Mulberry flyer

Chiswick-based breast cancer survivor Yvette Cowles, herself a client of The Mulberry Centre, has joined forces with Sushma Mehta to put together an exciting double bill on 15th March 2013 at 7.45pm to benefit this local cancer centre. 10% of the profits of the event will go to the charity.

SEQUINS ON MY BALCONY: Breasts, Belly Dance & Beating the Odds

Yvette: I am a 48 year old belly-dancer with a double mastectomy and I have taught and performed belly dance for the last 20 years. Throughout that time not only has dancing given me enormous pleasure, but it has proved a real godsend in times of crisis. Like many of my students, when I started learning, I was shy, self-conscious and unhappy with my looks. Belly dance has given me confidence in myself, made me fitter and healthier, has taken me to far-flung places in my desire to better understand its rich history and culture - and introduced me to a network of fabulous women of all ages and walks of life.

Although I was bitten by the belly dance bug many years ago, it was only when I was diagnosed and treated for cancer for the first time in 1996 that I fully realised the healing power of dance. At that time I had a very stressful high-powered job with a major publishing house and was having to fit my obsession with belly dance into what few hours I had when I wasn’t working! Fast-forward 16 years, two mastectomies, two courses of chemotherapy and one of radiotherapy, plus on-going bone treatment, and I’m still dancing. Belly dance helped me to regain my health and sanity. I may have no boobs but I am a soloist with Johara Dance Company, train other dance teachers, lecture widely on the Art of Bellydance, and teach and perform across the UK and France.

I speak to a lot of women whose lives have been devastated by breast cancer and really identify with the loss of self-esteem and insecurities that come with the disease and its treatment. There is perhaps no dance form which places more emphasis on the female form than belly dance, so I’ve been really forced to confront those fears. But 16 years on, I feel more confident and happier with my body than I did before. By telling my story in the one woman show to the general public, I hope that I can change people’s perceptions of living with cancer - and perhaps their perceptions of belly dance and belly dancers too!

The Mulberry Centre has been a fantastic source of support and help to me personally so I am delighted to be able to support them with the show. I only found out about the centre when I moved to Chiswick and picked up a flyer when I registered with my new GP. Originally I approached them with a view to teaching belly dance classes there, but found out that I was eligible for their services since I am being treated for cancer myself, so it was a very happy discovery!

Here is a clip from the first performance to give you a flavour: As you will see, it covers breasts, body image, hair loss and relationships - and much more besides!

Musafir (The Traveller)

Shamaa Dance Company, directed by Sushma Mehta, together with Fenella Juanita Barker and Vashti provide dazzling glimpses into the magical dance journey of a nomadic people of entertainers, who migrated from the deserts of Rajasthan, following their dream through North Africa and Egypt, to the mountains of Andalucia in southern Spain. Step into their world for a memorable evening.

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