The Baghdad Ballet
The Iraqi capital of Baghdad is not yet known for its ballet scene. Indeed, the city's Music and Ballet School exists as an island of liberal creativity that has endured decades of violent turmoil. Founded in 1967 with the help of dancers from the then-USSR, the school has managed to survive decades of war and extremism, including two instances of being looted and burnt down during the chaos that followed the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime in 2003. There are numerous challenges faced by students and faculty who practice this art form in a society in which religious conservative attitudes are common. However, better days seem to be ahead for Baghdad's resilient ballet culture, as a new generation of Iraqis seek to create a more peaceful and free nation than the one they have inherited.