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Thursday, August 21, 2014

16th JOMBA!

(Jabu Siphika & Julia Wilson of Flatfoot Dance Company in “HOPE” . Pic by Val Adamson)

The University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Centre for Creative Arts WILL present its 16th annual JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience from August 27 to September 7 at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre with one performance at artSpace (Durban) on September 4.

This year’s JOMBA! is a specially focused MSANZI edition of the festival with attention being given to supporting some of South Africa’s top dance companies and dance-makers. In an unprecedented move by one of Africa’s biggest and most prestigious contemporary dance platforms, JOMBA! 2014 has decided to give support and offer recognition to five of South Africa’s most awarded and cutting edge dance companies with a special invites to Vuyani Dance Theatre (JHB), Moving Into Dance Mophatong (JHB), Flatfoot Dance Company (DBN), First Physical Theatre Company (Grahamstown) and the Floating Outfit Project (DBN).

The festival opens with Vuyani Dance Theatre offering two works; Beautiful Us created by Gregory Maqoma and Dominion choreographed by Luyanda Sidiya. Maqoma’s Beautiful Us is a tour de force that has travelled the world to standing ovations and is a poetic invocation, as part of his renowned Beauty Trilogy, for humanity to pause to give planet earth some space and, as Maqoma says, “to pause a while to give our traditions, our humanity space to find the much needed change we all feel must manifest”. Maqoma is one of South Africa’s most travelled choreographers and JOMBA! is delighted that he returns to our platform to share a unique dance vision.

Joining Maqoma, is Vuyani’s Luyanda Sidiya in his politically charged Dominion which, like Maqoma’s Beautiful Us that weeps and dances for a better world, Sidiya’s Dominion looks at how humanity has distorted its human to human notions of power. This work is sure to be one of the great talking points of this year’s festival.

Also featured is Durban’s inimitable Flatfoot Dance Company. Fresh from a tour to Chicago (USA), Lliane Loots and her incomparable six Flatfoot dancers will present a soulful and deeply personal collaboration with the musical genius of Durban’s singer/songwriter Shannon Hope. Entitled HOPE, Loots takes her inspiration from weaving Shannon Hope’s poignant torch song lyrics into a contemporary dance landscape.

HOPE is an ironic and sometimes witty encounter with the quagmire of contemporary love relationships. This is new territory for Loots who, often known for the dissident social and political voice in her dance work, steps into a more interior and personal landscape. Perhaps, in the end, Loots’s HOPE is a reminder that love relationships are the very fabric of daily lives and as such become part of the deepest sense of understanding ourselves; both difficult and joyful?

No strangers to JOMBA! and Durban dance audiences, Moving Into Dance Mopathong, break new ground at JOMBA! 2014 with a collaborative dance theatre work between MIDM’s own Sonia Radebe and Canadian choreographer Jennifer Dallas from Kẹmi Contemporary Dance Projects based in Toronto. Titled Ngizwise, Radebe and Dallas offer a meeting of two dynamic female choreographers and their search for what is common and what is unique in their different styles and cultural contexts. Ngizwise is a deft and moving meeting between choreographers and dancers – cross-cultural, cross continent - as they begin to reveal the intimate stories of South Africa and the voices of the ‘born free generation’.

From an absence from touring South African dance, JOMBA! is extremely proud to present the magical and thought-provoking work of Grahamstown based First Physical Theatre Company. First Psychical –as they are fondly called – have been iconic over the last 20 years offering new idioms and new ways of thinking about dance and theatre, and they come to JOMBA! 2014 with an especially created programme of three works with an all-female company.

Under the artistic directorship of Juanita Finestone-Praeg (one of the original founder members for First Physical), this programme for JOMBA! highlights the corporeal imagination in the making and performing of original South African choreographies. These performance ‘experiments’ continue First Physical’s legacy in questioning ways of making and creating dance theatre.

First Physical’s JOMBA! 2014 programme includes two works by the current company manager, and seasoned choreographer Athina Vachla, as well as an original work by company member, Nomcebisi Moyikwa. Vachla’s Deadringer, combines the authentic language of boxing with dance, in a sport-theatre performance. Moyikwa, a new choreographic voice describes her work, Caught, as “a chapter of my choreographic autobiography as a young black female”.

Finally, on the main platform performance front, JOMBA! continues its long-standing relationship with artSpace (durban) Gallery where it hosts Durban’s Boyzie Cekwana and his Floating Outfit Project. Cekwana’s own brand of deconstructed and highly evocative postcolonial dance making will baffle, delight and challenge audiences. His work, wittily titled Love Letters Locking Lips/5km of Marshmallows has been especially crafted for the art gallery and as he says, “Love songs, love letters, love bites, or is it bytes? This is an experimental performance poem in loving memory of the poetic love lyric, on paper, in the body or in cheesy love songs. It is an explorative experiment in the various expressions of love and loving, in tender or violent articulations. Welcome to the marshmallow sea”.

JOMBA! 2014 is also extremely proud to begin a new chapter in the festival’s history with the start of a very special long-term residency programme that began in June 2014. Hosted and facilitated by Boyzie Cekwana, Dialogues Africa invited KZN-based choreographers to apply to participate. Over a series of interviews and rigorous meetings, eight dancer makers were selected; Sifiso Majola, Gcina Shange, Julia Wilson, Jabu Siphika, Sifiso Khumalo, Teagan Peacock and Mlekeleli Khuzwayo.

The residency is an on-going dedicated attempt to reboot and reload the space for thought, movement, dance making and ultimately, dialogue(s) towards the growth and survival of critical South African dance makers. Cekwana’s own style of facilitation is not shy of understanding that the mind is the individual’s biggest muscle and he is using this dialogue, as he says, “to create an evocative arts space, not only to dream, but also to re-activate, re-create, re-assess and re-consider that which passes as knowledge, in all its guises; technique, creativity and even choreography!”

Alongside facilitator Cekwana and Loots, as artistic director of the festival, JOMBA! looks to this Dialogues Africa as a pit-stop in the endurance race to create spaces in Durban, Johannesburg, Maputo, Kinshasa, Kisangani and elsewhere on the continent for dance and its makers to remember to speak. As Cekwana so poetically says; “this JOMBA! dialogue offers a place to speak our names and those names in danger of erasure under the power of arts and culture apathy. As dance makers we need to bring forth our courage to act, to speak… to be citizens. It is our attempt to learn to speak/dance and not be spoken for”. The 2014 residency culminates on the last night of the festival (September 7) where audiences will be treated to a glimpse into working process and some of the dance making that has been generated.

For those who are interested in watching the final week of the residency unfold, artSpace (durban) will host the final working week and audiences are encouraged (free of charge) to pop in over lunch-time between 13h00 and 14h00 to see what is unfolding from September 2 to 6.

JOMBA! hosts its usual platforms of the Fringe (September 1) and the Youth Fringe (August 31). With over 40 entries for a coveted place in this year’s JOMBA! Fringe, the selection of only 10 works was a difficult task but means that the final selection offers a standard of dance theatre that is growing. The JOMBA! Youth Fringe takes place at the UKZN Open Air Theatre (entrance is free) and is a celebration of over 28 KZN based youth dance groups and the incredible dance work that they are doing.

JOMBA! also offers a full programme of workshops and master classes by all of the participating dancers and choreographers. For a full listing go to and go to the JOMBA! page. These workshops and classes are offered free of charge but booking is essential. The workshops are only open to dancers 16 years and older. Call 082 875 6065 during office hours or e-mail to book a place; at least two days in advance of the workshop.

Performance tickets R60 (R45 scholars, students and pensioners) booked through Computicket (or at the venue from one hour before). For more information, go to and like the Facebook page (JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience) and follow on Twitter (Twitter@Jomba_dance).