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“Building a cultural bridge of communication”

Christothea Iacovou

Bicommunal cultural festival (Panayır) which took place in Larnaca, brought the people from two communities together .

“Voice International” interviewed Elias Dimitriou (a member of the “Culture Movement”) at the bicommunal event “Panayiri of Culture”, which took place on Sunday, May 21. He discussed the festival itself and the bridge of communication they aim to create between the two communities through culture.

Culture as a Bridge of Communication…

“We are trying to build cultural bonds between the two communities through events like ‘Panayiri.’ We speak a common language that is understandable to everyone: music, together with other shared elements that connect the two communities, like common music, stories, spaces, etc. All of the above unite people, giving them the opportunity to create experiences together. At the same time, they convey a deeper message, that of feasible coexistence. In other words, just as they can enjoy themselves, sing, and dance together, they can also coexist on a broader scale. We want to show that our common interests are much greater than those we believe may divide us.”

A festival of dance show, poetry, theatre, and more. Why were they chosen?

We organised an event that highlights various forms of culture shared by the two communities. We provided an opportunity for attendees to get to know the Turkish Cypriot neighbourhood of Larnaca and simultaneously, “Rhythm of Cyprus” (by Maria Kramvi and Zehra O. Yilmaz) organised a percussion instrument workshop for young visitors, allowing children from both communities to communicate through music and musical instruments without any language barriers. Moreover, they embraced the rhythm of the songs and joined hands with the dance program of the bicommunal group “Cyprus.” It is worth mentioning that the selected songs were drawn from a pool of shared experiences encountered in the culture of the two communities, with the aim of showcasing our common cultural heritage. The theatrical performance, “Spanos and the Forty Dragons” by Antilogue Theatre (featuring Vasilis Pafitis and Izel Seylani), with subtitles in Greek and Turkish, and the poetic interventions (by Arif Albayrak, Alasios, Emel Kaya, Maria Siakalli, Michalis Christofidis, and Tamer Ongul) contributed in their own way to some of our shared attributes. Finally, the event concluded with a concert by the bicommunal music band “Let’s Sing Together Band”, along with other Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot artists (Frederiki Tombazou, Niyal Ozturk, George Kalogirou, Umut Albayrak, Dimitris Mesimeris, and Savvas Chrysostomou), who came together once again (following other successful initiatives) to create a musical celebration that reminisced and revived our common musical roots.

“Panayiri”. Why did you choose the particular term?

It is a word that can be found in both the Greek and Turkish languages, as well as in the Cypriot dialect. Often, when we hear this term, it brings to mind a creation that is not well-crafted, an abstract production. Our intention was to reintroduce the concept that is deeply rooted in our tradition and to focus, even through the name itself, on all the elements that connect ordinary people and have always united us, such as common customs, traditions, and celebrations. By extension, we emphasise the notion of shared coexistence. This particular term has been used in previous events as well. For example, the initial events of the bicommunal ensemble were named “Music/Müzik Panayır.”

Why did you choose Larnaca as the gathering place for this event?

We have selected the location of Zouhouri Square, a historic neighbourhood for the Turkish…

Voice International 2023

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