In 2018, Kahraman had an opportunity to work with real dancers. To coincide with an exhibition at Vielmetter Los Angeles, she organized a performance, US and THEM, with choreography by Ariel Osterweis, vocals by Jessika Kenney, and dance by 14 CalArts students. The performance focused on the idea of “otherness” and the treatment of refugees. It included elements of the Kurdish dance Halparke, which referenced the artist’s own experience as a Kurdish refugee fleeing a humanitarian disaster, which many watched unravel via television screens around the world. “The dancers moving en masse represented both the visibility of refugees and the invisibility of their voice,” Kahraman said. Making this collaborative work, she noted, was “like bringing my army of women to life.”
While Kahraman embraced a new medium, using it as a means of further self-expression, my brief foray into dance wasn’t quite as successful. I was only able to attend one class before gyms and studios around the country began shutting down. I found myself lost among the unfamiliar steps, straining to position my feet in the right direction. I also had to reckon with a lurking voyeuristic desire: More than wanting to learn to move in a certain way, I realized I wanted to watch the rest of the dancers and analyze how they were moving, in a way that I couldn’t when I was trying to remember and execute a series of a steps. I had to acknowledge that observation and consideration, from a remove, is a writer’s purview. And for now, I’m happy with that.