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Preface by Roberto Bolle
Dance or Die is the story – told in the voice of its protagonist – of Ahmad Joudeh, born in 1990 to a Palestinian father and Syrian mother, and raised in the Palestinian refugee camp Yarmouk, in Damascus, Syria.
Passionate about dancing from an early age, Ahmad attended dance lessons in secret because of his father’s opposition, who clubbed him in the legs to prevent him from dancing.
To make everything even more difficult, the war (bombs destroyed his home, his neighbourhood, and killed five members of his family). But Ahmad Joudeh continued to dance and to study dance on the roof of his friends’ house, a wall as a barricade, amidst the bullets and explosions not too far away, and to give dance lessons to the children in the camp.
In 2014, he participated in the Arabic version of the reality show ‘So You Think You Can Dance’: he made it to the semifinals, but did not win because he had no nationality. His appearance on this programme made him famous both in Syria and abroad but earned him the hatred of extremists.
But not even this has stopped him and in recent years Ahmad has performed on stages all over Europe, bringing his message of peace everywhere with various performances dedicated to the many artists less fortunate than him who are forced to remain in Syria.
His dream is to found and direct the Syrian National Ballet in a finally free and pacified Syria.
Dance as a universal message of peace. A touching and true story. A book about courage, determination and resilience.


At only 28 years old, the Palestinian Syrian dancer Ahmad Joudeh has an awe-inspiring story, as well as an artistic CV that speaks for itself. His dream of becoming a ballet professional and his determination have allowed him to overcome everything: the resistance and domestic violence of his father, the bombs of the war in Syria and the threats of extremists. His story has travelled around the world.

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