Your future in dance awaits

Ombetja Yehinga Organisation Trust, popularly known by the abbreviation OYO, is a well-known and renowned dance troupe which uses the arts to raise awareness of the difficulties faced by the youth, as well as social issues such as gender-based violence and HIV.

28 January 2020 | Youth

Ester Kamati

The Ombetja Yehinga Organisation Trust has the main mandate to create social awareness through the arts and has been doing so for the past 11 years.

The OYO dance troupe is the first and only troupe in Namibia which employs young dancers fulltime according to Philippe Talavera, the director of OYO. The organisation has developed a unique methodology using what they call ‘physical theatre’, a form of contemporary dance.

OYO is currently accepting applications from international applicants for a four-week internship.

“This is an opportunity for young dancers from abroad to spend a month in Namibia and learn from us, and it is an opportunity for us to learn from them and see dance through fresh eyes,” Talavera says.

He says it is often difficult for young local dancers to challenge themselves when they are always surrounded by the same things, as Namibia is a small country. Going international would serve as an opportunity for interns to “learn, share and perform.”

The organisation, which prefers to limit the internships to three per year, also offers workshops for aspiring Namibian dancers to help them develop their skills. One such workshop is currently under way.

“It’s like watching a play but nobody talks – the body and the music do the talking,” says Talavera, explaining the narrative nature of stories told by the dance troupe, which according to him is not commonly found in Europe.

This serves as a chance for the interns to challenge themselves and “dance differently,” as well as to meet young Namibians and form friendships.

“In a world that is increasingly being divided by fear, racism, greed, etcetera, getting to know the other is tremendously important,” Talavera says.

The internship programme started in 2012 and over the years, the organisation has improved the concept and has worked well with the interns to develop great pieces, “most of which are still part of our repertoire”.

“We are seeking outstanding, self-motivated and energetic students or graduates with a desire to experience dance in a development context and work with members of the OYO Dance Troupe to create a piece to reach students and members of the public. They also have to be ready to challenge themselves, as we don’t work in dance studio like in Europe and perform outside, in the sand, on concrete or in places that are not always super clean.”

Interns need to raise their own funds to cover costs such as flights and accommodation and “make their desire to come to Namibia a dream come true.”

The internship programme will run from 27 July until 21 August and will be able to accommodate at least six interns.

Andrine Faleide, who was an intern at OYO in August 2017, describes the experience as meaningful. “I had worked with dance in different ways through my course but working with OYO made me see dance in a whole new way. I knew that dance could convey stories, but I had never seen it done like OYO does it,” said the dancer, who at the time of the internship was in the middle of dance training at a London university.

Charlotte Cooper, who joined the internship program twice, says she was inspired to become an educator because of how OYO educates local communities through dance.

“I loved the internship both times, so much so that I based my dissertation on it and now run my own dance business,” she says.

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