HeadshotAlmina Karya Odabasi is a Teaching and Research Assistant at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. She is presenting a PechaKucha at EPIC2022 titled “Show Must Go On: How Can Ballet Help Us Strengthen Ethnographic Practice?”

Tell us about yourself in one sentence.

A newbie ethnographer and a long-time dancer working on embodiment; a curious mind and an energetic soul who lives to create and loves to eat!

Describe your presentation in less than 10 words.

A playful attempt to marry balletic resilience and ethnographic practice

Why did you decide to present this topic?

I thought I wouldn’t be dancing anymore when I started my first “real” job…not as much anyway. This was partially true as a full-time job required a decent number of hours sitting down, especially in academia. But little did I know that my long-time hobby turned into my superpower. I realized that these two very different worlds co-existed, even coincided. So, Goffman was indeed right, the world really is a stage! Dance, then became more than a focus but also a method for me. I held onto the teachings of dance, especially ballet, upon encountering challenges in my professional life, even in the worst times we went through in the past 2 years. So, I decided to share my story to inspire others to think outside of the box when dealing with adversities.

Why did you choose the PechaKucha format for your presentation?

I initially thought what I had to say won’t fill a paper but then starting to draft my script, I fell in love with this format. Saying less is more might be a cliche, but I really believe the right image or a few effective words can move mountains. Now I think of the PechaKucha as a 6-7 minute verbal ‘choreography’ with brief storytelling. It asks you to be concise, yet creative and informative.

How do you prepare to speak in public? What’s your process?

I am quite experienced in performing in front of large crowds. However, using my words to do this is still a new experience that I need to get used to. I am relying on knowing my material by heart (PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE) but also leaving some room for improvisation due to the nature of a live audience.

What was your process for writing the proposal?

It actually happened quite fast. I wrote and submitted the proposal in just 2 days! I did my master’s thesis research in a ballet company when COVID first hit the world, so I was already doing a lot of self-reflection back then. When I started to structure my insights into a PechaKucha format for this conference, the ideas flowed…I thought it was a novel and thought-provoking perspective, so I focused on making bold yet supportable claims while creating a personal narrative. Of course, it had some flaws, and the stone needed to be sculpted to become a statue which I mentioned in my proposal. Currently, I am working on that with the help of my curator.

Is this your first EPIC conference? What are you looking forward to at EPIC2022?

Presenting at my first EPIC conference is quite exciting (and nerve-wracking). I am also volunteering during the conference, so even more excited to know some of the ‘backstage practices’. I believe learning is an activity of co-creation, so I am definitely looking forward to learning, witnessing creativity, hearing different perspectives, listening from experts from all around the world talking about new insights….and also meeting people in-person after the past 2 years!

If you could recommend a book/article/podcast to our community, what would you recommend?

The Art and Science of Dance Movement Therapy: Life is Dance. Also, a poem.