion. As the time of this interview we gave 41 countries registered and the biggest thing from the festival is that there are no other festivals in the world hosting such a colorful participation from all regions. If you earn to dance with a follower from Saudi Arabia for example you should be in this great event. We also have a legendary DJ. He is known as "Super Sabino" and he is really super!
17) Four reasons to come to Istanbul Tango Festival
R: Exceptional city, Unique casting, Warm and great dancers, organization focused on your happiness