Of course it is great when I can present new choreographers on Interview en L’air! I am very excited to present Ihsan Rustem or Rusty as his friends call him. I first met Rusty in Munich. I was new in the company and he was visiting friends at Gartnerplatz, his former work place. Rusty has eyes that look like multi colored glass. You cant really say what color they are (kind of like Amanda Bennet) They are very striking. I think I did a double take the first time I saw him and I could see that it caught his attention. Rusty sticks out in a crowd. You can see that he is confident, intelligent and maybe even… a bit louder than the others. (But who am I to talk.) Rusty has a great energy and a fantastic sense of humor. He always gives it straight. I love that about him. Over the years we would see each other galas or special events. He is a great dancer. especially with his amazing partner Salome Martins. What a duo. When I moved to Basel we got to see more of each other and now he stopped dancing!!! Can you believe it?! To pursue his choreographic dreams, which are now his reality.


Born in London, Ihsan Rustem studied from 1998-2000 at the Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance, during in which time he was a member of the National Youth Dance Company. His professional performance career began in the UK with Matthew Bourne’s Adventures in Motion Pictures; in Germany at Ballet Theater Munich (Staatstheater am Gärtnerplatz); Introdans in the Netherlands; and in Switzerland as a founding member of both the Stadt Theater Bern Ballett (Cathy Marston) and the Tanz Luzerner Theater. Rusty has worked with many of today’s leading choreographers including Mats Ek, Jiří Kylián, Hans van Manen and Paul Lightfoot and Sol León; has originated roles in works by Matthew Bourne, Alexander Ekman, Wayne McGregor, Hofesh Shechter, Stijn Celis, Guilherme Bothello, Cayetano Soto, Felix Landerer; and has performed further works by William Forsythe & Twyla Tharp, amongst others.


He works extensively with and regularly assists choreographer Patrick Delcroix, and since creating his first work for the Rambert School in 1999, Rusty has choreographed for numerous organizations including Hubbard Street Dance Chicago 2, Northwest Dance Project USA, Istanbul State Ballet MDT, Lucerne Dance Theater, BYU Contemporary Dance Theater & Theater Ballet Utah USA, Würzburg Ballet, Interdans Festival, Palucca Schule Dresden and Holland’s ArtEz Dansacademie. Rusty regularly teaches for companies and universities internationally. He was named the winner of the Sadler’s Wells Global Dance Contest in 2011, for his work State of Matter (Northwest Dance Project , which also received the Publikumspreis (Audience Choice Award) at the 25th International Competition for Choreographers in Hannover, Germany. Rusty was a 2014 recipient of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago’s International Commissioning Project.



I admire Rusty decision to pursue choreography. I think it takes courage. Sometimes you meet people and you just know they will be a big talent. That’s Rusty for me. His energy is that good. I know one thing for sure, whatever Rusty decides to do he will be great. Thank you Rusty for your inspiration


When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up? Did you always want to do what you’re doing now?

When I was a child I wanted to be a pilot. Then a policeman. Then Jane Fonda. In that order. Go figure. Dance found me a little later when I was 11 or 12.

Rusty’s Favorite Things

Favorite Things to eat?

Bulgur Köfte (ask any Turkish Cypriot!)

Favorite Books?

The ‘Tales of the City’ series by Armistead Maupin. I aspired to be the missing whimsical character at 28 Barbary Lane.

Favorite Movies?

‘Beautiful Thing’ for the memories. Fatih Akin’s ‘Auf der anderen Seite’ (The Edge of Heaven). Pedro Almodovar’s ‘Talk to Her’, ‘Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown’ & ‘All About My Mother’ for the pure magic of the great director and the characters he creates.

Favorite Dance Piece or Show/Musical or both?

Cabaret – ‘Mein Herr’ Liza/Fosse 1972. Love.Kylian’s ‘Petit Mort’ will always hold a special place in my heart, since it inspired me greatly as a young student. I used to watch it over and over. The quality! It still gives me goosebumps.

I like dancers who…

experience rather than perform.

I am afraid of…

Heights. I scream. Real loud.

Something you like to do other than dancing?

Well you ask me this at a crossroads, since I recently made the decision to stop dancing in order to focus on my other passion, which is creating my own work. I had a contract in my hand since the age of 17 and it was becoming more and more difficult to juggle a full time job with choreographic commitments, though I was very grateful for the support of Kathleen McNurney at the Tanz Luzerner Theater for making these creations possible and nurturing the transition. So I’d say, today, it’s choreographing and working with dancers in another capacity. I also love to teach.

One of the happiest moments in your life?

Coming full circle back to London in 2012 after more than a decade away, and having my family be able to experience my choreographic work for the first time, presented by Sadler’s Wells during the Olympic Arts Festival with the Northwest Dance Project. Just as wonderful and hilarious was seeing 40 Turks, many who have never been in a theater before, bringing their own wine and crisps to the performance. Ha!. I died! Then laughed out loud.

A question you want to know the answer to:

Why don’t I have Sylvie’s feet?

A piece of advice for aspiring artists?

Don’t kiss ass. It’s not necessary. It will only come back to bite you in the ass. Be proud of your route. Hard work will always be recognized. And have fun!

Photo Journal



Hubbard Street Dance 2, ‘Long Story Short’ by Ihsan Rustem. Photography Todd Rosenberg

‘If Walls Could Talk’ – choreography Patrick Delcroix, Tanz Luzerner Theater. Photography Ida Zenna

‘Yet to Tell’ choreography Cayetano Soto, with Salome Martins. Photography Ida Zenna

Photography Ingo Höhn

‘Heroin.e’ Tanz Luzerner Theater, Salome Martins & Rachel Lawrence. Photography Ingo Höhn


Choreography Georg Reischl, Tanz Luzerner Theater. Photography Ingo Höhn

‘Hands Head’ choreography Andre Mesquita. With Chiara Dal Borgo. Photography Ingo Höhn

‘Bitter Sweet’ with Davidson Farias & Paula Alonso. Photography Ida Zenna

‘Drop of Doubt’ choreography Felix Landerer. Photography Ida Zenna

Northwest Dance Project. Photography Jim Lykins

For more information on Rusty please visit www.ihsanrustem.com Have you worked with Rusty? Help me say thank you by sharing your stories in the comments below. Thank YOU for reading!

[infobox] Show your support and Join over 950 Interview En L’air subscribers! Thank you! [/infobox]

Main photo by: Adrian Weinbrecht