Remembering Johnny: An OYO dance tribute

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Remembering Johnny: An OYO dance tribute

Jean-Philippe Leo Smet, better known by his stage name Johnny Hallyday, was a French rock’n’roll and pop singer and actor, credited for having brought rock’n’roll to France. During a career spanning 57 years, he released 79 albums, sang an estimated 1,154 songs and sold more than 110 million records worldwide. He had five diamond albums, 40 golden albums, 22 platinum albums and earned 10 Victoires de la Musique, an annual award ceremony in France. 

Hugely popular in France, he is often seen as a ‘national monument’ and a part of the French cultural legacy. He died on 5 December 2017, aged 74. He would have turned 80 on 15 June 2023. To celebrate his work, the OYO dance troupe and guests will perform a tribute on 04 August at the National Theatre of Namibia.  

Dr Philippe Talavera, OYO’s director and choreographer said the songs of Johnny speak of rock’n’roll, passion, betrayal, and life in jail. “Using OYO’s technique of physical theatre, we will perform 15 of his songs. You don’t need to understand French to enjoy his songs. His unique deep voice, his fast tempo and catching melodies can be enjoyed by all. He is, in France, as famous as Edith Piaf or Jacques Brel. I know the Namibian public will enjoy his songs, even if he is not known yet here.”

The OYO dancers will be joined by guest Nsimba Faycal who performed at the NAMA awards, PSquare concert, and Boys2man concert, and LeClue Job, the winner of Talent Africa 2021 and Breakfree from Violence performance arts competition 2022. Five of the songs will be performed live by renowned performer Sven-Eric Müller, accompanied by the Hot Pocket Band and a choir of 50 teenagers learning French in school. Clementine Ruel will join Sven-Eric Müller for a special rendition of HJai un problèmeJ. 

“This will be a massive production with over 70 performers on stage, between the choir, musicians, lead singers and dancers. We have been working on it since January. The public can expect a real OYO treat.”

The show will be performed today at the National Theatre of Namibia in the morning for schools. A public performance will be open to all from 19h00. Tickets are available at 

This project is supported by the Consulat Général de France in Johannesburg and the Franco-Namibian Cultural Centre.