Dutch choreographer refuses Turkish prize to protest jail sentences given to journalists in Turkey
ANKARAA Dutch choreographer has refused an honorary award from Turkey’s Directorate General of State Opera and Ballet in order to protest jail sentences given to journalists in Turkey.
Hans van Manen, 83, refused the “Choreographer of the Century” award citing the “negative developments” in the areas of press freedom and human rights.
“I can’t accept the prize as long as the newspapers in Turkey are being silenced and the journalists are being jailed,” van Manen told NPO Radio 1, while adding that he disapproved of the detention of Dutch columnist Ebru Umar in Turkey in April for “insulting” President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Van Manen said he was not trying to give off any signal with the refusal, or looking for attention – especially any possible victimization of his dance group or the prize’s management.
The ballet performance titled “5 Tangos” choreographed by van Manen will be presented in the 7th International Opera and Ballet Festival in Istanbul between July 2 and 16.
Meanwhile, the art advisor for the general manager of Turkey’s Directorate General of State Opera and Ballet, Mehmet Balkan, expressed his sadness over the rejection of the award, saying that he hopes to work with van Manen in the future.
“The value of his contribution to dance cannot be measured. We hope to work with him in the future in other ways,” Balkan told NRC.
This is not the first time van Manen has rejected an award for political reasons. He previously refused an honorary award given by Austria in order to protest former rightist leader Jorge Haider.
He also rejected an award by Greece in 1968 as a reaction to the military junta and Portugal State Award in order to protest former Prime Minister Oliveira Salazar.
Being an internationally recognized artist, van Manen has been choreographing the Dutch National Ballet and Dance Theater and has won plenty of international awards.