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Working Title     

Paradigm Shift: The struggle to (re)structure, (re)achieve and (re)member Al-Sarab 

Photograph taken by Jad Melki


Nadra Assaf and Jimmy Bechara are two dance artists based in Lebanon and linked together through a very intricate history. They have been moving in each other’s paths for 30 years. Assaf was Bechara’s teacher for 15 years. Then she was his mentor for 5 years. For the last 10 years Bechara has been Assaf’s colleague. Over a span of 30 years, Assaf and Bechara interacted, grew, shared, learned and performed together. In October 2019, Lebanon experienced the beginning of what has proven to be one of the worst periods in Lebanon’s history since the civil war which ended in 1992. The appearance of COVID-19 only exasperated the situation. This project is born of the totality of this dilemma.

Project Description                    

Moving Al-Sarab into the future is a major aspect in the plight of Dance Artists Nadra Assaf and Jimmy Bechara. Al-Sarab is the school that Assaf initiated in 1991. Bechara and his brother were the first 2 students to enrol in the school. At that time Bechara was just 3 years old and Assaf was 28. On January 13th 2021 amidst a pandemic (globally) and economic devastation, total political breakdown and a major demoralizing explosion (locally), Al-Sarab turned 30. Facing financial ruin from the aforementioned chaos and loss of students due to the vast amount of immigration; the future of the institution seems vague. As the artist search for answers, a guiding question in the work is ‘where do we go from here’ with a secondary question being ‘how do we move into a future that is so uncertain?’ This project focuses on both the micro and macro scale of the performative while simultaneously investigating the uncontrollable in our world today with hope of finding ways to bring the old into the new. Based on research into other art practices globally, what the artists are experiencing is not a situation that is unique to Lebanon, Al-Sarab, and Lebanese dancers. Thus, Assaf and Bechara hope that by investigating, performing, documenting and sharing their predicament, they might help others to find alternative paths into a new future of their own.

Artistic Practice             

Launching from January 2021, every month the artists will highlight some item along their timeline. “Moving back to move forward” will be the predominate paradigm in Assaf and Bechara’s work.   


Project Site       

The project will be a combination of archived material, new performance material in site specific locations, journal writing, and photography documentation. 

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