This Young Woman Dances With Her Soul, But To Some, That Isn't What God Would Want

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This student shouldn't just get to realize her dreams — she should get to share that dream in the place she grew up. Who could possibly not want that for Leezan?

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Narrator: Leezan could be the last ballerina in Iraq. The past ten years she has studied at The Baghdad School of Music and Ballet, learning to pirouette and plié against a backdrop of violence and insecurity. Simply going to school here could make her a target for religious fundamentalists who consider ballet little better than prostitution. Forbidden, because it displays a woman's beauty.

The days of Jewetts [SP] are over, as all the male dancers her age have given up and Leezan dances alone. Not so long ago ballet was a respected art form, but now she dare not even tell her neighbors she performs. Every time Leezan's family drive her to lessons they are risking their lives.

Just three months ago her childhood friend Ali was tragically killed in a random bomb attack on the bus home from school. That day he was one of 23 people killed [in terror] and violence and [forced the] instance across Baghdad. As the extremists have grown more powerful teachers have received death threats and students have been intimidated into staying away. Now the lack of staff means the ballet school is in danger of closure.

Living in Iraq means Leezan must hide her passion. It means fearing for her parent's safety. It means never performing ballet in public or having a hope of a professional career. When she dances, Leezan feels free, and she will fight to keep doing it. For Leexan, dancing is an act of courage.

There may be small errors in this transcript.

Original by "Unreported World" on Channel 4. If you don't live in England, you can watch the entire episode online. Or, if you're at work, you could listen to it via podcast (iTunes). I listened to the podcast, and it was so interesting I waited till the end before watching the "Game of Thrones" season finale. That should tell you something about how interesting it is.


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