Ricardo to spice things up at Amoyo

Ricardo Koopman getting stuck into the first set of trials.

Hout Bay’s Amoyo Performing Arts Foundation announced the appointment of well-known dance teacher, Ricardo Koopman, as its new modern, contemporary and creative funk dance teacher.

On Thursday September 17, children from all over flocked to the amphitheatre after the foundation announced that trial classes would be held and people could get a taste of what the new dance teacher had to offer.

“This is extremely exciting for me. As I have said before, I want to come back to Hout Bay and hopefully I am able to make a difference in these kids’ lives. Dance has the ability to change one’s life and I am determined to prove that,” he said.

The dance choreographer, teacher and artistic director announced earlier this year that he intended to take his dance project, Ricardo’s Modern Dance Studio, back to Hout Bay, where he grew up, (“Dancing towards a better future”, Sentinel News, May 29). He had been faced with some difficulties and was therefore unable to continue running his classes.

Mr Koopman had then set his sights on returning to the drawing board and returning to the place he once called home.

“I reached out for support and I always said that I will come back to this beautiful place. People have asked me in other areas to come back and teach, but I hold Hout Bay very close to my heart and I have always said that I will come back here and make a difference,” Mr Koopman said.

The kid who walked from his Hout Bay home to the city centre for his classes and auditions, went on to dance his way onto the Artscape and Baxter stages and into some big-name productions, including Phantom of the Opera.

Mr Koopman is now a qualified modern dance teacher in contemporary and creative movement. For many years, he taught for free in Hout Bay, in search of raw talent, but with no financial backing it wasn’t easy.

“I drove in between Hout Bay and the city centre, offering these free classes, but I also have to live and I also have to make sure I can afford to get there. Teaching dance has always played a major role in my life and I always felt like it was my calling. I am hoping this can be a great opportunity for me and that I can build further relationships in the Hout Bay community,” Mr Koopman said.

The Amoyo Performing Arts Foundation is an award-winning non-profit organisation working with at risk youth in the townships. They use professional performing arts classes and life skills development to uplift and help them reach true success in life.

Founder, Kim Worrall, said: “We are delighted to welcome Ricardo to the team, it really is an honour to have him on our team.”

She said that Mr Koopman would help the foundation reach out to more children from Hout Bay, highlighting his 35 years of teaching experience as a key tool.

“He’s got the right experience in terms of working with children with different types of backgrounds and his got a beautiful personality, very warm, very passionate and very driven,” Ms Worrall said.

While Amoyo was also “financially under-resourced” and their future remained uncertain, Ms Worrall said they planned to use the rest of their funds to reach out to as many children as possible, with some exciting plans on the cards. “Our project for end of the year is, ‘Every Child Matters’, and we are looking forward to working with Ricardo and we will try and reach out to as many as we can,” Ms Worrall said.

Top achievers from the Amoyo project are granted an opportunity to further their training at the Waterfront Theatre School as part of an ongoing relationship.

The school’s executive director, Delia Sainsbury, said: “We have this wonderful tie-up with Amoyo as they are doing some great foundation work in dance and their top students are recommended to come to the theatre school to receive professional training and to add, they are quite a remarkable organisation.”

Ms Sainsbury, who also lives in Hout Bay, applauded the appointment of Mr Koopman, saying that his “amazing” teaching abilities could become a key asset for Amoyo.

“I am so delighted and he has got such an incredible reputation. He is a brilliant modern dance teacher and is going to be such an asset to Amoyo. He loves his children and he is incredibly creative and has a first-class reputation,” she said.

“As a dance practitioner myself, who’s been in this industry since the age of 17, I could not give a higher recommendation and I am really thrilled that he is at Amoyo. Those kids are going to benefit and learn so much from him.”

Ms Worrall added that the foundation was delighted to have also have somebody in their midst who already has a long-standing relationship with the community.

“Ricardo has a long-standing relationship with the Hangberg community and he is very well known there.

“We are delighted that he brings that connection and all his skill-set and knowledge with him.

“If all goes well, we really hope that he could become part of the Amoyo Foundation on a permanent basis because he has a lot to offer us and we look forward to seeing how the relationship develops,” Ms Worrall said.