I have been involved in several dance projects throughout the world in China, Cambodia, Israel, Palestine, Germany and USA and I love to meet and dance with dancers from different cultures.
My name is Annasara Yderstedt. I was born in Sweden but I moved to Norway 6 years ago to study for my degree in dance and pedagogy which I finished in 2014. I work as a dance teacher, administrator and freelancing dance artist.
About 1,5 years ago I got a newsletter from Dancing Opportunities including information about an internship with OYO Dance Troupe. I applied and was selected and in August last year I got on a plane towards Windhoek, Namibia.
I have been involved in several dance projects throughout the world in China, Cambodia, Israel, Palestine, Germany and USA and I love to meet and dance with dancers from different cultures. But the experience I had in Namibia was different and it changed me in many ways.
OYO Dance Troupe is a part of Ombetja Yehinga Organisation, an organisation who works with educating young people about different issues in their society such as discrimination, violence, drug addiction, HIV/AIDS etc. They use dance, drama, music, art and media as tools to reach out to teenagers and help them make important decisions that will help them change their future.
I was there for 4 weeks together with 4 other international dancers from England and Canada. We worked intensely together creating a new dance piece dealing with the issue of teenage pregnancy which we toured with and performed at schools and other venues. We also got to teach each other and share our life stories and we got very close. I got a view of how life is like in a country with the largest gap between rich and poor. Life as a dancer in Namibia is very different than life as a dancer in Europe.
The opportunities that I almost take for granted like having a solid dance education, having access to good dance studios and being able to apply for financial support through the Art’s council does not exist in Namibia. But I have never met such strong and passionate dancers and because they are the only professional dance company with full-time employed dancers, they are touring and performing around the country a lot. OYO has in many cases literally saved these dancer’s lives. Many of the dancers in the company come from a rough background with alcohol addiction, violence and poverty and now they are using their experiences to reach out to others.
I was deeply touched with what OYO Dance Troupe does, using dance as a way to change the future of their country. I realized what power there is to communicate through the arts and it has inspired me to work more with dance as a social, educating and communicating tool. I am so glad that I opened that email from Dancing Opportunities that lead to an experience I will treasure forever.