Toronto Palestine Film Festival

TPFF Presents: A Dance Performance in Memory of Palestinian Dancer Ayman Safieh

Expired September 30, 2020 3:59 AM
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Co-presented by KUVRD

Curated by Samaa Wakeem & Mohammed Samahneh

We have the privilege of hosting Palestinian dance performers, who have merged forces and joined us from all over Palestine for a special tribute to the late, Ayman Safieh. Curated by Samaa Wakeem and Mohammad Samahneh

Ayman Safieh was a 29-year-old renowned dancer, choreographer, teacher, artist and activist who participated in local and international performances, using his art to raise social and political consciousness. His contributions to Palestinian and global arts and culture have changed us forever, and we are grateful. In May 2020, Ayman Safieh passed away in tragic circumstances, leaving a deep imprint on the many people who knew and loved him.

This series of works is a tribute to Ayman’s work and legacy collected and performed by friends and colleagues who will forever “keep moving” in his memory. This special piece is curated by Samaa Wakeem and M. Mohamed .Barges ,and is inspired by the time and journey they experienced with their dear friend that was taken way too soon, Ayman Safieh. The piece reclaims happy, humorous and special moments they shared together.

Part 1:

Video dance “This place"

The piece marks a place as a space that holds life, memories, hopes, disappointments, aspirations, experiences, moments of anguish and joy. A place brimming with sounds of life, of the spirits that inhabited it in the not so distant past. A place full of colors, tastes, and smells. A place where the shadows of the bodies that lived in it still float, trying to go back to the moment before they froze forever. The work moves along a temporal and spatial axis between the past and the present, dance and life. The video dance was worked on in the old city of Nazareth.

The company Shaden Dance Company for Contemporary Dance includes Palestinian dancers between the ages of 18-27. The company strives to be a home for Palestinian dancers who have chosen to specialize in the field of dance and will open a track that will enrich them as artists.

Shaden’s company aims to create a connection with the general public, to perform in public spaces, to put dance at the center, and to stimulate the subject of the body in the political, social, cultural, artistic, and of course in the aesthetic sense.

The founder Shaden Abu Elasal is a dancer, teacher, and choreographer. She lives and works in Nazareth, where she established a set of educational programs and projects surrounding dance. The rationale that guides her is the desire to develop the arts of dance with an emphasis on Arab society, creating a free space for the school’s students, professional development, and specialized accompaniment in the field of performing arts and dance. She has earned a bachelor's degree in dance from the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance (2001). Established and directed the Aida Contemporary Ballet and Dance School, through the Almedina Association which she also initiated. In 2019, she founded the Shaden Dance Company, a professional dance troupe

Part 2:

In may 2020 our beloved Ayman Safiah passes away in tragic circumstances. Ayman (29) was an internationally renowned Palestinian dancer and choreographer who left a deep imprint during his life nd career on many people around the world.

This series of works is a tribute to Ayman’s work and legacy collected and performed by friends and colleagues who will forever “keep moving” for his memory

1- Noah:

Noah, choreographed by Samar Haddad Haddad King and performed by Ayman Safiah, layers themes of love, courage and regret, as one man looks back at his choices. With original text by Samar Haddad King and Sean King, Noah explores sentiments both comical and touching; spanning the depth of a personal history to investigate the moments that make us who we are.


Samar Haddad King, Artistic/Founding Director of Yaa Samar! Dance theatre earned her BFA in choreography at Ailey/Fordham under the tutelage of Kazuko Hirabayashi. King has been commissioned throughout the US and Arab World by Hubbard Street 2 (Chicago, USA); Palest’In and Out Festival (Paris, France); Palestinian Museum (Birzeit, Palestine) and others. She is a 2019/20 Fellow at the Center for Ballet and the Arts at NYU, and co-authored a chapter on dance in the Arab World for the 2nd edition of Contemporary Choreography (Routledge, January 2018). King recently choreographed a musical theater production, We Live in Cairo, Book, Music and Lyrics by Daniel Lazour and Patrick Lazour, produced by American Repertory Theater (Boston).

2- In Memory

Marah Zoabi - Dancer/ performer (Palestine).

Zoabi was trained as a dancer at Al-Amal Dance School, Nazareth. She is a member of the Al Amal Dance School مدرسة الامل للرقص المعاصر company. In 2014, Zoabi joined YSDT for Bound creation where she toured with it locally and internationally. Zoabi took part in different Palestinian and international dance projects and creation, among all: Alqatan Foundation - Ramallah, The Place dance school - London, Les Ballet C de la B- Brussels, Edas - Salzburg.

3- Exit.

This short solo is inspired by the intro of BADKE performance, where Ayman and Yazan opened the performance with a duo on a big stage, Yazan recreates this intro doing it by himself with Ayman'S shadow, presence and sound, commemorating this moment to salute caymans exit from this physical world into a world that would always exist in our minds, souls and memories.

Yazan Iwidat

Choreographer and Dancer from Palestine

Based in Brussels Belgium

Yazan Iwidat is a dancer and choreographer, who has been working professionally in the field of dance and choreography since 2009. He has followed dance classes since the age of 7 in traditional Palestinian dance and then in contemporary dance at Sareyyet Ramallah Dance Company in Palestine. Iwidat has been trained by international choreographers in different dance techniques such as Flying Low, release technique, floor work, Graham, Horton, Contact Improvisation and M&B. He performed in local and international projects, such as the KVS (Keffeyeh/Made in China) and Les Ballets C de la B (Badke) in Belgium, with Sijilholm/Christopherson company (Area Y) in Norway. He started choreographing in 2014, his first performance, Empty Head, was created within the Eye on Palestine Festival in Belgium and Ramallah Contemporary Dance Festival in Palestine. In 2016, Iwidat choreographed his second piece, Running Away, within an artistic residency at Khashabi Theatre مسرح خشبة in Haifa, Palestine.

4- “The Last Act”

In his funeral people welcomed his body with applause as if he were performing for the last time and before taking him off stage people started to clap very loud trying to keep this show going on, not surrendering to the fact that this is his last act.

In this short piece, we try to remember years of working together, five days of searching in the sea and all the memories in between.

SAMAA WAKIM (Palestine, Mi’ilya village, Galilee)

Samaa Wakim graduated from the acting department in Haifa University. She has performed in various local and international plays such as I am Yusuf and This is My Brother a co-production of the ShiberHur - a Palestinian theatre group - and the Young Vic theatre in London 2009; The Beloved, a co-production of ShiberHur and the Bush Theater in London, 2012; Exit, Khashabi ensemble Palestine, 2011-2012; and in various film projects such as the social media video If I Go Back in Time, 2013 and In your absence 2014. Dance credits include choreography (and acting) for Cabaret at Khashabi theatre 2018; and performance in Badke, a co-production between KVS, le ballets C de la B & A.M. Qattan Foundation and directed by Koen Augustijnen, Rosalba Torres & Hildegard De Vuyest 2012-2017; Modern Curses (choreography and performing), 2019; and with Yaa Samar! Dance Theatre since 2014. Samaa was the Assistant Director and performer for Min Tala- a pan Arab dance company - in 2016, and Production Manager of HIFF (Haifa independent film festival), 2018-19.

MOHAMMED SMAHNEH (M. Mohamed .Barges) (Palestine, Askar refugee camp)

Mohammed has won various break-dance battles in Palestine and been involved in many international and local projects including Badke, a co-production between KVS, le ballets C de la B & A.M. Qattan Foundation and directed by Koen Augustijnen, Rosalba Torres & Hildegard De Vuyest (2013-16 Brussels, Belgium and international tours); Nomads Dance Camp directed by Dina Abu Hamdan with choreographers Jorge Cercis, Taoufiq Izzediou, and Samar Haddad King (2014, Jordan); Naji alli with Botega Dance Company directed by Enzo Celli (2009, Italy); Floor wars Battle champion (2012; Copenhagen, Denmark); The Playground by YSDT directed by Samar Haddad King (2013, Palestine and 2018, Belgium); and festivals in Spain and Greece touring Palestinian traditional dance (2004-2005).

5- “When tables will turn”

تريز سليمان | Terez Sliman

is an independent Palestinian singer and songwriter. Her lyrics mirror her belief of focusing on the tiny details, in an attempt to keep on proclaiming the outstanding value of Beauty for the sake of Beauty.

Special thanks:

The palestinian circus school

Khashabi Theatre

Yaa Samar! Dance theatre

Juna Suleiman - Editing

Alla Aliabdallah - Regash Photography