The Syrian Yara Al-Hasbani dances the movements of exile

Syrian dancer and choreographer Yara Al-Hasbani during a rehearsal of

She dances with a niqab that covers her eyes but not her mouth, a symbol of an oppression that she has never stopped denouncing since she has been in France. On June 24, Yara Al-Hasbani, a 29-year-old Syrian refugee, will present a few minutes of her latest choreography, Elham (“inspiration”, in Arabic), at the Opéra-Comique in Paris.

That evening, the Pierre Claver Association, which helps asylum seekers in their formalities and accompanies them in learning French, will celebrate its 15th anniversary by honoring the dancer, prize 2022 of the Academy of Fine Arts in Paris for his show, and three other refugees: Kianoush Ramezani, Iranian press cartoonist, LiberPress 2022 prize for freedom of expression; Abdulmonam Eassa, Syrian photographer, Bayeux 2022 prize for war reporting; and Mursal Sayas, Afghan, author of a testimony on the condition of women in her country of origin, to be published by Editions de l’Observatoire in September 2023.

The first French memory of Yara Al-Hasbani brings her back to the Parisian ring road, one evening in winter 2015. She finds them cold, ugly, gray, these residential bars that line the circular boulevards of the capital. Yara Al-Hasbani imagined pretty little houses, alleys of greenery. What she discovers, her face glued to the window of the car that takes her from Roissy airport, shatters her heart in despair. Everything here looks so little like his dream…

Tortured, his father dies in prison

Yara Al-Hasbani, her mother, older sister and younger brother arrive from Turkey. They have just spent a year there, after fleeing their country of origin, Syria. It was not the civil war that drove them out of Damascus – “it’s the revolution” against power, corrects the young woman, who recounts her journey of exile in a Parisian café. She says she had no choice. In 2014, his father, a guard in a company, was arrested by the police of dictator Bashar Al-Assad for his support for the victims of repression. Tortured, he died in prison. The young woman, very involved in the student demonstrations, is in turn threatened. He must leave so as not to suffer the same fate.

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First Turkey, therefore, while waiting to obtain a visa for France. Then a home in Créteil, which Yara Al-Hasbani finds as dirty as the landscape, and very quickly an apartment in Rochefort (Charente-Maritime), obtained with the support of L’Escale, a reception center for asylum seekers . Eight months later, Yara Al-Hasbani and her family settled in La Rochelle. The young woman resumed contemporary dance, which she studied at the Higher Institute of Dramatic Art in Damascus. She puts on her first choreographies, tries to express with her body the emotions that she cannot yet express with words.

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