yaa | ya (y+AH): to call or attract; often said before calling someone’s name to get their attention.

samar (‘sum’ + ‘are’): evening conversation, sleepless night, night of entertainment

MISSION Yaa Samar! Dance Theatre (YSDT)'s mission is to create invigorating performance and education programs that expand access to - and promote understanding through - the arts. VISION YSDT believes art should be liberating, transformative, and accessible to all. The company operates out of the United States and Arab World and is committed to uniting diverse artists and audiences in the creative process. Non/static aesthetics performance in Jaba HISTORY Since 2005, YSDT has taught and performed in ten countries across four continents, and fostered the careers of over 50 emerging artists, with a repertoire of more than 30 original performances including solos, small ensemble and group works. New York City area performances have included venues and festivals such as: Baryshnikov Arts Center, Downtown Dance Festival, Jacob’s Pillow, Joyce SoHo, Harlem Stage, LaGuardia Performing Arts Center, Tribeca Performing Arts Center, Queens Museum of Art, Teatro LATEA, and Whitewave Festival. Following eight years of NYC programming, YSDT established a secondary base in Palestine in 2012. The company has since developed groundbreaking methods of working across cultural and geographic borders which have been covered in Dance Magazine, The Huffington Post, and Hyperallergic, among others. Abroad, the company has taught and performed at international universities and festivals, museums, UN refugee schools, and site-specific locations throughout Belgium, France, Germany, Japan, Jordan, Palestine, South Korea, and Tunisia. Against a Hard Surface Sun Board of Directors Kristine Covillo (President)
Rhoda Kanaaneh
Samar Haddad King
Ryan King (Treasurer)
Sana Odeh
Zoe Rabinowitz (Secretary)
Nathan Trice
Dave Welty
not/tob by Alaa Khanger SUPPORT YSDT has been awarded residencies from Baryshnikov Arts Center, Chaillot - théâtre national de la Danse (Paris, France), Dance Initiative (Carbondale, CO), Jacob's Pillow, LaGuardia Performing Arts Center, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Palestinian Museum, Queens Museum of Art, and Tribeca Performing Arts Center; and grants by the A.M. Qattan Foundation, al-Mawred al-Thaqaafi, American Dance Abroad, Arab Fund for Arts and Culture, Bossak/Heilbron Charitable Foundation, Dance Advancement Fund, Dance/NYC Covid Relief, FACE Foundation and the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the United States, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, Manhattan Community Arts Fund, Mosaic Network & Fund in the New York Community Trust, National Endowment for the Arts, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, NYC COVID-19 Response & Impact Fund in The New York Community Trust, New York Foundation for the Arts, New York Live Arts Suitcase Fund, and the O’Donnell-Green Music & Dance Foundation.









“Samar Haddad King deftly melds styles from hip-hop and ballet to social dance and acrobatics.”

- Hedy Weiss, Chicago Sun Times

Samar headshot Samar Haddad King Artistic Director Samar Haddad King, Artistic/Founding Director of Yaa Samar! Dance Theatre (YSDT), graduated cum laude in choreography from the Ailey/Fordham BFA program under the tutelage of Kazuko Hirabayashi. With YSDT, King has created over 30 original works which have been performed in 10 countries across 4 continents. Awards and commissions include: Hubbard Street 2 – National Choreography Competition; Palest’In & OUT Festival (Paris, France) – Prix des Jeunes Créateurs Palestiniens pour la Diversité des Expressions Artistiques award; and the Palestinian Museum (Palestine) among others. In 2018 King was awarded La Fabrique Chaillot residency at Chaillot – théâtre national de la danse (Paris, France) for the development of Last Ward. She regularly lectures on her work at institutions including TanzKongress (Hanover, Germany), University of Virginia (Charlottesville, Virginia), and Columbia University Center for Palestine Studies (New York, New York), and co-authored a chapter on dance in the Arab World with Sandra Noeth for the 2nd edition of Contemporary Choreography (Routledge, January 2018). Samar recently finished choreographing the musical theatre production We Live in Cairo; Book, Music and Lyrics by Daniel Lazour and Patrick Lazour and produced by American Repertory Theater and is currently a Fellow at the Center for Ballet and the Arts at NYU. Location: New York City + Palestine
Zoe headshot Zoe Rabinowitz Associate Artistic Director/Performer Projects with YSDT: Last Ward, The Playground, Against a Hard Surface, bound, Frozen Belief, Hiyaat Noor, Lahom fil Hiyaat, Layered Identity, Liquid Renaissance, Skirt Dance, The Store, Still/Moving, Ummi

Zoe Rabinowitz is the Associate Artistic Director and a founding member of Yaa Samar! Dance Theatre. Originally from Vermont, Zoe graduated from the Walnut Hill School for the Arts and earned her BFA in Dance from the Ailey/Fordham BFA program, with additional studies at De Amsterdamse Hogeschool voor de Kunsten in the Netherlands. As a freelance dance artist, she has performed with artists and companies such as INSPIRIT: a dance company, JoAnna Mendl Shaw/ Equus Projects, Kristina Isabelle, MBDance, The Movement Party, Nia Love/ Blacksmith’s Daughter, Urban Bush Women, and Anne Zuerner. Her own work for stage and film has been presented throughout NYC and the US, and abroad in Austria, Bulgaria, Germany, Mexico, and South Korea. She recently finished working on We Live in Cairo as Associate Choreographer at The American Repertory Theater. For more information about Zoe visit her website: www.zoerabinowitz.com
Location: New York City
Yukari Osaka Performer Projects with YSDT: Against a Hard Surface, Among the Ruins, bound, Frozen Belief, Hiyaat Noor, Layered Identity, Skirt Dance, The Store, Last Ward, The Playground

Yukari Osaka is a dancer, performer, choreographer, and dance instructor originally from Kobe, Japan. Yukari began her ballet training with Shibata Dance Studio and continued with Sadamatsu-Hamada Ballet School where she joined their professional ballet company. After she completed the Independent Study Program at The Ailey School in NYC, she joined Yaa Samar! Dance Theatre as a founding member in 2005. She has performed a wide range of works by choreographers such as Emmanuel Brown, Nikolai Fedorov, Dou Dou Huang, Ricky Jackson, Samar Haddad King, Anthony Murphy, Yuri Ng, Christopher Rudd, and Susan Tenney. Yukari has appeared in opera “Les Contes D’Hoffmann” at the Metropolitan Opera (NY), musical “Phantom’” as the role of Fleure (WI), and numerous dance/theatre festivals including Dance Biennale Tokyo (Japan), Jacob’s Pillow Inside/Out Festival (MA) and Theater Der Welt (Germany). She has offered ballet and contemporary dance classes and workshops to diverse dancers and performers internationally. Yukari is also a director of Enterart; a performing art project based in Kobe, Japan. For more information, visit her website at www.yukariosaka.com.
Location: New York City + Japan
Yousef headshot Yousef Sbeih Perfomer Projects with YSDT: Against a Hard Surface, The Playground, Last Ward

Past: Yousef Sbeih is a Jerusalem, Palestine based dancer. He received a BA degree in Marketing & Business from Birzeit University (2015), and participated in Yante Youth, Art & Levante, I-Can-Move training of trainers program to become a Community Dance Trainer in 2014-15. In 2016 Yousef worked as a dance teacher at Sareyyet Ramallah as well as a trainer and Staff member in the production of AJAL performance in Berlin. He has performed in several productions including: Maqamat Beit El Raqs Dance week in chouf, Lebanon (2016), Intifada#3 (2016), Opening of the Palestinian museum (2016), Sideways Rain (2016), Smoked Fish (2015), Serendipity (2014). Yousef was an apprentice with Carte Blanche–The Norwegian National Company of Contemporary Dance in 2017.
Location: Jerusalem, Palestine
Mohammed headshot Mohammed Smahneh Performer Projects with YSDT:  bound, The Playground, Against a Hard Surface, Last Ward

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 Crecis, 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). Mohammed is currently touring with B by Koen Augustijnen and Rosalba Torres Guerrero.
Location: Palestine, Askar refugee camp  
Samaa headshot Samaa Wakim Performer Project with YSDT: non/static aesthetics, bound, Against a Hard Surface, Last Ward

Samaa Wakim graduated from 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 Shiber Hur -a Palestinian theatre group- and the Young Vic theater in London 2009; The Beloved, a co production of Shiber Hur and the Bush Theater  in London, 2012; Exit, Khashabi ensemble Palestine, 2011-2012; acted and choreographed movement for Cabaret show at Khashabi theatre 2018; She also has acted in various film projects such as the social media video If I Go Back in Time, 2013 and In your absence 2014. 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; bound, with YSDT directed by Samar Haddad King 2014-2016. Samaa is currently working with theatre director Bashar Murkus on their first co-directing theatre dance piece.
Location: Palestine, Mi’ilya village, Gallilie
Muqata'a headshot Muqata'a Composer Projects with YSDT: bound, Against a Hard Surface

Muqata’a is a musician and MC based in Ramallah, Palestine. Creating sounds using sampled material, field recordings, and electronic devices, the results range between hip-hop, downtempo, and glitch He has composed and produced music for artists such as Kronos Quartet, Bukue One, Jehst, Tamer Abu-Ghazaleh and others, and has appeared as an MC on albums for artists such as Heliodrome, Slovo, Bonnot, and Beatoven to name a few. Co-founder of the Ramallah Underground Collective which has toured across the Arab World, Europe, and Australia, until the collective split up in 2009. Muqata’a is also co-founder and member of audio-visual group Tashweesh, with whom he is currently touring. He has composed several international and local film scores, as well as dance theater performances, and is now working on different collaborative and solo projects. Currently he is touring with Tashweesh and working on several collaborative and solo projects. More information at http://muqataa.com.
Location: Ramallah, Palestine Frequent Collaborator with YSDT
Nizar headshot Amir Nizar Zuabi Director and Writer Projects with Samar Haddad King: Against a Hard Surface (YSDT), Last Ward (YSDT), Opening of the Palestinian Museum, Dry Mud, a visual concert (Shiber Hur); Azza (Shibur Hur) and The Lanterns of the King Galilee and Asmahan (Palestinian National Theatre el-Hakawati)

Amir Nizar Zuabi is an award winning Theater writer & Director and Artistic Director of ShiberHur theater company, an associated director of Young Vic London, and a member of the United Theaters Europe for artistic achievement. Writing and directing credits include I am Yusuf and This is my Brother, In the Penal Colony, Alive From Palestine, Oh My Sweet Land, The Beloved,(co-produced by ShiberHur/Young Vic) Azza, West of us the sea, Mid Spring Musical, Dry Mud (ShiberHur), and Against A Hard Surface (YSDT). Directing credits includes: Samson and Delilah (Flanders Opera, Antwerp) Jidarriya by Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish (Edinburgh International Festival, Bouffes du Nord and world tour). Forget Herostratus, le Mallade Imaginer, War or More, Sneeze, Deep Sorrow, Fall Tale, When The World Was Green, The Lanterns Of The King Of Galilee, Taha, Comedy of Errors (Royal Shakespeare Company). Current: Currently Zuabi is writing a play for the National Theatre London.
Location: Yaffa, Palestine Frequent Collaborator with YSDT
Muaz headshot Muaz Al-Jubeh Lighting Designer Project with YSDT: bound, Against a Hard Surface, Last Ward

Muaz Aljubeh is a Jerusalem based, Palestinian lighting designer who has been working in the field since 1995. He was the technical director for Al-Kasaba Theatre and Cinematheque for almost 20 years and is currently the technical director for the Ramallah Contemporary Dance Festival since its founding in 2006. He has created light for more than 30 local productions, which have toured nationally and internationally. His work has been seen in notable theaters and festivals such as Tokyo Art International Festival (Japan), Carthage theatrical Days Festival (Tunisia), Young Vic Theatre (United Kingdom), The Avignon Festival (France), and the Institute De La Monde Arab (France). Currently, Muaz is touring Taha, Azza, Where Can I Find Someone Like You, Ali?, and Against a Hard Surface.
Location: Jerusalem, Palestine Frequent Collaborator with YSDT
Samar small headshot Zoe small headshot Yousef small headshot Barges small headshot Samaa small headshot Muqata'a headshot People Nizar small headshot Muaz headshot

“The YSDT dancers move like this often, tender yet aggressive; tenacious yet desperate. The body subverts itself, becoming both weapon and wound.”

- Cleo Abramian, Hyperallergic

Touring works

"Samar Haddad King’s propulsive choreography [is] equal parts rave stomping and sensuous writhing."

- Bob Verini, New York Stage Review


“The process the dancers went through creating Getting there, staying here was transforming. I watched Samar push the [Hubbard Street] second company both physically and emotionally. There was a visible growth of artistry.”

- Taryn Kaschock Russell,  The Juilliard School

The Playground in Brussels 9 Against a Hard Surface Samaa Yukari Yukari/Sara bound 2011

Summer 2020

Ayman Safiah Tribute Performance (virtual)
39th Annual Battery Dance Festival
August 16 @ 7pm EDT (available online through August 27)
Register here

Summer intensive with high school students in Ramallah and Jerusalem
Canceled due to COVID-19

YSDT Master Class: Against a Hard Surface (English)
The first in a series of FREE online repertory master classes with YSDT artists featuring material from a repertory of over 30 original works, led by founding company member Yukari Osaka.

Fall 2020

NYC performances of Last Ward at Gibney
Postponed to 2021 due to COVID-19

Noah solo featuring the late Ayman Safiah (virtual)
Toronto Palestine Film Festival
September 24 @ 9pm EDT (available through September 27)

YSDT Masterclass: The Bridge
Associate Artistic Director Zoe Rabinowitz invited Guest Teacher as part of the Nai-Ni Chen Virtual Dance Institute
October 2 @ 11am EDT
Register here

YSDT Master Class: Against a Hard Surface (Japanese)
The first in a series of FREE online repertory master classes with YSDT artists featuring material from a repertory of over 30 original works, led by founding company member Yukari Osaka.

In this new dance film project, 12 artists from around the world tell a story about a journey that shaped their life using narration, choreography, and a subjective camera aimed at providing an intimate experience of the performers’ inner and outer world. Created in collaboration between Samar Haddad King and Brooklyn-based award-winning Writer/Director Eimi Imanishi, this work in progress is currently in post-production and will be available online later this year.

“King's choreography is dynamic and athletic"

- Nancy Grossman, Broadway World

Fida AHHS by Ahmad Alrifae PERFORMANCE Nuit Blanche Festival, Brussels, Belgium (2018)
Palest’In & Out Festival, Paris, France (2015, 2018)
Theatre der Welt Festival, Hamburg, Germany (2017)
Ramallah Contemporary Dance Festival, Ramallah, Palestine (2007, 2010, 2014, 2017)
Palestinian Museum Opening, Bir Zeit, Palestine (2016)
Spring Festival, Tunis, Tunisia (2016)
Seoul International Dance Festival, Seoul, South Korea (2015)
Qalandya International Festival, Ramallah, Palestine (2014)
Joyce SoHo, New York, NY, USA (2005, 2006, 2012)
Zakharef in Motion Festival, Amman, Jordan (2007, 2010)
LaGuardia Performing Arts Center, Queens, NY, USA (2008, 2009, 2010)
Jacob’s Pillow, Becket, MA, USA (2009)
Harlemstage, New York, NY, USA (2005, 2009)
Queens Museum of Art, New York, NY, USA (2007)
Tribeca Performing Arts Center (2005)
Against a Hard Surface Barges RESIDENCIES Center for Ballet and the Arts at NYU, New York, NY (2020)
Jacob's Pillow, Becket, MA (2019)
Middlebury College, Middlebury, VT (2019)
Chaillot - théâtre national de la Danse, Paris, France (2018)
Baryshnikov Arts Center, New York, NY (2018)
Dance Initiative, Carbondale, CO (2018)
Palestinian Museum, Bir Zeit, Palestine (2017)
LaGuardia Performing Arts Center, Queens, NY (2008/9 & 2010/11)
Queens Museum, Queens, NY (2007)
Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, New York, NY (2005/6)
Zoe teaching Colorado TEACHING/LECTURES New York University, New York, NY (2020)
Kobe Art Village Center, Kobe, Japan (2015, 2018, 2019)
University of Massachusetts Boston, MA, USA (2019)
Middlebury College, Middlebury, VT, USA (2019)
The Ailey School, New York, NY, USA (2018)
Fordham University, New York, NY, USA (2017)
Columbia University, New York, NY, USA (2016)
Tanzkongress, Hannover, Germany (2016)
Chonbuk National University, Jeonju, South Korea (2015)
University of Virginia, Charlottesville, USA (2014)
Staten Island Youth and Justice Center, Staten Island, NY, USA (2012, 2013)
Lou Conte Dance Studio, Chicago, IL, USA (2009)
Dance International NY, Burgos, Spain (2006)
Mountain Star Rehabilitation Center, Surda, Palestine (2006)
bound Sabrina Sara PRESS DIY Dancer Article: We live in Cairo: Samar Haddad King choreographs the Arab Spring (April 2019)
Dance Magazine Article: Is It Actually Possible to Choreograph Remotely? Featuring YSDT (August 2018)
Institute for Middle East Understanding (IMEU) Feature on YSDT Artistic Director, Samar Haddad King (August 2018)
Ubiquité culture(s) Review on presentation of new work (June 2018)
L’Humanité Review on presentation of new work (June 2018)
Hyperallergic Review on presentation in Colorado and interview with Samar Haddad King and Zoe Rabinowitz (June 2018)
Aspen Public Radio Interview with Samar Haddad King, Zoe Rabinowitz and Amir Nizar Zuabi (April 2018)
KDNK Community Radio Interview with Associate Artistic Director, Zoe Rabinowitz (April 2018)
The Sopris Sun feature on new work/company (March 2018)
Dance Advancement Fund Recipient press release  (October 2017)
Dance Magazine Feature about the company (June 2017)
Thalia Theater blog review Against a Hard Surface (June 2017)
Stance on Dance interview with Samar Haddad King (June 2017)
Hamburger Adenblatt Review Against a Hard Surface (June 2017)
Theater Development Fund “Dance as Political Act” mention (May 2017)
Huffington Post Feature about the company(February 2011)

“[YSDT] defines the space within which human relationships take place. They shape the landscape of expectation and hope.... What ensues is unique, free of easy classification, and beautiful."

- Sara J. Hart, Explore Dance


“The combination of the dramatic subject matter and the technical ability and experience of [King's] dancers makes for an undeniable explosive combination.”

-Amanda Keller, idanz