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Bi-communal Music and Folk Dance Association ”CYPRUS” aims to remove prejudice

Michalis Michael, President of the Bi-communal Music and Folk Dance Association ”CYPRUS”, said that their activities are targeting the two communities, so that by their common action they would get rid of the prejudices created from the separation.
He also mentions that they seek, through joint cooperation to accomplish their mission.
Particularly he stated that “The message we would like to transmit to the society is that within the framework of good will, commitment, cooperation, love and respect, Cypriots can once again achieve beautiful outcome together.”
Zeliha Toz, Vice President of the group, said that it has been 20 years of G/c and T/c dancing together and the support from people is moving.

About the 20 year of this bicommunal collaboration and the actions of the dance group, we discussed with Michalis Michael and Zeliha Toz, President and Vice President, respectively, of the Bi-communal Music and Folk Dance Association ”CYPRUS”, in an exclusive interview for Voice International.
Question: Let’s start with the group itself. Tell us about its history…
Michalis: The Bi-communal Music and Folk Dance Association “CYPRUS” was founded in January 2012. Association members are Turkish speaking Cypriots and Greek speaking Cypriots.
Our activities are aimed for the two communities which were forced to live separated from each other within the same geographical location, by reminding of their common traditions, by them closer through common actions and by getting rid of the prejudices with which we are all fed up with the separation.
With the support of the peace-loving people from both communities we are carrying out our activities in the north, the south and the buffer zone, for erasing the borders in our island and establishing unity of our country as well as transmitting our common culture to future generations in its purest form. With these aspirations, we strive to participate in all invitations we receive from domestic and international parties as much as our recourses allow.
The message we would like to transmit to the society is that within the framework of good will, commitment, cooperation, love and respect, Cypriots can once again achieve beautiful outcome together.
All expenses of the association are covered by our members and the few sponsors supporting us. We operate two groups, the traditional dancing group and the traditional music group with teachers from both communities.
We are having rehearsals every Monday at Ledra Palace, Nicosia. Those interested in participating as dancers, musicians or just becoming members, can communicate with us through messenger and we will contact you back.


Question: Tell us about your own experience of this bi-communal collaboration…
Zeliha: It’s been 20 years since I dance in a bicommunal group. We started together with Michalis. Next year we are turning 20 years old. I think about it and it’s truly a big thing. I mean, it has been 20 years of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots dancing together. I really like that. And from us(T/c) those interested, they come and dance, without any problem. But we want all those participating to be pro-peace.
We dance at both sides of the island, wherever they call us we go. We don’t have any problem. People really likes it, especially when we finish our bid, they all stand up and we dance together. Because the songs we are dancing to are both in Greek and Turkish. That’s really important for us.

Question: From 2017 until today we are experiencing a negotiation vacuum. Did that affect people’s interest on your part in participating in bi-communal events at all?
Zeliha: There has always been a request for bicommunal movements, from both sides. From both the Turkish Cypriot side and the Greek Cypriot one. That makes us very happy, but I also think that for peace to come to Cyprus, it will be up to the leaders and the people to do so. In reality, the people from within the communities are those that are bringing people from both communities together. I think that no outcome will come from the leaders, at least today’s leaders.

Kallis Antounas-Voice International 2023

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