Maitisong festival is an annual event that started in 1987 and has become the biggest arts festival in Gaborone, Botswana with international and local artists bringing theatre, dance, poetry and comedy to fee-paying audiences in several festival venues around Gaborone. Additionally it brings non-stop music shows to thousands of revelers in under-privileged areas free of charge. This year the festival runs from 13 to 22 April.
The OYO dance troupe has been selected to perform a triple bill at the festival. Dancers will perform 'Maria', 'the Phantom of Namibia' and 'Thiasus' in Gaborone on Friday 20 April and again Saturday 21 April. 'It is a great honour for the dance troupe', says Talavera, director and choreographer. 'We use dance to create social awareness. We are well known for the social work we do. But we also work hard as dancers and performers. It is important for the troupe to feature during international events, to showcase our talent'. The OYO dance troupe is the first, and currently only, dance troupe in Namibia employing dancers as full time performers.
'Maria' follows the story of a young school girl who is forced to leave school to get married. According to UNICEF, over 5400 children are married in Namibia. While legislation strictly regulates marriage for minors, traditions still prevail in places. But what really happens to those girls? Do they become voiceless mothers? Sections in 'Maria' are inspired by a workshop the troupe had with renown dancer from Botswana, Duncan Sebopelo.
'The phantom of Namibia' follows the story of two orphans who become street kids. Exploring feelings of loss, loneliness, rejection, hope, disappointment, we follow their journey from the day of the funerals. The piece was developed in collaboration with dancers from Canada, Sweden, the Netherlands and Singapore.
'Thiasus' is a modern tale. The piece is inspired by the mythical figure of Dionysus and his followers, traveling in processions called Thiasus and recruiting newcomers to join in their celebrations. Too many young Namibians get pressurized to join in parties, and too often they regret their actions, a little too late. The piece was developed in collaboration with dancers from Sweden, the USA, the Netherlands, the UK and Germany.
The OYO dance troupe developed a unique repertoire using physical theatre. It appeals to the heart rather than the intellect. It performed to over 150,000 in 2017 alone. Internationally, it produced itself in Botswana (Maitisong festival 2016), the UK (on invitation by the Commonwealth Youth Dance Festival, with performances in Leeds, Glasgow, Edinburg and London, 2014 and on invitation by Sadler's wells, London, 2009), South Africa (2009, 2011) and Germany (2009).
Choreographer: Philippe Talavera
Production Manager: Joshua Homateni
Dancers: Monray Garoeb, Jessica Augustus, Osyrin Puteho, Divine Naibas, Kassi Hausiku, Joe Hakapela, Sophy Janser, Sydney Farao and Jeffrey Ndjahera