A Syrian dancer’s journey to the Paris stage!

Yara al Hasbani was putting the finishing touches to her make-up for a performance of “Romeo and Juliet” in Damascus when she found out her father had been tortured to death.
It was the moment the dancer’s world turned upside down.
“The little girl in me died at that moment,” says the 24-year-old, who had protested alongside her family against Syria’s government in 2011 at the start of the civil war.
Six years on, Hasbani may be living a new life in Paris, but her feelings on the war at home spill onto the stage through her poignant contemporary choreography.
Her first Parisian performances, in the public squares at Republique and Trocadero, right by the Eiffel Tower, were tributes to the hundreds of Syrian children killed in a chemical weapons attack in 2013.
“I took inspiration from the photos,” Hasbani says. “I imitated the positions of the children’s curled-up bodies.”
She is just kicking off performances of “Unstoppable,” a 12-minute solo retracing her journey to exile, at a dance festival organised by the Arab World Institute in Paris, running until June 23.
Hasbani, who sports a bleach-blonde pixie haircut and a nose piercing, has slowly rebuilt her life through dance after it fell apart with her father’s death.
His body was returned to the family 23 days after he was arrested by Syrian authorities.
They claimed he had died of a heart attack.
When she began receiving threats herself, she knew she couldn’t stay in Damascus.
“Don’t you know who’s talking to you? Watch yourself,” said a voice over the phone.
Hasbani, her mother and two siblings came to France three years ago after they were granted refugee visas in Europe. — AFP