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Un|Controlled Gestures - 3rd Edition

Tunis_Aufführung_Uncontrolled© Goethe-Institut


“Un|Controlled Gestures - 3rd Edition” is a regional project of the Goethe-Institut in cooperation with HAU Hebbel am Ufer in Berlin, curated by Nedjma Hadj Benchelabi. Joining the main curator are Petra Poelzl (curator for dance and performance at HAU Hebbel am Ufer), Ali Chahrour (dancer and choreographer), Nancy Mounir (musician and composer) and Nermin Habib (dancer and choreographer). Together, this team will accompany the eight participating choreographers from Arabic-speaking countries to develop their reflections on the project’s central question: "In which ways do we inscribe ourselves in, break or transmit our heritages?"

With this inquiry, the participants’ work starts: They examine their own memories and their relationships to them. To those memories that lie just below the surface, accessible and tangible; and to those that are almost forgotten, hidden and ephemeral. To the intimate ones that are the most personal; and to the collective memories, that are shared and connective. To those that were passed on despite all obstacles; to those that were loved and celebrated; and to those that on purpose were forgotten. The artists set out to find those memories that remain unwritten and unspoken, yet inscribed in bodies, in gestures and movements.

Together, curators, mentors, and participants immerse themselves in dance practices from different times and places. Working in an interdisciplinary way, questioning heritage and memory as well as traditions of transmission, the choreographers will find new places from which to share their experiences and knowledge.

After an initial online meeting in January and first insights into the mentors' practices and the project's working methods and schedule, a four-week residency will take place in Cairo from January 21st to February 17th, during which the participants will engage with the all-pervasive presence of the city - a unique entity in collective history and at the same time an enormous body of stone, sounds and people with whom this space is shared. On February 14th, the "work in progress" solos developed during the residency will be performed. The final phase of the project will follow in June:

In a second residency taking place for ten days in Berlin, the participants will once again work closely with curators and mentors. Marking the end of the residency is a showing of the further developed projects at HAU Hebbel am Ufer.


Akka Hamdan

A Palestinian-Jordanian Multidisciplinary artist and designer, specializing in contemporary folk dance. Her solo performance narrates Akka's personal story, named after a city she cannot visit. The performance delves into the concept of place-based belonging, exploring feelings of connection and separation. It raises questions about how the memories of her ancestors and her contemporary experiences have shaped her identity.

Islam Elarabi

Islam Elarabi is an Egyptian dancer, instructor and choreographer. Born and raised in Giza city, he has witnessed the evolution of Mahrganat music and dance as he grew up. Islam found inspiration in Mahrganat dance movements as they developed into a rich vocabulary of meaning and into the tools for the instantaneous creation of a storyline. In his project, Islam is experimenting with the many faces of Mahrganat dance.

Jamal Suleiman

Jamal is a Jordanian artist, dancer, choreographer, and director. With a solid academic background in risk management, Jamal brings a unique blend of analytical thinking and creative expression to his work. He is committed to pushing the boundaries of performing arts and creating captivating performances that inspire and move audiences by raising awareness towards psychosocial urban issues. Whether performing, choreographing, directing, or managing projects, Jamal is always eager to embrace new challenges and opportunities for artistic expression.

Mohamed Bouriri

Mohamed Bouriri, a Moroccan dancer known as "Polini," found his dance passion in Casablanca at 14, excelling in break dancing with We The Lions and earning acclaim as the "Best Moroccan Crew." His journey expanded in 2018 with Cie 2KAFAR, leading to performances for the Moroccan royal family. Collaborating with prestigious companies, Mohamed fuses urban and contemporary dance in notable works. Beyond stages, he mentors and teaches dance, leaving an indelible global mark.

Mohanad Smama

Mohanad Smama studied at the Faculty of Physical Education from Gaza City, and one of the pioneers of contemporary performing arts in the Gaza Strip. From 2007, he has been part of the his hip-hop scene, and later on He founded a collective dancing team in Gaza, called "Hai Team for Contemporary Arts".

Nagham Salah Othman

Nagham Salah Othman is a Sudanese dancer interested in the fusion between contemporary and traditional African dances. She is one of the teachers in the PTP contemporary dance, was among the participants in the “SEEDS” program for the Trainings of Trainers, and teaches afrocontemporary dance in several studios. She started choreographing in 2010 and collaborated with other artists as a dancer, while participating in several festivals. Nagham’s project is inquiring about identity in between cultures, about dance both in Sudanese and Egyptian contexts.

Sarah Almoneem

Sarah Almoneem is a Syrian choreographer and performer. In 2023, she performed her first performance called -There- which is about transitions and their impact on the people living them. Now she is starting on her second solo in which she explores the changes in her body and her relationship with memories stemming from herself, the cities she lived in, the illusions and the panic attacks after approaching her third decade.

Safa Baluchi

Safa Baluchi, an Omani interdisciplinary artist, explores identity, self-environment dynamics through performance, fashion, visual art, and installations. Rooted in her Baloch heritage, she draws inspiration from ancestral practices and diverse cultural exposure. Safa's artistic journey is a
continuous evolution, marked by questioning and expression, shaped by her ethnic background and engagement with the digital realm. With the Juniper tree in Baluchistan as a starting point, her project is asking questions about witnessing and belonging.


Nedjma Hadj Benchelabi © Goethe Institut

Nedjma Hadj Benchelabi

Born in Algiers and operating from Brussels, Nedjma Hadj Benchelabi is a curator and dramaturge. Until 2013, she was programmer at the European Cultural Centre, Les Halles, where she contributed to a program on Contemporary Literature and Performing arts of the Arab world. She was involved as the guest curator in the ‘Arab Art Focus’ at Downtown Contemporary Arts Festival (D-CAF, Cairo, 2016-2018), and curator at the multidisciplinary festival, Tashweesh with the Goethe-Institut in Cairo, and at the Beurschouwburg in Brussels. From 2019 onwards, she has been the curator of Mahmoud Darwish Legacy program, a multidisciplinary platform from Brussels and beyond. Recently, she is the dramaturgical advisor for the curation of the festival program of Tanz August (August 2023, Berlin) and Taklif at the Festival “On Marche” in Marrakech..

Petra Poelzl

Petra Poelzl is an Austrian curator, dramaturge and researcher, based in Berlin. Poelzl is working as a curator for dance and performance at HAU Hebbel am Ufer (Berlin), where she co-curated the festival "Spirits, Jinns & Avatars: On Magic in the Digital Age" as well as the upcoming festival "Love is a Verb". She has been working for Steirischer Herbst Festival for New Art in Graz (Austria) as well as for Wiener Festwochen (Austria). Poelzl has been guest lecturer at the Free University of Berlin as well as Academy of Applied Arts Vienna and Academy of Fine Arts Vienna.


Ali Chahrour

Born in Beirut, the choreographer and dancer Ali Chahrour, invents a gesture, freed from Western codes and models, which acts as a reflection of his culture and the political, social, and religious context in which he evolves. In his trilogy “Death”, he summoned funeral liturgies mixing tradition with a sharp modernity. He then undertook a second trilogy devoted to “Love”, of which “The Love Behind My Eyes” won the ZKB Patronage prize at the 2022 Zurich Theater Spektakel. Currently, he is preparing to work on a new trilogy around the theme of “Fear”.

Nancy Mounir

A versatile multi-instrumentalist, arranger, and composer, Nancy Mounir is a key member of Egypt’s alternative music scene. She contributes original music to theatre productions, films, and international art installations. Mounir plays a range of instruments - including violin, piano, bass, Theremin, and the traditional Egyptian bamboo flute called the kawala - and in the process she has explored both the harmonic principles of the Western canon and the microtonal foundations of
Arabic maqam (musical modes). Lately she has stepped further into the limelight with her solo debut album Nozhet El Nofous - a transcendent exploration of musical freedom through the lens of century-old archival recordings.

Nermin Habib

Nermin Habib is an Egyptian artist and contemporary dancer and choreographer with a bachelor-degree in Philosophy and a 3-year-degree in Contemporary Dance from “CCDC – Cairo Contemporary Dance Center”. She is a member of International Dance Council "CID-UNISCO" France. In 2016, she joined the first Interdisciplinary Music Theatre Group in Cairo. In 2020, Habib established and co-founded "ECHO", an independent company implementing community art projects outside the capital. Nermin also leads workshops and other educational projects in contemporary and Baladi dance for women, children, and less-able groups, aiming to change negative thinking patterns in learning through dance regardless of age, gender, or social role.

HAU Berlin logo ©Privat "Un|controlled Gestures - 3rd Edition" is an initiative of the Goethe-Institut in cooperation with HAU Hebbel am Ufer (Berlin), curated by Nedjma Hadj Benchelabi.

Mentors / Artistic team of the 3rd Edition:
Nedjma Hadj Benchelabi (Curator & Dramaturge); Petra Poelzl (Curator Dance & Performance HAU Hebbel am Ufer). Ali Chahrour (Performer & Choreographer); Nancy Mounir (Musician & Composer); Nermin Habib (Performer & Choreographer).

The National Centre for Culture and Arts in Amman has provided the rehearsal space for the project ofAkkaHamdan in Jordan.

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