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.
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.
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.
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 Kaboly, News, Agenda, and Dances