Journalism, Reviews, Interviews, Opinion, Travel, Culinary, Creative Fiction, Short Stories & Poetry

I am a Writer, Artist, Musician and Philosopher who believes the reason to be alive is to learn, experience, grow, influence and if you're lucky, inspire.

I've created this blog to introduce my own literature to the rest of the world in the hope that it will - and I will - in some way, make a difference.

There is a quote by a Greek philosopher, Epictetus, which I love: First Learn the Meaning of What You Say and then Speak. I believe in making life as meaningful as possible, and that is why everything you find here was created with meaning which I believe, in turn, gives it the power to inspire.

I hope you will enjoy reading my writing and be sure to check out my website at for samples of my artwork, photography and music.

From Inspiration to Creation...


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Saturday, 9 October 2010

Tune in to Hemi-Sync

An Excursion Workshop by the Monroe Institute

Have you ever felt like you are stuck? Had enough? Feeling unfocused? Are you having trouble sleeping, or experiencing a creative block? Do people sometimes make you uncomfortable by invading your personal space? Have you ever had a worry that just won’t go away, a problem that you can’t seem to solve? Who hasn’t.

That is why The Monroe Institute Workshop, facilitated for the first time in Cyprus by gifted healer Barbara Jones, is perfect for everyone, no matter what you are going through or feeling. It deals with all these issues and more, offering you - no matter who you are, or where you come from - a way to change your life for the better. Something simple to achieve, if only by introducing one new habit into your life by choosing to continue practicing any one of the things you have learnt afterwards. Experience this workshop and you can emerge from it feeling lighter, more alert, with sharper sensations and a deeper sense of awareness.

I didn’t know anything about the Institute’s vast array of programs prior to the workshop, but when I read up a little about Hemi-Sync, which is what this excursion was going to focus on, I was curious to find out more, in person. However there was nothing that could have prepared me for what I was going to experience. A patented, scientifically and clinically proven audio-guidance technology developed by The Monroe Institute, Hemi-Sync uses blending sound patterns to help bring both the hemispheres of the brain into unison, which in turn enables listeners to accomplish goals by achieving a focused, productive ‘whole-brain’ state. This 2-day Excursion Workshop digs much deeper than you would think, and uses practical - not just theoretical - exercises to actually enhance your consciousness and expand your awareness, in order to help you understand yourself better. Are you a bit of a cynic? I was... until I took this course. Even though I had already previously taken a meditation course, I was still not prepared to believe how effective and life-changing this particular method could be until I had real proof of my own. However, I took a leap of faith and threw myself into this with an open mind and an open heart, willing to make the most I could out of this experience. It helps.

Upon arriving at ‘R’ place, a renovated village house which was our chosen location for this particular event, I was charmed by the beautiful and peaceful premises, as well as the intimacy of the small group who was ready to share and move forward and upward towards enlightenment and self-discovery together. Barbara and her visiting overseas facilitator Thomas were both delightful and encouraging, and everything was organised to perfection, from the sign-up sheet to the healthy snacks and array of drinks available to the poster cards used in the introduction to give us an outline of what was to come.

We began with everyone introducing themselves, followed by a description of what this course entailed, and then a short and illustrating explanation of how this effective method, created by founder Bob Monroe, actually works. We were then told what our first exercise would include, and from there we moved to another room on the upper floor of the building where we found an oasis where we could practice and learn. After choosing an inflatable mattress where we would settle down on, and making ourselves comfortable with pillows and blankets, we put on our headphones and started to tune in to Bob Monroe’s recordings. As we fell into the rhythm of the soothing sounds, followed his instructions we began our journey. Step by step, we found ourselves falling - or rather, rising – into a deeper relaxation, where our bodies felt ‘asleep’, but our minds remained awake. As the lights were dimmed and we closed our eyes, we were guided from regular normal waking consciousness (C-1) to Focus 10 (F-10), which is defined as ‘mind awake, body asleep’. And that was just the beginning. From F-10, we learnt the following day how to access an even deeper side to our consciousness, F-12, which is a high energy state where even deeper work on the self can be achieved. I was amazed to learn that practitioners of Hemi-Sync can often reach up to level F-21, and even F-27!

Throughout the practical sessions, Barbara and Thomas were always present to make sure we were comfortable and to help us emerge from our state of meditation back into full alertness. After each practical exercise we would retreat downstairs for a short break, a debrief about how we felt, where if we wished we could share how the experience had affected us, after which Barbara would introduce us to the next exercise. When I say exercise, you may think of tiring repetitive movements, but although the steps to get you to F-10 need to be repetitive, there is absolutely nothing tiring in these sessions which exercise your mind while your body relaxes. Even the mind is not getting tired, because it is not being tested, nor is there something specific thing to learn in each exercise, but rather a guideline and the freedom to let your body sink deeper and let your mind explore.

What I personally enjoyed most was the experience of pure relaxation of the body and mind, once I had reached higher levels of consciousness, but what I found most interesting were the actual differences between each practical session, as each time we were given a new and useful tool to help us access another dimension of ourselves. For example, we would begin by listening to the soothing sounds of surf crashing on the beach, mimicking the rhythm of your breath, and then we would visualise shutting away all our issues, troubles or anything that might get in our way, by putting them into our personal imaginary Energy Conversion Box and closing the lid. I practised how to be comfortable with my own voice, by humming or making sounds while I exhaled, something called Resonant Tuning, which helped to release and gather energy while giving myself an internal massage with the vibrations of voice. We also learnt how to visualise the breath spurting out of your body as a fountain, creating a spiral cascade of energy flowing downwards around you before being sucked back into you from your feet as you inhale again. This is your REBAL, your Resonant Energy Balloon, and it was fun working in groups of twos afterwards to try and feel the other person projecting their balloon. Something as simple as having your own balloon can help protect you in times when you feel you require more space, or need to defend yourself against bad energy, physical attack or draining people. I was delighted when Barbara told me she could feel my energy blasting outwards when I was trying to inflate my REBAL! The self-exploration with Metamusic was pleasurable, and the Releasing and Recharging exercise was a truly emotional cleansing process. An important step, not to forget, is the Gateway Affirmation: an internal speech of acceptance and awareness where you express that you are more than your physical body, that you are willing to let others more experienced and knowledgeable help support you, and that you are grateful. After this, you are ready to enter F10... and beyond.

I was thankful to have had the chance to experience this workshop. I went into it not knowing what to expect and came out of it refreshed and relaxed. You may not want to have an out-of-body experience; perhaps you are just looking for a way to bring a breath of fresh air into your routine by introducing new, useful habits and helpful tools into your everyday life. Or maybe you are experiencing something troubling and need to find a new way to work through it. Even if you just want to learn something new, and meet a bunch of interesting people and have a peaceful and enjoyable weekend away, this Excursion Workshop is for you. The benefits can be endless: profound relaxation, accelerated learning, heightened creativity, expanded awareness, enhanced sleep and well-being, pain and stress management, and spiritual growth.

Don’t worry about the unknown. There are no subliminal messages in the recordings, no potential for injury during the workshop, no residual unwanted effects afterwards. There is only a new dimension of awareness: a mental universe waiting to be explored. Transcend to a place where you can perceive untapped sources of information and energy which extend beyond your physical body. Hemi-Sync’s beats will lead the way. Tune in.

Copyright © Nathalie Kyrou 2010

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

13th European Dance Festival

A Critical Review by Nathalie Kyrou

I am not a professional dancer, but now I wish I was. This is the kind of effect that the European Dance Festival, held for the last two years at the Rialto Theatre in Limassol, Cyprus, has on its audience. It makes you want to leap and soar, inspiring that part of you where creativity and talent - and the innate need to move - are buried. 

Greece opened the festival with its courageous portrayal of man, a creature who is both dream and nightmare, in a piece called ‘Unknown Negative Activity’. The Rootless Root Company, a choreographic duo made up of a couple, introduced the first and only child to take part in this festival, a young girl who performed alongside them in a chilling and disturbing concept. This was not just dance, but a melange of performance, voice, live instrument, music, poetry, acting, and dramatic use of lighting and props. Starting off too slow for my liking, the piece thankfully built up momentum right up until its climactic ending, when the child shockingly climbs into the swaying womb of a hanging animal hide, after having spent most of the choreography having her body pushed and pulled, thrown and caught and manipulated into a multitude of shapes and poses by the other dancers. A brave act of trust between performers, the effect on me was a feeling of discomfort, disbelief and admiration, especially for the little girl whose unbelievably rubbery body and expressionless face made something extremely difficult seem easy beyond belief. 

Another favourite of mine in the festival this year was Spain. A unique evening of two works was presented by two choreographers with distinct yet contrasting styles. The Thoomas Noone Dance Company began the night with ‘Tort’: pure abstract dance investigating the space onstage and the organisation of its group of dancers. Forming, reforming and deforming the body, the dance was accompanied by a sparse, attenuated, melodic motif. The dancers - some of the best in the festival this year - used the weight of their bodies to flow and fall from one pose into another, gravity helping them to join and separate from each other. The result: a flowing, graceful choreography which avoided the usual clichés. The second piece, ‘Chaos Quartet’, featured four dancers each taking turns to perform, while changing their clothes throughout the piece. A highly respectable and entertaining performance from an already award-winning upcoming company exemplified the great talent and potential the field of contemporary dance has to offer.  

Another country that used the idea of putting on and removing clothes was Austria, who chose to make it more of a central theme. For the first time on stage during a dance event in Cyprus I was faced with completely naked bodies. The production ‘Secret sight: Dossier’ by Dans.Kias started with two women lying on the floor in nothing but their birthday suits. The choreography started and ended at snail’s pace, and unfortunately also dragged throughout, making the most interesting part the actual putting on and taking off of the clothes - which is not to say much. Dancers walking around, folding their clothes and carrying them from one part of the stage to the other, seemed to have no point other than to offer us much needed distraction from the monotonous moves and perplexing nudity. Only a duet towards the end offered us somewhat original choreography, but the movements looked rather clumsy, uncomfortable and unconvincing. When a third male and one of the female dancers removed their clothes completely from the waist below and danced a duet displaying their bare genitals, I was shocked enough to pay attention... if only for a few moments before I glanced back at my watch wondering how many more minutes of this piece I had left to endure. 

Nudity, a recurring theme in this festival, returned once more Italy’s performance. The scene opened with a smoke-filled a stage adorned with white lace curtains. In a hazy blur we are faced with six female figures wearing black dresses and veils covering their faces. As they stomp around the stage in their black heels, repeating prayers in unison and using only the sound and rhythm of their voices and footsteps to move to, I felt myself captured by what felt more like a Sicilian melodramatic movie than a contemporary dance. The drama heightened when the widow-like dancers suddenly dropped their dresses revealing themselves to be men...  completely naked with only the material from their dresses delicately concealing their private parts! Of course, if one had paid attention to the brochure, one would already know that the dancers were men, but the real shock here was not the revelation of their sex, but rather their sexy bodies, as they lined up in a row with their backsides staring at us in nothing but skin, teasing and posing and winking at us, while accompanied by music from ‘The Full Monty’. This comedic twist turned out to be a crowd pleaser, and although the dancers returned onto stage wearing new dresses – which this time they did not remove – the piece did not ever fully return to that initial level of humour which had made it stand out from the crowd at the start. Although the artistic direction was inspired, and the performance beautifully executed throughout the night by the Zappala Dance Company’s talented dancers, I did not however feel the choreography deserved the recurring curtain calls and standing ovation it received at the end. The work seemed too long and repetitive, and even though the amazingly versatile instrument, which provided the only source of sound in the piece (apart from the dancers’ voices), was the feature – and title - of the performance, the marranzano, as it is called, should have been drastically reduced in its use, as by the end of the night I wished I had brought earplugs with me. 

A country which I believe deserved the standing ovation and enthusiasm which Italy received was Finland – one of my favourites of the festival - whose piece ‘And the Line Begins to Blur’ stood out from all the other works with its style, design, and choreography. With talented performers who did much more than just dance, the Susanna Leinonen Company impressed me with its original music and unified whole. The choreography displayed growing tensions between the individual and community, the past and the future, and I was instantly drawn into the surreal world where beauty meets the dark outlook of life. In moments, the style of dancing reminded me of Michael Jackson’s Thriller video. The superb lighting design and costumes were worthy of a horror movie film, and they complemented each other and the choreography perfectly. The result: a unified and dramatic work of art which was over much too soon, leaving me wanting more. 

Germany’s and Ghana’s collaboration in DIN A 13 tanzcompany and Dance Factory Accra’s piece, ‘Patterns Beyond Traces’, is worth a mention. Although it is the only piece I didn’t manage to see this festival, its description in the brochure sounded interesting enough with its theme of disability, displacement, tradition and myth, and the efforts of people attempting to flee the stereotypes of race. With an interesting use of props, this work was performed by 5 dancers from Ghana and was one I wish I had seen. Croatia’s ‘Trisolistice’ by Cie Marmot was on the other hand a piece I wish I had missed. From the impression I got from the audience’s swift exit the moment the lights dimmed at the end of the performance, it was not only me who would have preferred that the work had been cut down to simply the presentation of the video part featuring the three individual female dancers, rather than having put us through their extremely dire live solo performances.  

Switzerland’s entry was far more interesting, even though it again seemed a little stretched, with its use of props such as rabbit hand-puppets, miniature soft toy horses, and long poles. ‘Black Swan’ featured four skilled dancers, from the company Ci Gilles Jobin, who demonstrated their mastery of the props in complex moves in this thematic piece of dance which integrated childhood games and disorientation. Cypriot entries by Amfidromo (‘Bla, bla, bla, Black out’), pelma.liaharaki (‘Giraffe’), and Aelion Dance Co. (‘Paul Kee’), took place in Nicosia at this festival proving why, with their respectively atmospheric, comedic, and beautiful aspects, they were the local favourites from their performances earlier in the year at the Contemporary Dance Platform in Limassol. The European Dance Festival ended with Portugal performing in Nicosia, in a piece by Paulo Ribeiro called ‘Maiorca’. Accompanied by a live pianist playing the popular and enchanting Preludes by Chopin, the six dancers balanced and climbed and jumped around their self-constructed playground of wooden boards, making it one of the more interesting pieces in terms of prop-use, although it felt slow and monotonous in parts. A piece that was clever, original, and playful, as well as nicely executed, unfortunately seemed disjointed from its classical score, and would have worked better in half the length. 

The (dance) Oscar of the festival in my opinion should go to France’s work ‘Douar’, performed by nine Algerian / French male dancers – including their choreographer Kader Attou . A collaboration between Attou and the National Choreographic Centre of La Rochelle and Cie Accororap, this work blew me away with its graceful blend of young Algerian hiphop, break-dancing, belly dancing, and exotic dancing (amongst some other styles of dancing that may not yet have definition e.g. puppet-dancing comes to mind). My jaw dropped open in astonishment and awe for most of the night - not just at the performers’ skills but also by the smooth and clever way Attou’s choreography and artistic direction masterfully merged different styles and music together into one entertaining and satisfying whole. By far the funnest of Limassol’s run of performances, this piece succeeded in drawing the audience in with the likeability of its characters and its original use of props. The acrobatics, theatrical aspect and soundtrack made me want to get up and join in all the fun. Squeals of delight and laughter from the audience emerged throughout the piece, as the dancers bodies flowed and contorted into unheard of shapes and forms. The highlight for me was surprisingly not the tricks such as the bouncing around upside down on one arm, or the back flips or the spinning break-dancing, or even the double jointed belly dancer (!), but simply the man who stood alone in the middle of the stage under a spotlight and moved his body in tiny speedy mechanical bursts which gave the effect of a human looking robot under strobe lighting – not unlike some sort of creature designed by special CGI effects! By the end of the night, each and every dancer had been allowed his 15 minutes of fame to show off his individual talents, yet the group showed that they could also perform well together in harmonious unison. They epitomized the essential trust that has to exist between dancers in such routines, persuading me by the end of the night that these men were not just partners in a dance company, but possibly friends, and maybe even family ( the kind of relatives I would want to visit me at celebrations!). The audience seemed to agree, as they raised their hands in the air with tremendous applause at the end of the night, which prompted an encore from the happy and grateful dancers. 

This festival may not be a competitive event – and rightly so, for all art is indeed a matter of taste – but if it were one, although there were definitely some stars, and some disappointments, I would put my hands together again for Finland, Greece and Spain, but France would ultimately win... hands down. Or rather, hands up, in the air!
Copyright 2010 Nathalie Kyrou

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Ten Reasons to Love Cyprus in the Summer

  1. It’s too hot to do anything. What better excuse than this to laze around doing nothing? No need to feel guilty about sitting for hours in a coffee shop or lounging on the beach. The heat is just too extreme to even contemplate getting all those chores done, let alone going grocery shopping. Much easier to take it easy and order some delivery later. In fact, with temperatures rising above 40C, it is practically dangerous to be outdoors in the sun. So don’t sweat it! Stay in, turn on the fan, and watch a marathon of DVDs. Respond to the effects of global warming, by taking long cool dips in the sea, or - if you’re not as conscious - long afternoon naps in the A.C. (if you have a job, hopefully they understand the importance of ‘siesta’ time). Don’t worry one bit about accomplishing nothing. Just don’t complain about the heat – remember: it’s your ally! 
  2. It never rains. Predictable weather means no need to worry about sudden downpours or thunderstorms. Although it’s true that Cyprus could really do with some precipitation, there is a positive side to the fact that it never rains here in the summer: it means you can plan ahead without the need to reschedule expeditions or outings because of the weather. It may not be exciting, but the fact that it’s sunny each and every single day is truly a blessing to many. It’s the reason why most people visit Cyprus, love it out here and move to or retire on the island. A Mediterranean climate is a lucky thing to have, so take advantage of it, and pull the top down on your jeep (or if you’re lucky, your convertible), and start making sandwiches….because everyday in Cyprus is picnic day.
  3. The island vibe. We all know it: Cyprus during the wintertime is a quiet, relaxing place to be, but it’s not very happening, is it? Well, come June, the island springs back to life. Suddenly there are things to do, events to attend, new shops, bars and restaurants opening. Check out the open-air festivals and array of concerts: this year the International Music festival took place in the lovely outdoor setting of Curium Amphitheatre, Limassol hosted not only the European Dance Festival and the Ethnic festival but also the International Documentary Festival, jazz festivals took place in villages in the Paphos region, and a new drive-in cinema opened in Nicosia. The great thing is that a lot of these events are free to the public - yet another incentive to experience, explore and discover what this island has to offer come the summer. (And even if you don’t go anywhere, if you live somewhere touristic there is always some sort of music emanating from a nearby hotel or outdoor nightclub to enjoy, free-of-charge).
  4. The sea-side culture. What I love about Cyprus in the summertime are the lovely open-air beach bars, cafés and clubs. For a small, modest island, the classy night-life establishments match those found on the Italian Riviera or the South of France. If you are lucky enough to live in a sea-side town, you probably already frequent such venues (and shame on you if you don’t). Idyllically located right by the beach, these stylish, sophisticated and extremely popular spots are the perfect places to take in the sea-view whilst relaxing or enjoying yourself with your mates. Luckily, every year, new bars open up, and old ones are renovated and renamed, offering both locals and tourists a fresh place to party or sip that frappé.
  5. Swimming. Cyprus has unpolluted, clear and (usually) shark-free waters. No poisonous jelly-fish or really dangerous surf. Unlike many other countries, the law here states that all beaches are public territory, so no matter whether you are in front of a deluxe resort, someone’s private home or at the local beach with your fifteen relatives, you have a right to be there… for free. Take your pick: the brown sands of Limassol, the red sands of Paphos, or the golden white sands of Ayia Napa? Make the most of the coral reefs in the Protaras and Akamas regions and go snorkeling or scuba-diving – Cyprus has a vast variety of colourful fish and aquatic life that rivals that of tropical isles. Already, inhabitants of this island are lucky enough to be able to swim almost 8 months a year (or more, if you’re brave!), but even better is the fact that the sea-water is truly warm during the summer months, making it ideal for all.
  6. Mountain life. If swimming is not your thing, then do not despair. Cyprus not only has gorgeous mountain scenery and wildlife, but a trip up to the summit of Troodos mountain or to the various picturesque villages around the region will take you less than an hour from Limassol and only a little more from other towns. In fact, the benefit of being on such a small island means that you could potentially go to the beach and up to the mountains all in one day! So, if you’re finding it a little too hot to be out in the sun, take a refreshing break from the busy beaches and drive up to the shady forests of Platres or Platania , where you can make the most of the peace and quiet.
  7. Less traffic. Most of you will be aware of the challenges of driving on Cypriot roads. Well, thankfully, during the summer-time, mainly because the schools are closed, and also most locals are away on vacation, there is substantially less traffic, which makes getting around much easier and faster (and safer) for the rest of us!
  8. Plenty of locally grown fruit. Cyprus is renown for its plethora of delicious fruit, especially in the summertime when its climate makes it a perfect breeding ground for cactus pears, cherries, strawberries, avocados, figs, peaches, pomegranate and grapes. In fact, despite the oranges and lemons that the island is famous for, if you like gardening, there are also many tropical fruit which can easily grow here in the heat and humidity, like mango, papaya, and kumquats.
  9. The Social Scene. Cyprus almost doubles in population in the summertime. With hundreds of thousands of tourists and foreigners flying in from abroad and Cypriots returning to the mother-land or emerging from hibernation, the island is once again alive and buzzing with people. It is a chance for families to reunite, for friends to socialize and for locals and foreigners to intermingle. Parents welcome their children who return home for the holidays from their studies abroad, and the island thrives with the energy of crowds of people getting together to celebrate just that: getting together. 
  10. The never-ending summer. Because “there’s always tomorrow – the sun will still be shining,” the summer here feels long (even longer than it is), and so you never worry that it may be your last chance to do any of those summery things you haven’t gotten around to doing yet. Because of this, there’s never any rush and you can take it easy – all of which contribute to the laid-back and hassle-free atmosphere of the island. Honestly, what is there to stress about when summer lasts forever? 
          Nathalie Kyrou ©2010