Meet Ahmad Joudeh, borne a stateless refugee from Syria he came to the Netherlands after the incredible documentary Dance Or Die. Watch this astonishing in depth interview, where he shares how he was born in a refugee camp, was stateless for 30 years, but loved dance and escaped problems by immersing himself into his passion. It is an incredible story of daily bombings, narrow escapes, but amazing resilience, foresight and strength of character. The opposite of war, he says, is creation. The army will aim to stop the fighting to create piece, the ‘army’ of dancers and other artists will create, so there is something left worth fighting for! Governments look after your dancers!!
Ahmad Joudeh was born in 1990 in Yarmouk, a Palestinian Refugee Camp in Damascus, Syria. Since his father is a son of a Palestinian refugee, Ahmad Joudeh was born as a stateless refugee, although the mother is Syrian from Palmyra.
Ahmad Joudeh became fascinated about dancing when he saw a ballet performance for the first time in his life at the age of eight. Ever since, to become a dancer was his dream.
At 16, totally self-taught, Ahmad Joudeh auditioned for the main Syrian ballet company, Enana Dance Theater in Damascus, and was accepted. There he was trained in ballet, gymnastics and modern dance.
His mother supported his dream of becoming a dancer. His father disapproved. Because of this disagreement, his father left the family.
Ahmad Joudeh travelled extensively with the company in places including Qatar, Algeria, Tunisia, Jordan and Lebanon.
The civil war in Syria, which broke out in 2011, has had devastating impacts on the life of Ahmad Joudeh and his family. Five of his relatives lost their lives. Ahmad Joudeh and his family lost everything, as their home was destroyed by a terror bomb.
Ahmad Joudeh encountered not only life-threatening situations, but also constant threats by extremists simply because of his dance activities. As declaration of his determination to keep on dancing, he had the words Dance or Die tattooed on the back of his neck, the spot where the blade would be applied in case of execution. For Ahmad Joudeh, to dance is to exist. To give up dancing was not an option.
Ahmad Joudeh was invited to participate in the Arab version of “So You Think You Can Dance” (SYTYCD), a TV dance competition, in Lebanon in 2014. He became a known dancer in Arabic world with the prominent performances. He was told, however, that he would not win the final because he is stateless.
Witnessing a child killed in a battle, Ahmad Joudeh decided to work for children orphaned in the war. He joined fundraising activities for SOS Children’s Village Syria and held dance lessons for the children of their villages.
Ahmad Joudeh graduated from Higher Institute of Dramatic Arts, Damascus, Syria, in July 2016.
He completed the study and training in dance and choreography.
Ahmad Joudeh became known to outside the Arab world through a reportage about his life in Syria under the civil war made by Roozbeh Kaboly, a Dutch journalist. The reportage was broadcast first on 6 August 2016 in the Dutch National TV news programme Nieuwsuur of NOS. It was shown in many countries afterwards, including UK and France.
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