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Tuesday, September 20, 2011


(Pic by Seppe Ruberti: Thobeka TeeKay Quvane in “Aye Asan”)

I wasn’t able to see the whole of the Jomba! 2011 programme so had to concentrate on the local component and what I saw certainly impressed me. (Review by Caroline Smart)

The programme on September 8 included works by three choreographers: Similar Pathways by S’fiso Magesh Ngcobo; Devolva by Mlu Zondi; and Aye Asan (vanity) by Adedayo Liadi

Similar Pathways was created through a Jomba! New Works Grant. In his programme notes, S’fiso Magesh Ngcobo states: “We all face joy, sadness, sorrow, pain and the rising and falling that seems to make up art of our journey. If we can only hold onto this, we would see the real meaning of ubuntu in each other, and while we might not feel like we are going in the same, direction, our life paths land up being similar.”

The piece was performed by Sifiso Khumalo and S’fiso Magesh Ngcobo who have worked together for so long that they almost think as one. At the times when their choreographed movements were identical, it was poetry in motion. There were also some impressive leaps and catches which can only be breathtakingly successful in their “spontaneity” if the dancers completely trust each other and know each other’s capabilities. The poetry and singing was done by Mfundi Ndwalane from a poem written by Gugu Dlamini. The effective use of sign language added a different focus to the work and Andiswa Gebashe handled this element with grace and distinction. Rogers Ganeshan’s set was simple but effective.

Also enjoying the sponsorship of a Jomba! New Works Grant, Devolva choreographed by Mlu Zondi, is a performance art work first created in Los Angeles, California, during his residence at 18th Art Centre. It was performed at Highway’s performance space as a durational work, happening at the same time as a performance by New York artist Anya Liftig. The piece has now been reworked into a duet and the US performance into a video artwork that reflects the dancer’s psyche and memory.

Performing the piece with Sanele Mzinyane, Mlu Zondi takes his audience on a slow, evolving journey that takes place on two squares. These are divided by a screen which provides a perfect platform for some interesting shadow play. The dancers are dressed in sailor suit outfits and the opening soundscape could place them in a submarine – an eerie space with strange monotonous electronic sounds. Each character is locked into his space, only the shadows eventually merge into one.

Featuring Durban’s Flatfoot Dance Company, Aye Asan was choreographed by Adedayo Liadi from Nigeria who returns to Durban to renew a six-year working relationship with Lliane Loots and Flatfoot Dance Company. Also appearing with the Flatfoot dancers are Thobeka “TeeKay” Quvane and Frank Konwea. Liadi states in his programme notes that “This dance work is about the good, the bad and the ugly in all of us – and the choices we make along the way.” While Aye Asan has some powerful content, including a skilfully handled raped scene, it is a visually beautiful piece and involved the extraordinary sight of a double bass player and his instrument being pulled slowly across the stage on a trolley.

The lighting for all three dance works was excellent. – Caroline Smart