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.