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Monday, August 27, 2012

JOMBA! 2012

(Vincent Mantsoe, who is to premier a new solo work. Pic ©Lynn Chaulieu Kolver)

Twelve days of dance await contemporary dance lovers with the 14th JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience presented by the Centre for Creative Arts, University of KwaZulu-Natal which runs from August 29 to September 9.

With principle support from the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, this year’s festival invites dance lovers and the public to explore exceptional performances, workshops led by leading choreographers, and opportunities to engage some of the world’s top dance makers as they “Talk Dance” after various performances.

JOMBA! fiercely holds onto its status as one of the few remaining dedicated spaces in South Africa where dance and choreography remain nurtured and supported, and continues to offer world class dance theatre that challenges audiences; asking that they come to the myriad festival offerings (performances, workshops and classes) with the intention to be shocked, surprised, entertained and above all, to celebrate a beautiful and critical art form.

As part of the France South Africa 2012-2013 Seasons exchange, JOMBA! plays host to a large contingent of French and Reunion dance companies and artists. From France comes the renowned Michel Kelemenis offering special dance theatre for young (and young at heart!) audiences. His Henriette & Matisse is a visually breathtaking work that dives into the art work of French painter Henri Matisse. Line and colour clash on stage in a dance work that is sure to delight audiences of all ages.

JOMBA! continues its rich collaborations between numerous South African artists and their Reunion Island colleagues. This includes the welcome return of Theatre Taliipot who two years ago brought Durban to their feet in their bold dance work Ma Ravan. For JOMBA! 2012, they present a collaboration with South African dancers that looks into San mythology. Titled !AÏA From cave to sky this stunning and highly visual dance work creates a dialogue about our origins, about life and the tenuous relationship between human beings and nature.

Johannesburg’s PJ Sabbagha and his Forgotten Angle Theatre Collaborative join forces with Reunion’s Eric Languet, in a meeting between dancers and choreographic styles that is sure to be a talking point of JOMBA! Entitled somewhere, out there, life was screaming, their piece is an existential journey into the nature of modern life, and whose use of lights and animation will certainly set precedents for choreographers to come!

Perhaps most unique for this year’s JOMBA! is a four-way collaboration between Dutch choreographer Jens van Daele, Durban’s much loved Flatfoot Dance Company and the musical ensemble Batida, that features both Swiss and French musicians. In a thrilling and very contemporary version of Stravinsky’s 1913 Le Sacre du Printemps, this opening night collaboration will blow audiences away with sheer force and power. Van Daele has titled his versions of Sacre, A spring (two) matter and while it honours our collective memory as dancers and musicians over the past 100 years with this music (and its rich dance history), it also tells of the struggle of positive and negative human beings in their struggle in thinking and acting. Maybe the old narrative of sacrifice to allow Spring to come, takes a deeper more internal contemporary meaning in Van Daele’s version?

Providing a prominent space for local South African artists is paramount to the vision of JOMBA! and this year, two of the country’s foremost dance makers in the form of Vincent Mantsoe and Jay Pather have been invited. Both return to Durban to showcase visions of dance that have seen them win numerous local and international awards. South Africa’s iconic Vincent Mantsoe premieres a new solo work called skwatta - an emotive journey dealing with poverty and informal settlements in South Africa. Mantsoe’s style of moving and creating has earned him a reputation as one of the world’s most eminent contemporary African dance makers.

Siwela Sonke Dance Theatre’s Jay Pather fuses text, video, installation and dance in a manner that gets audiences to look at themselves and the very nature of dance performance in different ways. Never shy of challenging an audience with his visually engaging dance work, Pather offers Caesar, interrupted where we see a dancer waiting to perform the role of Brutus in Qaphela Caesar, a production based on Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. As it begins to emerge that the original production is not going to happen, the original themes of masculinities, betrayal and unrequited ambitions bleed in and out of reality. The work becomes a meditation on suspension, inertia and deflation.

JOMBA!’s much prized New Works Grant for 2012 has been awarded to Durban’s Musa Hlatshwayo. Celebrated for his insightful intersection of both rural and urban stories, Hlatshwayo’s dance work looks to be another highlight of this year’s festival. Titled ABA(KA)NTU, it is the third and final work of his two year trilogy that seeks to study issues around Nguni identity. This last piece of the trilogy (also a work that can stand alone) seeks a possible definition of what being ‘umuntuongumnguni’ (a Nguni person) means nowadays from a perspective informed by renowned historians such as Credo Mutwa.

Organised by the Centre for Creative Arts (University of KwaZulu-Natal) the JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience is supported by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund (principal funder), HIVOS, City of Durban, The French South Africa 2012-2013 Season, and the National Arts Council.

All performances take place at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre. Book at Computicket or at the theatre one hour before the show. Tickets R50 (R35 students and pensioners). Pick up a JOMBA! brochure at promotional outlets or visit for programme details