Last funambulist teaches his art to young student
With an aim to keep the art of tightrope walking alive, a 72-year-old last surviving funambulist of Türkiye has been giving lessons to a student for three years to pass down the art to future generations.
Though Özdemir Turan, whose passion started at the age of 12, studied dentistry at his family’s request, he returned to tightrope walking two years after graduating.
Participating in special shows and festivals for 60 years and continuing to perform tightrope walking without a break, Turan can no longer climb on the rope due to the complaint of dizziness that started three years ago.
Turan, who did not want the art to die with him, decided to pass down all he knew about the art to enthusiast Mehmet Emin Çelikel, a student of Boğaziçi University. He has been teaching him for the last three years, the time since he could not perform anymore.
“We met Mehmet Emin before the pandemic when he saw one of my shows. Then a friendship developed between us,” Turan explained.
“He [Çelikel] improved himself quite a lot and made significant progress. He is enthusiastic and talented. In the future, he will take the burden off my shoulder and take this job to the future, and I am sure that he will also raise students,” Turan expressed.
Çelikel said that after watching Turan’s performance, he decided to do rope acrobatics but stated that his friends were skeptical about his decision.
Celikel believes his body is fit for tightrope walking as he did sports such as swimming and gymnastics, saying that he does not find it very hard to balance his body on the rope.
“Özdemir is conditioning me slowly. He did not allow me to walk on the rope for a year. I just watched him,” Çelikel said while explaining about his training.
“I started walking on the rope at a level close to the ground, and then we gradually increased the height of the rope. It is a matter of pride to be able to continue this art,” he added.
Noting that he aims to improve tightrope walking by using different techniques, Çelikel stated that he seeks suggestions on balancing from students of the Physics Department at his university.
“In particular, I am researching materials we can use and methods of installing rope. Maybe I can improve these systems in the future and make them more different and continue my performances this way,” Çelikel added.