Syria’s civil war and the devastation it has wrought on the country’s people have made headlines around the world since 2011. Images of the strife-ridden nation have been widely broadcast and stories of catastrophe and struggle have been at the forefront.
A group of young dancers in Latakia, Syria, is hoping to inspire change in the face of this conflict. They call themselves Dare, and they are taking to the streets of the country to restore what they call the pulse and atmosphere of life in Syria.
In their performances, Dare remains conscious of Syria’s conservative culture and traditions. The group says they have been met with a positive response so far; if the dancing was viewed as an opposition to the government, the response may have been much worse. Some artists have been imprisoned, tortured, and killed for creating works that opposed the Syrian government. Others left the country, and in 2014 the New York Times called Beirut, Lebanon the “de facto capital of the Syrian contemporary art scene” because of the influx of people fleeing the war.
The group told Storyful they wanted to “dare to live their lives the way they wanted, by using dancing as a method of change.”
“Every new thing will be faced with objection at the beginning as it is not understood yet, but perhaps after a short time dancing in the streets will become a normal thing and change the opinion of people who criticize it,” they said.
In the video above, some dancers move through different simple motions on their own or side-by-side with other participants. Other dancers perform the tango nuevo, a modern version of the Argentine tango, in pairs and mix in more advanced moves and lifts. The country’s traditional dance forms, which weren’t included in these particular performances, include the Samah dance, the Dabke, and their own version of sword dancing.
Partnered dancing relies on a strong connection between two dancers, while individual moves performed solo can be learned ahead of time. Studies show that dancing has a positive impact on physical and mental health, and can help people form social bonds—a lifeline in a country that has lost so much.