NIKHITA WINKLER DANCE PROJECT – Driven by Passion for a Purpose
Nikhita Winkler founded the Nikhita Winkler Dance Theatre (NWDT) in 2016, which encapsulates the Nikhita Winkler Dance Project (NWDP) for community youth empowerment dance projects that aim to reach talent in all corners of the country. These initiatives were borne out of Nikhita’s personal journey towards becoming a professional dancer. She recollects how her dance career was made possible by people seeing and believing in her potential and supporting her mother to keep her in dance school. Today Nikhita aims to impact the lives of other Namibians through harnessing their potential for social change.
“We are home to passionate dancers and dance teachers. Our passion for dance is not only invested in producing Namibia’s ambassadors of art and culture; we also strive to nurture talent and creativity in all Namibians across the country for whom dance is a form of therapy, provides a sense of identity, and an avenue to achieve their dreams” – Nikhita Winkler.
The NWDP is the umbrella program for several community and passion projects. Whilst the NWDT offers dance training for children from age 4, the NWDP caters for children aged 9 onwards. Some of the children served by NWDP are the children of the Otjomuise township affected by HIV / AIDS, abuse and who lack constructive recreational activities that help to uplift their emotional, physical and spiritual wellbeing. These activities replace time that might be spent in the streets by investing time building new skills, strengthening positive friendships, exploring their creative potential and motivating self-expression. NWDP gives children the opportunity to build their confidence, grow as leaders, lead healthier lives as well as become part of a tribe. They are also exposed to day trips to other dance related events and receive performance opportunities, for which they are sometimes remunerated for to support their household as is their unfortunate reality.
This project further encourages the children to connect with their own stories and heritage. It also helps them to connect and become tolerant of others through respectful communication, support and teamwork. The NWDP bridges its classes with the NWDT to integrate students from different socio-economic backgrounds and to build cross-cultural relationships.
The NWDT trains in the areas of traditional dance, contemporary and hip-hop whilst the NWPD has had more success with the traditional dance as it relates best to the children benefiting from the community projects. NWDP also has an annual initiative called Street Style Stories, which exhibits Namibian dancers and their stories after a month-long intensive workshop. This project is also very impactful as it changes the perception and relationship dancers have with dance, and dance as a perspective of life.
Currently, the program is in need of funding to continue its positive impact in the lives of the youth by buying dance appropriate clothes for the students in Otjomuise, as well as investing in future training for qualified and skilled dance teachers to expand dance education into more community projects and eventually schools.
Check more about Nikhita Winkler Dance Theatre here.