“It’s like anything else—you build it in the mind. Take that experience, take the fighting and the war, and then make that something beautiful. ” – Hussein Smko

To dance is to communicate. Even when we can’t express something in words, our movements act as a bridge between our internal and external worlds. As humans, we’re preprogrammed to read each others’ body language and expressions, so when they’re combined into a routine, what we get is a story.

The story that Hussein Smko is sharing in his choreography is important. He was just 9 years old when the Iraq War began, and his journey from Erbil, Iraq to the renowned Battery Dance Company in New York City, U.S. holds a few lessons for all of us.

Image: Hussein Smko performing outside

Hussein Smko performing his opening choreography for the 35th Annual Battery Dance Festival in tribute to Adel Euro; a friend and fellow dancer with Battery Dance killed a month prior in a terrorist bombing in Baghdad.
Source: In memoriam Darial Sneed

Behind the headlines coming out of Iraq live everyday people. Like you and me, they want to create, express themselves, and walk the streets of their cities without fear. But these freedoms do not come to them easily, with ongoing violence frequently shaking up their lives.

After a chance encounter with a soldier in 2003, Hussein began to process, express, and share his story through dance. Now, after moving to the United States with a residency at Battery Dance as the first recipient of the Adel Euro Campaign for Dancers Seeking Refuge, his journey has led him to help other individuals with similar stories have a platform to share them.

This awesome feature from A Plus from their series, The New Americans, introduces us to Hussein and gives us a closer look at how this experience has played out, where it’s headed, and how to find opportunities even when the odds seem stacked against us.

Via: A Plus 1

“If you don’t have a purpose, create one.” — Hussein Smko

A lot of us (myself included) miss the opportunities that come our way. Though there may be a slew of reasons for not acting on them, that doesn’t change the fact that something that could’ve changed the trajectory of our lives is now further from our reach. So, why don’t we go for it?

The thing is, while all our stories are unique, what we choose to include in ours can inspire countless others in similar situations. We may not always be able to see the impact of our actions, but how we shape our own lives could very well help to open the door of opportunity for another; giving them the space to act on a dream.

We all have the ability to change the world for someone else. So how can we work with what’s already around us to create something better? Think about it, there’s probably someone out there who has done this for you.

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Celebrating Adel Euro

The residency that Hussein Smko has with Battery Dance has been inspired by the talented Adel Euro, whose life, along with approximately 200 others, was cut short by a suicide bombing in Baghdad on July 3, 2016.

A friend of Hussein, Adel was a talented up and coming dancer also mentored by Battery Dance remotely in Iraq through Skype. He was on the fast track to moving to the United States to pursue his passions. 2

“For us, Adel represents the hope and determination of all people no matter their religion, race or ethnicity, to overcome the odds to live normal and fulfilling lives. In championing his legacy, we hope to inspire American audiences to challenge their preconceived notions of Muslims and embrace our common humanity.” 3

If you’d like to learn more about how Hussein Smko and Battery Dance are working towards this inspiration, you can read all about it here on their website. And give Battery Dance a follow on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to stay up to date with all that they’re up to!

Oh, and if you’ll be in New York City on August 12th…

Hussein will be performing at the Battery Dance Festival at 7 pm! This new piece, Thinking of Knowing, was choreographed in collaboration with Anno Kachina, a refugee from Egypt, and Christopher Nunez, an immigrant from Costa Rica. It’s sure to be stunning.

Stay open to new possibilities!

  • Sam

“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” — Albert Einstein 

Want to meet more inspirational people?

Well lucky for you, we have a whole category full of people bringing amazing ideas to the world.

Thought Leaders on EWC

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  1. “The Dancer From Iraq.” YouTube. A Plus, 02 June 2018. Web. 23 July 2018. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FGyzSS4tEKg>.
  2. “Combating Islamophobia Through Dance and Spoken Word.” Battery Dance. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 July 2018. <https://batterydance.org/combating-islamophobia/>.
  3. “Combating Islamophobia Through Dance and Spoken Word.” Battery Dance. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 July 2018. <https://batterydance.org/combating-islamophobia/>.

Sam has written and edited hundreds of articles since joining the EWC team in 2016. She writes about topics from the wonders of nature to the organizations changing the world and the simple joys in life! Outside of the EWC office, she’s a part-time printmaker, collector of knick-knacks, and taster of cheeses.