Dance or die: Syrian refugee ballet star performs at Eiffel Tower

Ahmad Joudeh is no stranger to dancing in dramatic locations: from rooftops overlooking the rubble in Yarmouk to the ancient ruins of Palmyra, he has defied death threats to perform.

Now Joudeh has entertained crowds at the Eiffel Tower and outside the Paris Opera, leaping, whirling and pirouetting to "Dance or Die," a song created especially to help spread his message of peace and cultural understanding.

"I had the opportunity to come to Paris to work with (French singer) Sanga on the song," Joudeh told CNN. "He wrote it for me and for my motto in life, which is 'dance or die.'"

The 27-year-old grew up in Yarmouk, a Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus, Syria, overcoming conservative backlash, civil war and even terrorists for his art.

In 2015, ISIS stormed his neighborhood and began sending Joudeh threats, telling him dancing was punishable by death.

Joudeh's response was to have his message of defiance inked permanently into his skin.

"I did my tattoo, 'Dance or die,' because if they wanted to cut my head I want them to see this as the last thing they can see," he explains.
He lost family members and his home in the Syrian conflict, but remained unbowed, resolute.
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