A free bellydancing spirit on the waves of the Atlantic Ocean


Last month, Melisa Yavaş packed her bags and took her bellydancing set on a cruise across the Atlantic. Booked by MSC Cruises, the London-based dancer joined their Europe-to-Brazil seafaring tour from 8th to 30th November, helping to entertain some 3,000 passengers.

Melisa’s journey started in Venice, where she boarded the MSC cruise liner. The ship then sailed to Malta, Barcelona, Lisbon, Funchal, and Tenerife before setting off across the Atlantic Ocean. A week later, they reached the Americas, docking in various ports across Brazil: Salvador, Rio de Janeiro, and Santos.

The Turkish bellydancer formed part of a diverse range of entertainment on board that encompassed Jazz, Classical, Latin and Turkish music, along with disco, pool parties, theatre shows, and opera. They performed whenever the ship was out at sea – two days during the European cruise and seven days on the Atlantic – to a predominantly European and North American audience, although there was an estimated 300 Turkish passengers on the cruise too.

In the morning, Melisa would host bellydancing classes then perform shows daily in the evening. Initially, she appeared with the Turkish musicians in the ship’s bar. But as news of her Oriental sword display spread the show’s popularity quickly outgrew the space, prompting the entertainment director to move Melisa’s show to the ship’s theatre with its 1,500 capacity, where she would warm up the audience before the opera started.

Of her cruise adventures, Melisa said: “It was a very different experience, especially being out on the Atlantic Ocean where we lost contact with the rest of the earth – just us and the big blue sea. I saw the most incredible stars and met lots of amazing people that I am still in touch with.

“Dancing out at sea was really meaningful for me. I have never done it before. It was strange at first, yet also very beautiful and poignant. Sitting on my balcony I felt like an ocean, free and boundless. Life is an ocean, its waves like the movement in dance, connecting our inner and outer selves…”


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