chapter  9
3 Pages

Unlocking joy in the body

Creative movement with Yazidi refugees in Northern Iraq
WithLydia J. Mathis

In 2017, the displaced Yazidis of Northern Iraq were in a perpetual state of mourning. Mental illness became normalised for these families as they grieved their losses and those still in captivity. I came to Iraq as a university student studying dance. I was not sure I had anything to offer, but with the help of trauma experts, I designed a dance programme for children living in the camps. Together, these Yazidi children and I discovered how to unlock freedom, joy and connection in our bodies through movement. Dance became a tool for these children to cope with the extensive personal and cultural trauma they were experiencing.