Fire of Anatolia leaves Aspendos Arena
Mustafa Erdoğan, who leads arguably one of Turkey’s most famous dance troupes, believes his household name group can no longer perform at a venue near the Aspendos Ancient Theater, located in the southern province of Antalya’s Serik district, due to its landlord’s high rent demand.
The Fire of Anatolia general art director said that they would have to empty the venue, where they have been performing for 11 years, due to the landlord’s demand which, he stresses, contradicts their contract.
Erdoğan said that the Fire of Anatolia shows started 18 years ago in the Aspendos Ancient Theater but stopped in 2008 when the restoration of the 2,000-year-old ancient theater was brought to the agenda. Then they established a 5,000-person stage on an area where they rented in the Belkıs neighborhood. Stating that the Fire of Anatolia had been performing on this stage, called Aspendos Arena, for 11 years, Erdoğan said that they were in danger of being evicted due to rental dispute.
He held a press conference at the weekend with the participation of locals and the Fire of Anatolia performers, saying that Aspendos Arena was built without giving any damage to the ancient theater in Aspendos.
Emphasizing that they have welcomed millions of spectators since 2008, Erdoğan said that the Fire of Anatolia was the first among the activities that should be followed by every foreign guest coming to Antalya.
Erdoğan explained that they rented a place that used to be a cornfield and started working there.
“We came to a deadlock because of the irreconcilable attitude of the landowner. No suggestion was received by the landowner. He filed an eviction case and we will face a hearing in February. ‘If the aim is to do agriculture, let’s purchase the land next to us and give it to you,’ we said, but he did not accept. We have always come up with unacceptable demands. The Culture and Tourism Ministry, Antalya Metropolitan Municipality and Serik Municipality have information about the status of this theater. A solution can be found. The solution may be like this: We want this place to be declared a place of culture and arts and become permanent. Not only the Fire of Anatolia uses this venue but this place is also an advantage for Antalya tourism and Turkish tourism,” he said.
Since the beginning of the process, Erdoğan said people of the region support them and they were very upset about the situation. He said that they held talks with the ministry and the municipalities and asked for a solution.
“This is our home. We are dancing here. There are people who come here from Istanbul, Ankara and İzmir. We have friends who live and have settled in Serik, Antalya and came here only for this job. Antalya is like our center. We have been performing here for six months a year. We have been performing all over the world in rest of the year. We currently have promotions in Paris, Chile and China. It is really embarrassing to encounter such a thing in our own country. We used to extend the rent agreement for five years. The landowner does not want to compromise. This structure is also not easy to move. There is an investment of 12-13 million Turkish Liras here,” Erdoğan said.
The leading dancer and ballet instructor of the Fire of Anatolia, Can Ocak, said that they had been taking the stage at the Aspendos Arena for 12 years. “As you see, this place is an open venue. They are trying to take away this pleasure from us.”
One of the leading dancers, Mine Olçum Sydorovych said that Aspendos Arena was very important for them, adding, “There is hundreds of dancers’ effort in this arena. We established friendship and brotherhood with local people. We spend six months together. We have been living together for 12 years. We have friends who moved their houses to this city because we work here. Our children were born in this theater. I have two children. They were born in the theater of the Fire of Anatolia. I took stage even when I was pregnant. My children danced on this stage. I want to see them on this stage, too. We make a great contribution to the region. We learned to live here. It is not right to destroy this place.”
Locals said that they earned a living there and that they wanted to continue working there. They said that they would do their best to prevent the closure of the venue.