The Ombetja Yehinga Organisation (OYO)’s dance troupe presented its repertoire pieces ‘The Moirai’ and ‘Ever Since Helen’ two weeks ago.
The play ‘The Moirai’ addresses the sadly too common issue of gender-based violence, while the play ‘Ever Since Helen’ looks at relationships among young people, with the emphasis on jealousy.
“The programme for 2017 includes a campaign to promote the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture’s policy on the prevention and management of learner pregnancy.
“Three pieces have been developed under this theme and we aim to have more girls and boys aware of how a pregnancy could alter and affect their academic career. We should also take boys into account when addressing a social problem such as learner pregnancy,” says founder and director of OYO, Philippe Talavera.
With ten permanently employed dancers touring both the country and abroad when the opportunity arises, OYO also announced their first training programme in which they recruited ten understudies from around Namibia who will learn through experience with the dance troupe in 2017.
“They have a very busy year ahead,” Talavera said.
Recognised around the world OYO uses an art form not so common on the local scene to inform, educate and raise awareness of Namibia’s social ills when communicating to a diverse audience at the same time.
“OYO uses physical theatre, which is the telling of a story through movement and without words. Contemporary dance is often perceived as abstract. Physical theatre is not abstract. It really builds from story telling.
“[Participants] come from many different places, including Keetmanshoop, Koës, Tsumeb, Rundu, Windhoek and Rehoboth. We hope that by the end of this year, ten more Namibians understand the art of dance better than before and can use their skill to either assist us in future projects or launch their own initiative in their local community,” Talavera added.
In 2016, working with characters, situations, spaces and time, the OYO dance troupe performed with and for over 114,219 people.
Three repertoires have been prepared on gender-based violence; ‘The phantom of Namibia’ about orphans and vulnerable children and ‘Maria’ about child marriages will also be presented this year.
Trips to neighbouring Botswana and South Africa are in the pipeline for the troupe to perform, travel and develop.
OYO was established in 2001 with the Kunene Regional Council when teachers approached Talavera on new ways of communicating information on the HIV/AIDS pandemic to learners.
Conventional teaching had proved ineffective and they needed a new and creative way. Five short films on the pandemic were born from adapted scripts submitted by learners. Based on the success achieved, they then formalised OYO as a Welfare Organisation in December 2002 and a Trust in 2009..