REMEMBERING JOHNNY – AN OYO DANCE TRIBUTE TO FRENCH SINGER JOHNNY HALLYDAY
Jean-Philippe Leo Smet, better known by his stage name Johnny Hallyday, was a French rock’n’roll and pop singer and actor, credited for having brought rock’n’roll to France. During a career spanning 57 years, he released 79 albums, sang an estimated 1,154 songs, and sold more than 110 million records worldwide. He had five diamond albums, 40 golden albums, and 22 platinum albums and earned ten Victoires de la Musique, an annual award ceremony in France.
Hugely popular in France, he is often seen as a ‘national monument’ and a part of the French cultural legacy. He died on 5 December 2017, aged 74. He would have turned 80 on 15 June 2023. To celebrate his work, the OYO dance troupe and guests performed a tribute on 04 August at the National Theatre of Namibia.
‘The songs of Johnny speak of Rock’n’Roll, passion, betrayal, life in jail.’ Says Dr Philippe Talavera, OYO’s director and choreographer. ‘using OYO’s technique of physical theatre, we performed 15 of his songs. You don’t need to understand French to enjoy his songs. His unique deep voice, his fast tempo, and catching melodies can be enjoyed by all. He is, in France, as famous as Edith Piaf or Jacques Brel. I know the Namibian public will enjoy his songs, even if he is not known yet here’.
The OYO dancers were joined by guests Nsimba Faycal (who performed at the Namas Awards, PSquare concert, Boys2man concert, etc.) and LeClue Job (winner of Talent Africa 2021 and Breakfree from Violence performance arts competition 2022). Five of the songs were performed live by renowned performer Sven-Eric Müller, accompanied by the Hot Pocket Band and a choir of 50 teenagers learning French in school. Clementine Ruel joined Sven-Eric Müller for a special rendition of ‘j’ai un problème’.
‘This was a massive production’, says Talavera ‘with over 70 performers on stage, between the choir, musicians, lead singers, and dancers. We have been working on it since January.’
The show was performed on 04 August at the NTN in the morning for schools and in the evening for the general public. It was a resounding success. It received a lot of positive feedback and an amazing review in ‘the Namibian’ weekender.
This project received support from the Consulat Général de France a Johannesburg and the Franco-Namibian Cultural Centre.
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