‘Dance Steps’ takes listeners on a musical voyage on Turkey’s state radio
“Dans Adımları” (Dance Steps), broadcast on Turkey’s state radio station TRT Radyo-3, has been taking listeners on a kaleidoscopic journey through the history of classical music every week since the start of 2018.
Written and produced by Divin Gençoğlan, a 23-year-old musicology student at the Istanbul State Conservatory at Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University, “Dance Steps” is aired at 21:30 every Tuesday evening. With each episode a bite-sized 30 minutes long, the program is moving chronologically from the Renaissance era to the 20th century, advancing “step by step” every week.
Despite her youth, the prodigious Gençoğlan already has experience in radio. Throughout last year, her first program “Notadan Öyküye” (From Music Notes to Stories) charmed TRT Radyo-3 listeners every Sunday morning, presenting works of orchestral music that blended sound, words and images.
Gençoğlan is particularly fond of Ludwig van Beethoven and the Romantic-era Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg, whose lively “Rigaudon” dance from the “Holberg Suite” serves as the theme music to “Dance Steps.” But the program presents a rich musical smorgasbord across many centuries.
The series started with little-known works from the Renaissance era, and Gençoğlan was pleased to move on swiftly the more popular Baroque era, mainly from the 17th century - and composers such as JS Bach and George Frideric Handel. This week’s program featured two suites by the English Baroque composer Henry Purcell.
“The format of the program allows me to focus on a more specific aspect of the classical canon every week, without the pressure to encompass everything. Every week we focus on a different period. I want to inspire listeners by creating a historical and aural memory for them with each program,” Gençoğlan told the Hürriyet Daily News.
“The Baroque period is particularly rich for orchestral music and especially forms of dance music. But ‘Dance Steps’ showcases important and perhaps surprising musical forms from every age, right up to the modern era,” she said.
Istanbul may not be known overseas as a premium classical music capital, but Gençoğlan is a keen concert-goer in the city, soaking up ideas and inspiration at concerts large and small. Her academic work also provides abundant material for each different program, sometimes sending it in unexpected directions.
“I’ve always been interested in music history. My university studies give me very useful pointers on which pieces and which composers will work well in the program each week. In addition to selecting well-known composers, I also try to give space to less well-known but equally interesting figures. While researching the program I discovered the works of the little-known Italian composer Francesca Caccini and decided to feature them in an earlier episode. Ideally, if listeners like what they hear I hope they will be inspired to explore further themselves,” she said.
The program may be broadcast in Turkish, but as Gençoğlan says: “Music is a universal language.”
* Listen to “Dance Steps” every Tuesday evening at 21.30. Stream TRT Radyo-3 online here.