The Kush Project was launched by renowned Turkish dancer Melisa Yavas in February 2013 to help women find their natural rhythm in life. This unique series of women-only workshops harnesses the power of bellydancing and meditation with complementary activities, such as yoga and sound therapy, to enlighten, invigorate and empower women by improving their understanding of and relationship with their minds, bodies and others.
Oriental dancing (also known as bellydancing) is growing in popularity all over the world, along with a desire to find inner peace. Melisa knows first-hand how bellydancing can benefit people through her dance therapy work with the wider community, from bellydance classes for women to working with special needs children.
The Kush Project draws on Melisa’s professional and academic experience in psychotherapy, combined with her ethnic Turkish background, dancing career and interests in spirituality.
Kush workshops are tailored to suit specific programmes, locations and needs. They can run as an individual two hour session, or over half-a-day, Kush can form part of a weekend of related activities, or as a series of weekly hour-long workshops.
Each Kush session has a theme, such as Relationship or Acceptance, which is both practical and inspirational. Combining fun with feminine energy, women connect with their bodies and feelings, as well as interacting positively with each other. There is a physical wellbeing aspect (dance) and learning about the techniques for core bellydancing moves, together with meditation and other inner peace activities that are related to the specific theme. Those attending will leave the session feeling empowered individually and collectively.
Click on the headers below to learn about forthcoming Kush workshops and to reserve your place. Follow the Kush Project on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/KushProject
Kush Founder Melisa Yavas
Melisa Yavas is one of the UK’s best known Turkish dancers, her reputation forged through her exhilarating Oriental-infused performances and incredible sword dances.
Wearing stunning designer costumes handmade by Bella or Eman Zaki, Melisa’s beautiful dances are packed full of emotion and drama aided by her expert use of the cane, Isis wings, shamadan (candelabra), silk fans, veil and her most famous prop, the sword. Her dancing is steeped in the Oriental and Romany traditions of Egypt and Turkey, blended with contemporary styles to form unique interpretations that she adapts to suit different environments and artist collaborations.
Her ability to draw audiences in to her performances, whether they are families, children, corporate types, celebrities or socialites, makes her a highly sought-after dancer. She has performed solo at concerts, festivals, fashion shows and fundraising events, as well as for private functions across the UK and internationally. Her private bookings cover special occasions such as weddings, hen nights and birthday parties, having performed for the likes of supermodel Naomi Campbell, entertainer Julian Clary, and female royalty from the Middle East.
In 2013, Melisa launched the Kush Project, an innovative experience to empower women and help them ‘find their natural rhythm’ through bellydancing and complementary activities such as yoga and sound therapy. Her first series of workshops took place at Sadler’s Wells in London.
For more information about Melisa, visit www.melisayavas.com.
The Kush Experts
Each Kush workshop is run by bellydancer Melisa Yavas, as Oriental dance is central to the Kush philosophy. In addition, every session will also include a guest Kush expert whose unique skills are relevant to the workshop theme. To date, this has included meditation and yoga instructors, sound therapists and percussionists.
Our guest Kush experts are all current practitioners, recognised and respected in their fields. They include:
- Alex Hanly (www.alexhanly.com), an accredited yoga instructor through The British Wheel of Yoga. She has trained at the Satyananda School of Yoga in India and studied Ashtanga Yoga with guru Sri K Pattabhi Jois, during which time she mastered the art of ‘Purusha’ or trance, where physical exertion matches the flow of incoming energy.
- Elif Clarke, a fully qualified cognitive behavioural therapist (CBT) and Chartered Psychologist. An experienced yoga teacher specialising in the Sivananda style, she integrates mindfulness and other types of meditation into her professional and personal practice to promote self awareness and peace in herself and in her clients.
- Juliet Morell (www.londonfieldsyoga.co.uk) is an experienced yoga teacher specialising in the Sivananda style.
- Laura Valenti (www.harmonicinspiration.com) is a qualified sound therapist helping those on “a path to empowerment, awakening and transformation”. She is a member of the Sound Therapy Association (STA), the Institute for Complementary Medicine (ICNM), the British Register of Complementary Practitioners (BRCP) and the London Drum Circle.
- Guy Schalom (www.guyschalom.com) has over 20 years of musical experience and is described by Songlines magazine as “one of the UK’s leading percussionists”.
- Sallam Al-Sheikh is a professional percussionist and teacher. Classically trained from Syria, he regularly performs with the UK’s leading dancers and at major cultural events and festivals.
The Kush Project is back with a new series of workshops in Cambridge. Funded by Cambridge City Council and organised by local community arts group Balik Arts, the bellydance-led workshops will launch on 5th March and run weekly on Wednesdays for five weeks. They are open to women of all ages and backgrounds who want to have some fun and keep fit, while allowing them to meet other women in the local community.
Kush offers a safe and inclusive space for women to come together, where they can be open about their feelings, while more accepting and less judgmental of themselves and others. Central to the Kush philosophy is the power of bellydance, helping women to fly high and seek their own freedom through dance and inner peace.
Each workshop will be led by Kush founder Melisa Yavas, with renowned drummer Sallam Al-Sheikh providing live rhythms, and Cambridge-based Rosanna Gordon the meditation and yoga instructions. Each session starts with a group circle and introductions, followed by a warm-up, then high-energy Oriental dancing, and finally a cool down with meditation and related therapies.
Relationship will form the start and end of the Cambridge series of Kush workshops, with Acceptance, Womb and Naturally Balanced Female in between. Each theme homes 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.
While not compulsory, women are encouraged to attend all five workshops. Each session lasts for 1.5 hours and there is a maximum of fifteen people in any one workshop. Advance booking is highly recommended. No previous experience of bellydancing, yoga or meditation is required, but attendees should be in relatively good health – if in doubt please seek medical advice before attending.
Workshop venue: Mill Road Baptist Church, 178 Mill Road, Cambridge CB1 3LP
Dates: 05/03/2014; 05/03/2014; 12/03/2014; 19/03/2014; 26/03/2014, and 02/04/2014
Times: 17.00 to 18.30pm – please arrive 15 minutes before the start time, so you can be ready to start on time.
Dress: loose comfortable clothing for stretching and easy movement: bring a few layers, to take off when you are warm and to put back on when you cool down e.g. during meditation
Entrance: £3 per workshop, £10 for all five.
Info and workshop tickets: via Balik Arts. Email them on firstname.lastname@example.org or text/call 07989 401 504
- Melisa Yavas: she is one of the UK’s best known Turkish dancers, her reputation forged through her exhilarating Oriental-infused performances and incredible sword dances She is also the founder of the Kush Project. For more information, visit: www.melisayavas.com
- Balik Arts: established in 1999, the group has driven a wide-range of local, regional and international art and educational projects. In 2012, the group expanded its activities to Cambridge. For more information, visit: www.balikarts.org.uk or www.facebook.com/balikarts
- Rosanna Gordon: an experienced yoga teacher based in Cambridge. For more information, visit: www.rosannagordon.com
The Kush Project in Cambridge is supported by Balik Arts and Cambridge City Council