Thursday, 27 February 2014

Council funding for Cambridge women to take part in Turkish bellydance project

Women at a Kush workshop last year at London's prestigious Sadler's Wells


Cambridge City Council is helping local women to take part in Kush: a unique series of workshops that aim to “inform, invigorate and empower” them through the power of bellydance. The council is funding the five-week course created by top Turkish dancer Melisa Yavaş, which she will run in Cambridge in conjunction with Balik Arts, a respected multi-cultural arts foundation. The weekly Kush sessions will start on Wednesday 5th March, and are open to women of all ages and backgrounds who want to have some fun and keep fit, while enjoying new cultural experiences with other women in the local community.

Kush (derived from the Turkish word for “bird”) was launched last year by Melisa Yavaş at the prestigious Sadler’s Wells. Informed by her work and psychotherapy studies, Melisa aims to help women to seek their own freedom and inner peace through dance and complementary activities such as yoga and sound therapy.

Kush founder Melisa Yavaş
Melisa said: “It’s great the council is supporting this innovative project. Bellydancing is no longer the preserve of those living in Turkey and the Middle East. Its popularity is growing worldwide. It celebrates womanhood: we dance, laugh, and live in the ‘here and now. Any women wanting to make new friends and enjoy new cultural experiences should definitely come along – you will leave on a natural high.”

She will lead each of the Kush workshops in Cambridge, accompanied by renowned percussionist Sallam Al-Sheikh who will provide live rhythms, while local teacher Rosanna Gordon will run the meditation and yoga part of the workshops.

The workshops each have different themes. The Cambridge series start and end with Relationship, with Acceptance, Womb and Naturally Balanced Female in between. These home in on a different aspect of the feminine being; women leave sessions feeling more enlightened, invigorated and empowered through their improved understanding of, and relationship with, their minds, bodies and each other.

Each session starts with a group circle and introductions followed by a warm-up, then high-energy Oriental dancing related to the theme, before concluding with a cool down through meditation and yoga.

London-based Balik Arts has a strong track record working with the Britain’s Turkish and Kurdish communities through a range of arts projects, especially film. Director Yesim Guzelpinar said: “We’ve been expanding our activities into Cambridge over the last year, and felt that Kush is a fantastic project to reach women of different backgrounds.”

The workshops all take place at the Mill Road Baptist Church in the city centre. They start at 5pm and each session lasts for 1.5 hours. There is a maximum of fifteen people in any one workshop. There is a £3 charge per workshop or £10 for all five. Advance booking is highly recommended. No previous experience of bellydancing, yoga or meditation is required, but attendees should be in relatively good health. For more information, visit the Kush Project website or email  

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