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Talking Germany

Blog with Peter Craven

Easygoing, but not easy – with Dergin Tokmak

Or: make your own movie!

His face tells one story. His hands another. His face tells you that this is a remarkably easygoing guy. His hands tell you that nothing has been easy. You don’t get to tour for six years with the wonderful Montreal-based Cirque du Soleil unless you are a very special person. But that’s precisely what my latest guest on Talking Germany did – despite the fact that he was struck down by polio in early infancy. Dergin Tokmak is a dancer. And what a dancer!! His hands – gnarled and knotted – bear witness to how tough it has been to pull himself up, to reach the highest level, and to stay there. (–U_yJZtHlc)

DerginKatrin_laechel2His cousin played a key role in the early days of Dergin’s career: “He was like a big brother to me. Charismatic and very good-looking. It was Feyzo who introduced me to the hip-hop dance scene – and to the movie Breakin’, which made a massive impression on me.” So, what’s Feyzo up to these days? “Well, still charismatic. Still good-looking. Perhaps he’s put on just a little bit of weight. But he’s still around. Now it’s his kids who are getting into dancing.”

DerginStudio_PeterMaskeWe talk about the issue of integration – a perennially hot topic. I ask Dergin whether his parents regret making the move to Germany all those years ago, as part of the large influx of Gastarbeiter from Turkey. “No, not all. My parents are immensely grateful for the opportunities that they’ve had, for the life they’ve been able to lead.” But, he adds: “When I look at Feyzo’s kids – well, they’re facing all the same issues as we did back when we were kids. So in a lot of ways we’re going round and round in a circle.” In fact, Dergin has been quoted as saying the following: “My greatest challenge has been that I’m somebody from an immigrant community rather than somebody who’s handicapped.”

DSCF4927But, ever the easygoing optimist, Dergin strongly believes that you can take your life into your own (gnarled and knotted) hands and bend it to your aspirations: “You are your own director. Make your own movie!” And that’s just what he’s done.


May 9, 2014