Experience, exposure to the world, and education
My career is being a dance professional, but dance is also my passion and, I strongly believe, my purpose in life. In Namibia, a very young country with a small population size of slightly over 2.4 million people, being a professional dancer is not easily understood or accepted as a possible career field. This is why I saw an opportunity to become a pioneer in what I do, and to influence my society’s perception of the relevance and value of arts education by being and demonstrating the change I’d like to see. Fortunately, Namibia has given me a blank canvas to explore new ideas, create opportunities, and in my ability, to find creative solutions to the current national issues; fulfilling my responsibility as a Namibian citizen.
I am the founder of the Nikhita Winkler Dance Theatre (NWDT), which trains dancers from the age of 4 years in contemporary, hip-hop and traditional dance. Under this programme is the Nikhita Winkler Dance Project (NWDP), a community outreach programme decentralizing quality dance education to children from underprivileged communities and providing them with scholarship opportunities to train in the NWDT. This scholarship programme is still in the process of finding sponsors for selected students who are very talented and have shown commitment to their dance training in the Project. I believe that I can change the lives of these children by making them feel worthy of quality education and teaching them the results of hard work, commitment, dreams and ambitions; exposing them to a different reality than they are used to and building in them confidence, self-love and worth.
I also work with women. I teach a class called DancN Heels, which aims to empower women through dance. Coming from a family of strong women, for years I thought it was a family curse that we are only women – until recently when I realized that we are a powerful kingdom of women. Most women in my family are leaders in society, occupying high corporate positions or they are self-employed, like myself. I am mentioning this because it has only been for the past year that I have become passionate to work with women. It became important to me to help empower other Namibian women, and dance has been an incredibly useful tool to build confidence and teach our women self-love and appreciation of their bodies; to embrace their femininity, womanhood and power.
I am who I am because of my experiences, exposure to the world, and education.
Growing up in a school like UWC RCN, where I shared my first year with four students from different countries and religious backgrounds, and my second year with another four, taught me important lessons about tolerance, respect and peaceful communication. It was during this privileged educational experience that I first witnessed the possibilities of peace between peoples and nations: my Israeli roommate and a Palestinian classmate joined together and created a space in which they shared their stories and educated the rest of us about the conflict that has destroyed and affected the lives of many of their loved ones. Their stories were important to us, because we were all family now, living together in an isolated village on the west coast of Norway. It was a safe space of compassionate learners, where young minds were shaping their perceptions of the world in a context of diversity.
RCN was a rebirthing experience for me because not only did I hear stories from my friends but it also showed me that I, too, have a story to tell. Those stories have influenced my beliefs, perceptions, and connection to the world. Building close connections and friendships at RCN made me more tolerant and accepting of difference and diversity. My education at RCN also taught me to challenge myself and what is perceived as truth. I broke down many walls during my two years as I worked to rebuild myself as the person I now I want to become. And now, I am fulfilling the UWC mission. A road travelled by few, but I continue to walk that road because it has taught me love, tolerance, and understanding. This road has revealed to me the power I have. I now invest that power in other children because I know how fortunate I have been to have had such rich experiences and opportunities.
Here is a documentary about Nikhita and her work: