Dance instructor Joshua Trebi smiles when he is asked whether earning money with dance is not actually very un-African. "That’s right. In Africa, being a dancer is not considered a profession. Everyone dances." Ghana is one of the few African countries to date where art had been included in the policy for combating poverty. One of the cultural policy's stars is the National Dance Company of Ghana. Established by the government in 1962, this dance company has been making lucrative world tours for quite some time.
Trebi was born in Ghana and is specialised in Ghanaian dance. "In Ghana itself, only a few people come to see the National Dance Company perform, but then the company's primary objective is to earn money. The government keeps a close eye on the company to ensure that it generates enough income. But the social function of dance in Ghana should not be underestimated. That is evident in the National Dance Company. It has members from various ethnical groups in Ghana, where dance stands for respect and reconciliation. It has made an important contribution to preventing the ethnical conflicts that wage in so many other African countries."
Trebi teaches at the Goyam Dance Institute in Accra, and also at the Fontys Academie in Tilburg, the Netherlands. Making him another product of Ghana's cultural policy, which is pretty progressive for an African country. "I am trained to be a dance instructor. But to capitalise on that, you have to go abroad. Ghana needs to develop its culture and go with the globalisation. The National Dance Company is also doing that. It wants to make the traditional Ghanaian dance types known and further their development. Another objective of the company is to offer training positions to dancers from all over the country. It is an excellent example of a successful attempt at linking culture and economy. The Ghana initiative is now being followed by an increasing number of countries, including South Africa, Senegal and Burkina Faso."
The National Dance Company of Ghana tours The Netherlands till 21 December 2008.