Dancing professionally since the age of 16, Samar Nassar is the co-founder of Hipline, a dance and fitness studio established in 2008 in Oakland, CA with her sister, Gabriela Nassar. Born in Dublin, California, Samar is of first generation Lebanese and Peruvian descent. Her capacity to fully embrace her two distinctly different heritages can be exquisitely experienced in her approach to her art, choreography, and ability to teach a diverse range of student levels. Alastair Macaulay of the New York Times writes in response to Samar Nassar’s performance piece in the 2009 San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival, “What surely nobody could miss—the transcendent element—were the joy in performance and the intricate professional skill: they made this woman look liberated and entirely empowered.” Having performed for an impressive list of audiences, some of her other most memorable have been for The Department of Social Security’s Diversity Week in 2009 following a talk on Arab culture, the grand opening of The DeYoung Museum in San Francisco and the Gould Theater at the Palace of Legion of Honor in San Francisco.
As a gifted instructor and choreographer, Samar focuses as much on technique as cultivating personal style as encouraging freedom of self-expression. Her training as well as natural talent as a multi-faceted dancer and instructor is only matched by her inborn skill as an innovator as co-owner of Hipline. She leads with fearless vulnerability and a hands-on approach that is reflected in both her ability to continuously create as a choreographer as well as navigate the intricacies of running a business. Into each class and performance Samar faithfully brings with her a spirited commitment to health and wellness, and in equal parts her deep love of dance and sharing.
A team player by nature, Gabriela Nassar-Covarelli has been sharpening her dance and leadership skills for most of her life. As the eldest of three sisters with a fierce passion for family, community and culture, her role as co-owner and co-creator of Hipline seems an inevitable destination. With 11 years of soccer, countless seasons of track and field sports, and her endless love of all types of music and dance, her dancer and instructor’s tool belt is flush with a natural affinity to channel creativity and positivity through movement. Gabriela has a wealth of knowledge and compassion for the body. Her intrinsic understanding of how to encourage and maximize each individual’s potential is a perfect manifestation of her BA in Biology from UCSB, innate athletic ability, professional background in food science, and commitment to achieving health and wellness through dance, nutrition and a positive outlook.
When Hipline’s first set of doors opened in 2008, Gabriela’s unique skill-set, Lebanese and Peruvian descent, and wildly eclectic taste in music had found a place to harmonize and flourish. Her rich heritage and inclusive spirit are an integral part of the very foundation Hipline has been built upon. Gabriela approaches her leadership role within Hipline the same way she teaches each of her classes, with genuine warmth, respect for every participant, creativity, consistency, faith in the process, a belief in working hard and a huge smile. Ever-readiness to Shimmy, laugh and dance it out, Gabriela embodies the core values of Hipline: Shimmy, Connect, Love.
written by Ali Lawrence