So What Do Refugees from Syria have to do with Powerhouse Ballet?


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Our best day ever was our company class in Liverpool when we welcomed 28 dancers from Rhos-on-Sea in the west to Lincoln in the east and all points in between. After a strenuous class with Mark Hindle ("easy" is a 4-letter word to him, isn't it) Yvonne Charlton taught us a dance from Don Quixote that she had adapted for her own students in the IJsselstein.

BC TV Eating with the Enemy winner, Gita Mistry, joined us at the barre. She also took photos of us including this one which is my favourite image of the company.  At the very end of the class, she handed us all an energy bar.  A week earlier in Leeds, she treated us to lunch during Terence Etheridge's workshop on Aria. I believe that was the moment when we became a company because real friendships were made that day.

We now have an opportunity to show our appreciation by sponsoring Gita's Ration Challenge. "What's that?" I hear you say. Well for a week Gita will be living on the same rations as a Syrian refugee in Jordan which don't amount to much. A hell of a sacrifice for a foodie.  Gita appeals for sponsors and has so far raised £1,011.08 for Syrian refugees. Some 81,644 people around the world have raised nearly £6.5 million for that cause.  You can join them as a ration challenger by signing up here or you can sponsor Gita here.

"Jolly good" you may say "but we are a dance company. What do refugees from Syria have to do with us?"  Well at least one of them, Ahmad Joudeh, is a top dancer.  I first saw Joudeh in Ted Brandsen's Coppelia where he danced the vicar who married Franz and Swanhilda (or Frans and Zwaantje as they are called in Dutch). He was in Amsterdam on a scholarship from the Dutch National Ballet. He is now at the Kilden Theatre and Concert House in Kristiansand in Norway where he will dance Lik og Del on 17 to 18 June 2019. We wish him and his company "toi, toi, toi" for their show.

It is not easy to be a dancer in Syria. In his film, Joudeh warns that there are folk there who would decapitate you for doing a head roll.  It is probably also dangerous to be a broadcaster, engineer, journalist, lawyer, scientist, teacher and any other creative, enterprising or innovative individual. Small wonder why so many Syrians have had to leave their native country. While in exile they offer their considerable talents to the rest of the world.  Just as Joudeh has done.  That is why it is not just altruistic but also in our interests to sponsor Gita or support the Syrians in some other way.

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