Behind the Chrysalis

We start this life young and uninhibited; we do whatever comes to mind; we say things without a second thought; we are unafraid and curious; we live uninhibited and arguably our true selves; this is the essence of Chapter 8 and its first collection "Dancing out of the Chrysalis". This collection is about how Fashion and Dance have always been part of my identity. I have suppressed the parts of myself as I grew more conscious of the world, only to reclaim these parts when I dared to be myself.

Although Chapter 8 is rooted in my own experience, I believe it resonates with countless others. It is a tale of transformation, an emergence into truth and authenticity. It is a celebration of the power of being oneself, of living authentically with generosity of heart.

True to the collection's theme, the making of the film was also a vibrant experience of authenticity and collaboration in all of its parts.

The song "Al Ain Moulayiten" has always been one of my favourite songs, and it is linked to celebrations where I danced Dabke. It is a dance by nature that asks us to link arms with strangers and loved ones and be united in dance. I remember, as a child, moving to the rhythm, missing the steps, and jumping more than stomping. However, the feeling of being myself in this excitement and being surrounded with admiration was a feeling that always came to mind upon hearing the song.

Collaborating with Bedouin Burger (Zaid Hamdan and Lynn Adib), we created a cover of the song "Al Ain Moulayetein." Zaid reimagined the song with contemporary elements while retaining its traditional essence, while Lynn's vocals took us to a trance-like state. The combination created a soft yet powerful presence throughout the film.

Dabke's origins are when villagers used to form a line and join hands to stomp mud into place. I always thought of the dance for the film as a unified movement of one body rather than individual dancers. I was inspired by the work of the dance troupe the Mayyas and their choreographer, Nadim Cherfane. Their work took contemporary and national dance to new inspirational places and perfectly embodied the communal spirit and transformation I aimed to depict.

To create the film's visuals, I worked with my trusted friend and long-time collaborator, Elie Fahed, to bring the images and tone to life.

What mattered most to me was that everything in the film stood for something, and this came down to the simplest details, like assigning looks to our models that complemented their characters. On the day of the shoot, there were so many emotions of joy and community.

"Dancing Out of the Chrysalis" is a metaphorical film about how far I've come since that video of me as a boy wearing a vest dancing at a wedding. Where the difference once caused discomfort, it now graces the world with its presence.

Written by Mahmoud El Safadi  
Photographed by Mohamad Al-Rifai