Ahmad Joudeh

Dance or Die

Ahmad Joudeh

Dance or Die


Ahmad Joudeh is a dancer and a choreographer.

He was born and raised in Syria as a stateless refugee.

In 2016, he moved to Amsterdam with the help of the Dutch National Ballet.

Since 2017, he has been internationally active as a freelance artist.

In 2019, he was appointed as an International Friend by SOS Children's Villages International. 

In 2021, he obtained Dutch nationality.

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Ahmad Joudeh

Dance Or Die

Photo by Julien Benhamou

Portrait of Ahmad Joudeh - "Dancing for his Life" (April, 2019) by Great Big Story

Ahmad Joudeh

Damascus, Syria
Ahmad Joudeh was born in the Syrian capital, Damascus, in 1990 as a stateless refugee, and was raised in Yarmouk camp, a settlement established by the refugees from Palestine.

Civil War
Under the civil war, he experienced life-threatening situations, his home was destroyed, and he lost five family members. After witnessing a child killed in a battle, he started working for children orphaned in the war,  joining activities of SOS Children's Villages Syria: holding dance shows for fundraising and dance workshops for orphans at their villages.

Dance Or Die
Because of his dance activities, he received constant threats from extremists. As a response, he had the words “Dance or Die” tattooed on the back of his neck, the spot where a blade would fall in decapitation.
For Ahmad Joudeh, to dance is to exist. To give up dancing was not an option.

TV Reportage
In August 2016, Ahmad Joudeh’s struggle in Syria was reported in a news program on the Dutch National Television. It was shown in many countries afterwards, including UK and France. 

To Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Touched by the story of Ahmad Joudeh, The Dutch National Ballet organised The Dance For Peace Fund, which invited him to The Netherlands. In October 2016, he moved to Amsterdam.

International activities
Since 2017, Ahmad Joudeh has been internationally active as a freelance artist with Amsterdam as the base. He has also been contributing to events for raising awareness of the refugee situation. 

In September 2019, SOS Children’s Villages International appointed Ahmad Joudeh as its  International Friend

In November 2019, a documentary film “Dance or Die” by Roozbeh Kaboly about the life of Ahmad Joudeh won one of 2019 International Emmy® Awards, one in the category of Arts Programming.

In 2021, he obtained Dutch nationality.

For more information
See Story in brief, Documentary and Reportage by Roozbeh KabolyNewsAgenda, and  Dances


Eurovision Song Contest 2021

Ahmad Joudeh performed at the Second Semi-Final of Eurovision Song Contest 2021 on 20 May 2021. 

See Agenda 2021.05.20


Memoir “Dance or Die"

Ahmad Joudeh published his autobiography “DANZA O MUORI” (Dance or Die) from DeA Planeta Libri, an Italian publisher, on 6 November 2018.

English version "Dance or Die" is going to be published on 21 September 2021 by Imagine Books, a client publisher of Penguin Random House

See the announcement by Penguin Random House

For more, see Book "Dance Or Die"

Love and Prayer under Pandemic - Our best days are yet to come

My Word Is Free - UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award Ceremony, Geneva, 1 October 2018

Ahmad Joudeh is an International Friend of SOS Children's Villages International.

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