Turkey's last high-wire artist keeps tradition alive in his circus

Published 26.06.2016 23:43
Updated 26.06.2016 23:44
Turkey's last high-wire artist keeps tradition alive in his circus

Özdemir Turan, 66, is one of the very last Turkish hire-wire artists trying to continue the art of high-wire walking at his "canbazhane" (circus) in Istanbul's Beylikdüzü district. "I am over 60 now and do not want to see wire walking as a fading art form. I am one of the very last wire walking performers in Turkey," Turan said. With the initiatives of Beylikdüzü Municipality and Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu, Turan revives an authentic circus atmosphere, which used to be much more popular almost 40 years ago. "During Ramadan, families with children come to watch my performances in the evenings. I do not know how many more years I can continue this profession but I devoted my life to wire walking," Turan said. The high-wire artist uses a pole for balance while he walks on the wire.

Born in 1950 in Istanbul's Laleli district, Turan started to work with magician Farabi from Thessaloniki in Şehzadebaşı, Fatih at the age of 12. When they were on a tour in the southwestern city of Muğla, Turan was inspired by high-wire artists. He spent days and nights to master the skill and when he returned he asked to work with senior high-wire walkers. Although he was studying dentistry at the time, Turan's passion and excitement never left him, even today.

He said that in Turkish the world "cambaz," referring to wire walkers, is written incorrectly as it should be "canbaz," deriving its origin from Persian language. "It means someone that risks his life," he said. However, the discussion still continues on its definition.

Turan said that the art of wire walking came to Turkey from central Asia and later became popular in other countries. He said wire walking performances attract audiences mostly during Ramadan.

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