Hip-hop’s smallest dancer is making one massive statement


People have been trying to save Oscar von Memerty’s life since the day he was born. Having survived a high-risk pregnancy, his first few years were tremendously difficult. Von Memerty has a rare condition called Maroteaux Lamy Syndrome Type 6 (MPS VI), which has dwarfed his physical growth. Now 21 years old, he stands at two thirds of the height of the average male. But while his body was stagnant, Von Memerty was growing his will. And this has allowed him to save his own life. Defying the odds, he has become a professional hip-hop dancer, turning his biggest liability into an asset.

In the early days Von Memerty’s family sought ways to lessen the effects of his condition. MPS VI can be fatal if not treated at the right time. His sister tragically passed away in 1998, having lived with the condition as well. After Von Memerty’s body rejected a bone marrow transplant he had to undergo a second, riskier, procedure. After the operation his lung collapsed, sending him into a ten-day coma. He survived, and the treatment saved his life. With the love and support of his parents, Von Memerty made it through. And found his identity in hip-hop.

Today Von Memerty’s greater goal is to inspire others through his motivational speaking to turn their disadvantages to their advantage. His life is the perfect victory study. When medicine could not fix him, Von Memerty realised that he did not need to change – only that he needed to improvise. Freestyle dance is all about the unexpected and unconventional, a mindset we need to embrace if we are to find our originality as South Africans.