Working with Samar and Zoe was one of the most valuable residency experiences I've had at UVa. My mind was constantly stimulated by the level of intention and detail they put into the composition of movements we learned and I feel incredibly grateful for the opportunity to dance a short adaptation of Yaa Samar! Dance Theatre's works.

-  Erika Choe, student at University of Virginia

Samar and Zoe possess a patience and dedication to their art that is evident in the way they work with their performers. I never felt that I was ever letting them down, or embarrassed to ask for clarification. They worked to make this a personal experience for every dancer participating, which in turn created a uniquely united piece. It was such an honor to work with them as artists, but also to get to know them as people. They were remarkably insightful when we had questions about movement, intention, and life. This experience presented a new way for me to look at dance.

Mackenzie Regan, student at University of Virginia

The process the dancers went through creating Getting there, staying here. was transforming. I watched Samar push the second company both physically and emotionally. There was a visible growth of artistry…I am excited to see the continuation of that growth with the performance of her work.

Taryn Kaschock Russell, former Hubbard Street 2 Director



Focusing on core strength, alignment, and creative expression, YSDT's classes offer an environment of technical and artistic exploration for dancers of all levels. Drawing on classical and contemporary dance techniques as well as the related arts of yoga and Pilates, YSDT technique classes challenge participants to connect to their core in order to find an authentic and organic source of movement. Dancers are given the freedom to investigate movement phrases through choreographic and improvisational tools that allow them to inhabit their own movement more fully and to find new solutions for problems of phrasing, intent, and technical ability.


With over 25 pieces of original choreography ranging from 6 to 75 minutes in length, Yaa Samar! Dance Theatre repertory includes solo, small ensemble and group work that can accommodate any student population. True to the collaborative nature of the company, YSDT constructs a creative environment that draws on input from the participants while maintaining the integrity of the choreographed work. Dancers are coached in areas of technique, partnering and musicality as well as intention and dramatic content.

Classes for children:

Encouraging balance, coordination and healthy habits alongside creative tools for self-expression, YSDT's children's dance classes offer a safe environment for students to explore the world of movement through fun movement phrases, improvisation and games.

Scenario-based Composition to Engage, Nurture, and Empower:

SCENE Workshops offer creative movement skills to non-dancers in order to enhance participants’ critical thinking, creative problem solving and leadership skills. Created and conducted by Samar Haddad King and Yaa Samar! Dance Theatre.

TARGETED POPULATIONS: Yaa Samar! Dance Theatre is committed to working with underserved youth communities including high school students, incarcerated minors, survivors of abuse, and young adults with developmental disabilities. SCENE workshops empower these populations with tools for creative self-expression and encourage participants to think critically to solve problems both individually and as a group.

Read some testimony from past workshops!

Personal Narrative:

YSDT’s personal narrative workshops introduce students without a dance background to the choreographic process through the complimentary action of written composition. Students first write a personal narrative/story which serves as the foundation for their composition, and over the course of the workshop learn how movement and choreographic structure can convey narrative and emotion.

TARGETED POPULATIONS: Yaa Samar! Dance Theatre is committed to working with underserved youth communities including high school students, incarcerated minors, refugees, survivors of abuse, and young adults with developmental disabilities. Personal Narrative workshops are appropriate for all students ages 8-18.

Read and see video from some of YSDT's other outreach workshops!



✶Basic creative movement skills; increased strength, enhanced body awareness and coordination. ✶Improvisational methods and choreographic/composition skills ✶The ability to think critically to solve create problems ✶Peer leadership skills and the ability to work collectively within a group ✶Tools for constructive criticism with peers

Photo by: Raof Haj-yihia


University Residencies:

Yaa Samar! Dance Theatre offers improvisation and composition workshops for dance and theater students at the university level ranging from 4 days to 2 weeks. Focusing on narrative as the starting point for composition, participants explore theme, character and intention as an impetus to create movement. This residency is designed to meet and challenge students wherever they are in their technical training and physical practice for the creation of an original performance piece. Yaa Samar! Dance Theatre also offers public lectures on their innovative methods developed to create art across physical and political barriers. These multi-media presentations include footage of the creative process, clips and images of source material as well as final performances, and a conversation with the artists, featuring artists from abroad via video conference. Discussions cover topics ranging from dance, theater, music, production, and new media, to Middle East and international studies. This unique offering spans several departments and areas of interest within the university, and has the potential to touch the wider campus community.

Choreographic Residencies:

Yaa Samar! Dance Theatre Artistic Director Samar Haddad King accepts choreographic residencies for the creation of new work in collaboration with a group of professional performing artists. Previous residencies include work with Configuration Dance Company in Cape Cod, the Dewan Platform in Jordan and Hubbard Street 2 in Chicago.

Local Artists Initiative:

Yaa Samar! Dance Theatre’s Local Artists Initiative aims to serve those dancers, actors and musicians who make up the already existing group of performance artists in a community. Designed with both professional and pre-professional artists in mind, LAI workshops seek to promote understanding and social change through performance art. Intensive rehearsals combine dancers and musicians in an interactive and collaborative environment for the creation of an original music/dance piece, culminating in a live performance at a local theater. Combining contemporary dance technique, choreography and improvisation, the workshop provides the necessary tools to create and edit dance and music outside of the workshop environment, while expanding local interest and broadening the audience base for dance by showcasing local artists in performance.