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. Based in Amsterdam since 2016, he is internationally active. In 2021, he obtained Dutch nationality.

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Ahmad Joudeh

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

Ahmad Joudeh

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.

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.

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.

In August 2016, Ahmad Joudeh’s struggle in Syria was reported in a news program on Dutch National Television. Touched by the story, The Dutch National Ballet organised The Dance For Peace Fund, which invited Ahmad Joudeh to The Netherlands.

In October 2016, Ahmad Joudeh moved to Amsterdam.
Since 2017, he has been internationally active as an artist with Amsterdam as the base.
He has also been contributing to events for raising awareness of the refugee situation. 

In November 2018, Ahmad Joudeh published his autobiography “Danza o Muori (Dance or Die)”.

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, see Story in brief, News, Agenda, and Dances

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.

For more, see Book "DANZA O MUORI”

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


Love and Prayer under Pandemic - Our best days are yet to come (2020)


Dance in Palmyra (2016)

In July 2016, Ahmad Joudeh danced for the souls of those who had lost their lives in the civil war at the Roman amphitheatre of Palmyra, a UNESCO World Heritage. This was probably the last art performance at this theatre before it was destroyed later in the year. The dance was filmed by Roozbeh Kaboly, a Dutch documentary filmmaker. The footage was broadcast first in Kaboly's reportage about Ahmad's life in Syria under the civil war in a TV news programme in The Netherlands in August 2016. The Reportage was shown in many other countries.

For more, see Documentary and Reportages by Roozbeh Kaboly.

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.

For refugees

Ahmad Joudeh has also been contributing with dances to events that are to raise awareness for the situation of refugees and their children.

The major contributions:

Together in Solidarity
An event hosted by European Parliament and sponsored by UNESCO Brussels Liaison Office
Brussels, 20 June 2018,  UN World Refugee Day 
See Agenda 2018.06.20

Nansen Refugee Award Ceremony 
of UNHCR, The UN Refugee Agency
Geneva, 1 October 2018
See Agenda 2018.10.01

A charity show for children in Syria by SOS Childrens' Village Italy 
Milan, 28 November 2018 
See Agenda 2018.11.28

Geneva Call
Geneva, 5 October 2017

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