Sources: US News – By Sam McNeil – AP | All Things Michael
AMMAN, Jordan (AP) — As a boy in pre-war Baghdad, Adil Faraj dreamed of becoming a dancer, inspired by a Michael Jackson performance he watched on DVD.
For over a decade, he pursued his passion despite daunting challenges and harassment by strangers and police. He taught himself by moving to dance videos in his cramped family home — hiding from a conservative society scornful of the art form and from the chaos that engulfed Iraq after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.
Last weekend, the sweat and tears paid off when the now 22-year-old performed on stage for the first time, to a packed house at the Amman Contemporary Dance Festival in the Jordanian capital.
After his solo — machine-like moves to the haunting Gary Jules’ song “Mad World” mixed with break dancing — the audience erupted in applause, and Faraj raised his fists triumphantly before bowing.
“I felt tremendous joy,” he said, his chiseled frame sweaty after the dance. “It is like a dream.”
It was a long journey from his tiny Baghdad bedroom to the Amman stage — the last stretch helped along by the New York City-based Battery Dance Company that mentored him through lessons via Skype and brought him to Jordan.
The young dancer’s struggle highlights the decline of the arts in Iraq after years of political upheaval.
But such displays came with a price.
Once, as he danced in a park, he was assaulted by three young men. “One of them hit me, saying, ‘You’re dancing, you are gay, you are like a woman’,” he said. He said he fought back…
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