Syrian dancer takes a spookily empty Paris as her canvas

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Syrian dancer and choreographer Yara Al-Hasbani performs a dance on the empty Trocadero square in front of the Eiffel tower in Paris on April 22, 2020, on the 37th day of a strict lockdown in France to stop the spread of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus). (AFP)
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Syrian dancer and choreographer Yara Al-Hasbani performs a dance in front of Paris’ Opera Garnier on April 22, 2020, on the 37th day of a strict lockdown in France to stop the spread of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus). (AFP)
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Syrian dancer and choreographer Yara al-Hasbani performs a dance in front of the Louvre museum's pyramid in Paris on April 22, 2020, on the 37th day of a strict lockdown in France to stop the spread of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus). (AFP)
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Syrian dancer and choreographer Yara Al-Hasbani performs a dance in front of Paris’ Arc de Triomphe on April 22, 2020, on the 37th day of a strict lockdown in France to stop the spread of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus). (AFP)
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Syrian dancer and choreographer Yara Al-Hasbani performs a dance in front the Louvre museum pyramid in Paris on April 22, 2020, on the 37th day of a strict lockdown in France to stop the spread of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus). (AFP)
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Updated 25 April 2020

Syrian dancer takes a spookily empty Paris as her canvas

  • The Syrian choreographer has drawn crowds across France for her performances in public squares and parks
  • Trained as a ballet and contemporary dancer in Damascus, Al-Hasbani left her war-torn homeland six years ago and is now a member of the Atelier of Artists in Exile in the French capital

PARIS: Dancer Yara Al-Hasbani is used to causing a stir everywhere she goes.
The Syrian choreographer has drawn crowds across France for her performances in public squares and parks.
But there wasn’t a soul in sight as she performed a series of spectacular ballet moves in front of the deserted grand monuments of Paris for AFP.
With the French capital in lockdown for nearly six weeks because of the coronavirus, the 26-year-old had some of the most visited sites in the world to herself.
Wearing a white mask, she danced an arabesque in front of the Louvre museum, an “attitude derriere” on the steps of Sacre Coeur and did a “six o’clock” with one leg right up to her head by the Arc du Triomphe.
Trained as a ballet and contemporary dancer in Damascus, Al-Hasbani left her war-torn homeland six years ago and is now a member of the Atelier of Artists in Exile in the French capital, where she has lived since 2016.
“It is really strange to see these monuments deserted,” said the choreographer.
She said it was wonderful “to admire the city without noise and tourists but at the same time it was sad, as if it was abandoned.”
Perhaps the most spectacular images come from Human Rights Square — a cause dear to Al-Hasbani’s heart — at Trocadero looking out at the Eiffel Tower.
She has previously danced at Place de la Republique, a traditional rallying point for protests in the French capital, where she created her first piece outside Syria in memory of the hundreds of children killed in a chemical attack near Damascus in August 2015.


New competition to challenge filmmakers and push their limits

Updated 09 October 2020

New competition to challenge filmmakers and push their limits

JEDDAH: A new short film competition is set to entice and support local filmmakers while challenging them as they write, shoot and edit their creations in just 48 hours.

The Red Sea International Film Festival launched a new short film competition that will include three days of mentorship once through the selection process, followed by an intensive 48 hours where the selected teams will create their films within that short window while working around a set theme and incorporating surprise elements.

The competition is a collaboration between the Alliance Française, the Consulate General of France in Jeddah, the French Embassy in Riyadh, the Red Sea International Film Festival, and La Fémis.

The shortlisted teams will be selected by a jury composed of award winning actress Hend Sabry, film director and screenwriter Lisa Sallustio, French film director and writer Brice Cauvin, Saudi writer and director Faizah Saleh Ambah and Saudi film director and producer Mohammed Al-Hamoud.

Teams must be between 2-5 participants and aged between 18-25 years old. Those selected from the applicants will enjoy three days of workshops starting Oct. 22, which will equip them with the knowledge and expertise to develop their film, from idea to final cut between Oct. 30-31.

The jury screening will take place a few days after, between Nov. 2-4.

The announcement of the winners will take place on Nov. 9. Two competition winners will go on to enjoy a residency program with renowned french cinema operators in 2021.