Photo taken on March 11, 2019 shows Iraqi young people participating in a DJ training in the city of Sulaimaniyah in northeastern Iraq. A group of young boys and girls were learning in a two-week program on how to become a disc jockey (DJ) in Iraq's northern semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan. In a country ravaged by war and social cleavage, creating art together is a recipe for building a better society. TO GO WITH Feature: Iraqi young people learn music with gender equality (Xinhua)
SULAIMANIYAH, Iraq, March 14 (Xinhua) -- A group of young boys and girls were learning in a two-week program on how to become a disc jockey (DJ) in Iraq's northern semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan.
In a country ravaged by war and social cleavage, creating art together is a recipe for building a better society.
It was a sunny day of March in the city of Sulaimaniyah in northeastern Iraq, where Hala and her father arrived at the Culture Fabric, a huge space of 66,000 square meters in the heart of the Kurdish city.
The 33-year-old woman was excited and scared, almost trying to hide in her elegant and colored long dress. It is her first music workshop away from home.
Organized in cooperation with the Goethe-Institut, a German cultural institution, and the French Embassy in Baghdad, the "Beats in Iraq" workshop takes place in Sulaimaniyah from March 10 to 24.
Around Hala in the meeting room, the rest of the group were chatting and sharing music tips. Aged between 18 and 30, the participants of "Beats in Iraq" included people who have jobs or study in universities with different majors.
But they were all passionate about music, electronic sounds in particular. Farouk was playing drums, Ali the guitar, Sami the piano and keyboards, and several others were playing traditional Kurdish instruments. A mixed team was animated by the same passion for artistic creation.
"Time to start," said DJ Ipek and Hadi Zeidan, two teachers of the workshop. Ipek, a passionate woman born in 1972, is well known around the world and mostly performing in Berlin and Istanbul. Zeidan, in his 30s, lives in Paris. They have been working for years on connection between electronic and traditional music.
For years, Ipek offers workshops for women DJs, and felt really happy to have four women participating in "Beats in Iraq." She said that a lack of women in this field is unfortunately widely diffused all over the world.
"Women performing in clubs are still few," she said. "So, we would be happy if we create something here in Sulaimaniyah. We have, by the end of the workshop, really nice female DJs."
"Here we have mostly men participating," she admits. "But their attitude toward their women colleagues is really nice, and they are happy to have women colleagues as their presence improves even more the ambiance of the workshop."
Every morning, the students would be divided into two groups. One would learn to produce their own music with Ipek, beatmatching with CDs and DJ with tablets and smartphones. The other group would create sounds and remixing with traditional Kurdish music under the guidance of Zeidan.
They would also learn how to mix electronic with traditional instruments and record sounds, and then switch in order to learn the whole program.
"Music is not a taboo," said Hala, with no shyness anymore and supported by the smiles of her friends. "Music is fun, and makes us all together."
Hala graduated as an engineer, and she now works at the Kurdish regional ministry of health. She had to apply for leaves in order to be able to attend the workshop.
"Women are talented in all the places in all countries. But we get a lot of pressure that draws us backward, instead of being in the lead," she said.
"We are half of the society and we are raising the other half, so it's very important that women should be in the lead. I guess I should stand up for women rights," Hala added.
At the end of the workshop, students and directors in collaboration with guest-musicians would curate a concert at the Culture Fabric.
Since last year, the Fabric Culture has been helping young artists and students of the Kurdish city create and perform their arts.
"It's a free space for anyone who has a talent and wants to express it," said one of the participants at the DJ workshop.