Anne Lauren Luben's picture
  • Dish
  • 15 March 2017
Ahmad Joudeh dances on the rubble of his old refugee camp. Photograph: Ahmad Joudeh

Get ready for the most inspiring story you'll hear today.

Meet Ahmad Joudeh. He's spent his life as a stateless Palestinian in Damascus, a city ravaged by ISIS and war in Syria. As a youth, he studied at the Enana Dance Theatre and the Higher Institute of Dramatic Arts is Damascus. He's taught dance to students of all levels and ages, and was even featured on on the Arab version of So You Think You Can Dance in Lebanon; however, because he has no nationality, he wasn't allowed to win.

When he turned 26, he received his summons to spend three years in the military. He was at a loss for what to do - until a Dutch TV journalist heard his story and traveled to make a documentary about him.

 Michel Schnater
‘[I have] no time to do anything but dancing. Because I am the only hope for my students and for my family in Syria.’ Photograph: Michel Schnater

For the film, Ahmad danced in the Palestinian refugee camp, Yarmouk, where he lost five family members. Ahmad danced in the ancient Roman theatre of Palmyra, used by ISIS for mass executions. Ahmad danced through the death threats from ISIS, through the beatings from his Father, who was ashamed of his talent and dreams. And still, Ahmad danced.

When the documentary aired, the artistic director of the Dutch National Ballet watched and immediately set up Dance for Peace, a fund to help raise money for Ahmad to move to the Nederlands to dance and study.

Ahmad is now living and working in Amsterdam, dancing with the Dutch National Ballet and a Dutch opera company.