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May 25, 2024

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OZ Arts to Welcome Little Amal with Free Performance

The massive puppet of a young Syrian refugee visits Nashville on her journey across the nation to spread her story of hope at Centennial Park on October 5th.

Contemporary arts center OZ Arts Nashville is hosting a community performance and gathering around the arrival of Little Amal — a captivating 12-foot-tall puppet representing a refugee child from Syria — at Centennial Park on Thursday, October 5 at 5 p.m.

The larger-than-life puppet is operated by three to four puppeteers at a time, creating a dazzling and unforgettable public spectacle. The processional performance will begin on the west side of the Great Lawn and proceed southward, culminating in a gathering at Musicians Corner.

Local choreographer Shabaz Ujima and frequent collaborator Thea Jones, the creative visions behind Shackled Feet Dance, have created an intergenerational community celebration that shows Little Amal’s journey of weathering a storm as she tries to find home. The inspiring performance will include students from Rejoice School of Ballet, drummers from Global Education Center, elders from local immigrant communities and a host of other musicians and performers from throughout the city. 

“We are more thrilled to welcome Little Amal to Music City as part of her timely and important journey across the nation,” said Mark Murphy, OZ Arts Executive and Artistic Director. “By bringing artists and the community together to greet her, we hope to encourage important conversations about the role of refugees and displaced people in our country and the hope we can help bring to their lives.” 

About Little Amal

As part of an epic 6,000-mile trek across the United States from Boston to San Diego, Little Amal’s visit to Nashville spreads her message of hope for displaced people everywhere — especially children who have been separated from their families.

Amal, whose name means “hope” in Arabic, began The Walk at the Syrian border and has visited 13 countries searching for home. Little Amal was first imagined by Palestinian artistic director Amir Nizar Zuabi and created by Handspring Puppet Company to represent the impact of the Syrian civil war. However, since her journey began, she has come to embody the millions of children who have been displaced due to conflicts worldwide.

Presenting partners:

  • Centennial Park Conservancy
  • Shackled Feet Dance
  • Metro Parks Dance Division
  • Celebrate Nashville

Featured performers:

  • Global Education Center
  • Rejoice School of Ballet
  • Friends Life Community
  • Conexión Américas
  • Tennessee Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition
  • MTSU Band of Blue Color Guard
  • Nashville School of the Arts
  • IT Creswell Middle School
  • Warner Elementary
  • Turnip Green Creative Reuse
  • Blue Moves Modern Dance
  • Rod McGaha

OZ Arts will host Little Amal at Centennial Park on Thursday, October 5 at 5 p.m. Tickets are free and attendees can RSVP now at



About the Author

Michael Aldrich

Michael Aldrich is Nashville Parent's Managing Editor and a Middle Tennessee arts writer. He and his wife, Alison, are the proud parents of 4-year-old Ezra and baby Norah.