Dancing In A War Zone

The Baghdad suburb of Mansour is known mostly these days for the near-constant sound of bombs, set off by insurgents targeting the new Iraqi army, and for the cries of those whose loved ones are caught in the crossfire. But Mansour is also home to Iraq’s one and only Music and Ballet School, where a dedicated staff of teachers and professionals works to fill the lives of Iraqi children with a love of dance. In post-Saddam Iraq, anti-Western sentiment runs strong, and many at the school now keep their Western-derived professions secret from all but those closest to them. But asked how many Shiites and how many Sunnis make up the student body, the school’s director has one firm answer: “We don’t know. We have students.”