OYO Dance Troupe
The OYO Dance Troupe is a branch of the Ombetja Yehinga Organisation Trust. Created in 2008, it followed on from the success of OYO’s production ‘The Namibian Odysseus’. The dance troupe creates social awareness in young people utilising contemporary dance – in particular, physical theatre. The troupe creates performances for schools to address important social issues such as HIV/AIDS (Should I know?, Choices, To take or not to Take and What is love?), stigma and discrimination (Bin boy and Stigma), teenage pregnancy (Teacher, Ania, The Dark Medea), ‘corrective’ rape (Magda) and gender-based violence (Betrayed, He loved me and The Moirai). Each performance in schools is followed by a discussion with learners to ensure that the message is clear. Referral systems are discussed for those who need help.
The Dance Troupe is often commissioned to perform for high-ranking officials and advocate for specific issues. It has performed four times at the Namibian Parliament, lobbying for children’s rights (‘Broken’) or addressing corruption (‘Greed’). It also performed at the Pan African Parliament in South Africa. The Troupe performed in London in 2009 at the Peacock Theatre as part of the ‘ctrl.alt.shift’ project and gained international recognition in 2014 when it was invited to perform at the Commonwealth Youth Dance Festival in Glasgow, Scotland, in July 2014. It also performed at the Maitisong Festival 2016 (Gaborone, Botswana).
The dance branch of the organisation hosts international exchanges through its summer internship programme, giving a chance to young dancers from Europe and the United States to work with them for five weeks. All dancers learn from one another and share experiences while creating new and innovative pieces.
The following pieces were created in 2017: ‘To take or not to take’ on HIV treatment and PrEP; ‘Thiasus’ on alcohol and drug abuse and ‘Always on my mind’ on HIV transmission in correctional facilities.