- " Our arms start from the back because
they were once wings "
We have seen the eyes of young dance students lighting up. We have seen their smiles. We have heard their laugh. We have listened to the life stories of dancers. We have met artists and social entrepreneurs whose purpose is to use dance as a catalyst to help others shape a brighter future or as a therapy to heal wounds.
The What Dance Can Do Project is a Zurich-based organization launched in January 2017 with the purpose to explore the impact of dance and raise awareness of companies using dance to effect some kind of outreach or change.
Marie-Agnès Gillot is one of the most in-demand dancers in France and beyond. Whether performing in works by acclaimed choreographers or starring in fashion designers campaigns, she has inspired creators from the dance and fashion worlds and collaborated with a wide range of international artists. Nominated “Etoile” in 2004, she was the first female in-house choreographer to receive a commission from the Paris Opera Ballet. She has staged her works across balletic, contemporary, and even hip hop styles. Marie-Agnès actively supports a number of philanthropic causes. This is therefore as a celebrated artist and as a woman of commitment and conviction that she joined the What Dance Can Do Ambassadors.
PC James BortAmbassador
Nominated « Etoile » of the Paris Opéra Ballet in 2017 at the age of 23, Hugo Marchand
was honored in the category of the
« Best male dancer » by the Benois de la Danse the same year. Hugo considers give back to society belongs to his role as an artist.
“One of my ambitions as an Etoile dancer is to take part in public awareness as to what dancing can do for society.”
PC James BortAmbassador
Based in NYC, the Gary (Indiana) native Renaldo Maurice has been dancing around the globe with The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater since 2011. Mr. Maurice was also awarded the Key to his city in February 2012.
“Every artist has a responsibility. Special talents and aptitude have been given to us for a reason. You have to use your gift to help others.”
PC Charles BaulinAmbassador
Ahmad Joudeh was born and raised in the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk, in Damascus, Syria. Ever since his childhood, his dream was to be a dancer. Despite intense opposition from some family members and society in general, he attended dance lessons, often in secret. Ahmad was trained at Syria’s major dance company the Enana Dance Theatre and studied at the Damascus Higher Institute for Dramatic Arts. In his free time he also taught dancing to orphans and young people with Down’s Syndrome at the SOS villages around Damascus.
In 2014 Ahmad starred in the Arabian version of “So You Think You Can Dance”. His appearance in this programme earned him fame both at home and abroad.
The Dutch journalist, Roozbeh Kaboly, spotted Ahmad on the Facebook page of the Higher Institute for Dramatic Arts and travelled to Damascus to document the life of Ahmad and his family for the Dutch news programme “Nieuwsuur”. The moving and inspirational documentary “Dance or Die” has also been broadcast by the international media, including the BBC, Channel 4 News, Arte and France 2. It has been viewed by millions of people across the globe.
After seeing the documentary, Ted Brandsen, director of the Dutch National Ballet was inspired to help Ahmad. Together with individuals and colleagues from The Netherlands, the Dutch National Ballet has succeeded in bringing him to The Netherlands to continue his studies and career there.
“Dancing has given me the strength to face many obstacles that came my way. It has shaped my personality. Because I am a dancer, I am alive.”Ambassador
Ji Min Hong is from South Korea, and has danced with the National Ballet of Canada (2010 – 2014) and Royal Danish Ballet (2014 – present). “Dance has taught me how to live my life: to be humble because the power and beauty of art are so much bigger than who I am; to be patient because things don’t always work out the way I want them to, but eventually they will work out the way they should if I don’t give up on myself; and to be grateful for everything because I know how it feels not to be able to do what I love to do, and being able to dance is a miracle. Picasso said that “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life”, and, through my art form of dance, I hope to help create moments like these for our audiences.”
PC Natascha Thiara RydvaldAmbassador
Léonore Baulac, half French half Norwegian, was nominated “Etoile” of the Paris Opera Ballet in 2016 after performing Odette/Odile in Swan Lake.
“I wish children from all around the world could thrive up to their potential, and I definitely think dance can help!”
Ida Praetorius is Principal at the Royal Danish Ballet.
PC Natascha Thiara Rydvald