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Turkish dancer features in London's Nour Festival

The month-long event showcases contemporary artistic talent from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) to London audiences. Melisa will be part of an inspiring evening of conversation and music called ‘An Arab Spring?’, which takes place at the Dash Cafe in West London on Thursday 25 October. 

‘An Arab Spring?’ opens at 7pm with a lively panel boasting first-hand experience from the region. They will debate how the media has shaped our ideas of the Arab Spring. The panel includes Dr Fatima El-Issawi, a journalist, analyst, and Research Fellow at POLIS, based at the London School of Economics; and is chaired by Turi Munthe, founder of the citizen journalism website Demotix.

Music takes over from 9pm. DJ U-Cef and The Arab League will brew a rich blend of traditional Maghrebi music with dub, jazz and fresh urban beats to transport you from West London deep into the heart of the Sahara. Melisa adds her unique Oriental style to the proceedings with two short sets, each about 7 minutes long. The versatile dancer is a good friend of Moroccan musical pioneer U-Cef, who has garnered a deserved global reputation for his genre-busting music that has inspired a new generation of musical talent specialising in Moroccan urban dance. The two have regularly supported each other’s work.

Melisa will be the only Turkish artist at Nour. The Izmir-born dancer now permanently resides in the UK. She has become a sought-after dancer since turning professional seven years ago, regularly featuring in music videos and prestigious cultural events. 

She said, “Art is global and so much of Middle Eastern culture overlaps with my own, so I am delighted to be participating at Nour. It is poignant to be dancing at a session about the Arab Spring – bellydancing empowers women and so many were involved in the uprising.” She added, “The programming for this year’s Nour is great. I already have my tickets for Reem Kelani – I can’t wait!”  

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) has one of the largest communities of Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) origin, with Arabic the borough’s second language. The RBKC launched the Nour festival in 2010 at Leighton House Museum – the building is recognised as being an international symbol of east meeting west. 

Nour” means 'light' or 'illumination' in various Middle Eastern languages. The festival annually provides an exciting platform to showcase contemporary arts and culture from across the MENA region, quickly growing to become the foremost of its kind in the UK.

This year’s festival encompasses film, exhibitions, literature, music, politics, visual arts, fashion and cuisine. It runs during October and November in renowned cultural centres including the Victoria and Albert Museum, Science Museum the Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre, Ciné Lumière, The Tabernacle, and the Mosaic Rooms. 

Speaking about the festival, Councillor Nicholas Paget-Brown, Deputy Leader of the RBKC said: "Nour has rapidly developed into an internationally respected festival of contemporary culture from across the Middle East and North Africa. It is part of our ongoing commitment to cultural excellence and we are very proud that the festival has expanded to include some of the best-known cultural institutions in the UK and provide an increased global platform for emerging voices and international talent."

Major artists performing at the Nour Festival include the British Palestinian author Selma Dabbagh, the Iraqi music artist Attab Haddad, and the Palestinian singer and broadcaster Reem Kelani, who has performed with several Turkish artists and is renowned for fusing  her native sounds with Jazz. 

Entrance to ‘An Arab Spring?’ is £5 per person and advance booking is recommended. The Dash Café is located at 3-5 Thorpe Close, London W10 5XL. For more information about the event, festival and to book tickets, visit: www.nourfestival.co.uk 

Melisa

Melisa is one of UK’s best known and respected Turkish bellydancers, fusing Oriental styles and techniques to deliver some of the most exhilarating performances you will ever see. Her unique style is packed full of emotion and drama, aided by her expert use of props such as a sword, Isis wings, veil and silk fans. Performing professionally for the past seven years, she has shared the stage with the likes of Algeria’s king of Rock’n’Rai Abdelkader Saadoun (Royal Albert Hall, 2006 to 2008 UK tours) and the Bollydance Superstars for their Indian-Egyptian dance spectacle (2009, Dublin). One of the hardest working and most sought-after performers, Melisa can also be seen weekly in leading establishments across Greater London that specialise in Middle Eastern, Turkish, Persian, Indian and Greek culture and cuisine.  www.melisayavas.com

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