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This Syrian Refugee Is Using Dance to Defy Terrorism

Dance is a powerful form of expression, and Ahmad Joudeh is using its influence to promote peace.

The 27-year-old is a Palestinian refugee, whose decision to pursue his passion for ballet has made him the target of death threats from terrorist organizations. Despite the danger, Joudeh has decided to continue on his path as a dancer, using his performances as an opportunity to spread a message of peace and cultural awareness.


Joudeh grew up in a refugee camp in Syria, where his love of ballet created a cultural clash within his community. Even Joudeh's father was opposed to his decision to become a dancer, and would beat him to deter him from dancing. In 2015, ISIS warned Joudeh that his dancing was a crime punishable by death.

Joudeh was able to escape the persecution last year, when the Dutch National Ballet offered to sponsor his dance studies in Amsterdam.

In addition to training with the DNBallet, Joudeh performs in the streets of Europe to bring awareness to his cause, in the hopes that his story might change the minds of those back home who still believe dancing is a criminal act.

His message has already had an impact on his own father, who now accepts him as a dancer.

"It gives me the proof I can change the whole world if I really believe in myself," Joudeh told CNN. "When I could change my father's mind, I could change maybe a lot of fathers' minds in the Arab world."

This story originally appeared on dancespirit.com.

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AMDA students learn how to present their best selves on camera. Photo by Trae Patton, Courtesy AMDA

AMDA's 4 Tips for Acing Your Next Audition

Ah, audition day. The flurry of new choreography, the long lines of dancers, the wait for callbacks. It's an environment dancers know well, but it can also come with great stress. Learning how to be best prepared for the big day is often the key to staying calm and performing to your fullest potential (and then some).

This concept is the throughline of the curriculum at American Musical and Dramatic Academy, where dance students spend all four years honing their audition skills.

"You're always auditioning," says Santana Trujillo, AMDA's dance outreach manager and a graduate of its BFA program. On campus in Los Angeles and New York City, students have access to dozens of audition opportunities every semester.

For advice on how dancers can put their best foot forward at professional auditions, Dance Magazine recently spoke with Trujillo, as well as AMDA faculty members Michelle Elkin and Genevieve Carson. Catch the whole conversation below, and read on for highlights.

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July 2021