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Monday, August 24, 2015

JOMBA! 2015

(INTRODANS Trompe L'Oeil. Copyright Introdans. Photo Hans Gerritsen)

The Centre for Creative Arts and the College of Humanities of the University of KwaZulu-Natal proudly present the 17th annual JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience which runs from August 26 to September 6.

This year’s JOMBA! is an international and national treat for dance and theatre lovers with dancers, dance companies and choreographers making their way to Durban from all corners of the globe. For 12 full days, the Centre for Creative Arts offers some of the world’s best dance theatre work that will provoke, entertain, delight and challenge.

With the long-term vision of using the JOMBA! platform to honour the African continent and to continue to make artistic connection with the rest of Africa, the festival opens with two works from West Africa. Lagos-based Nigerian choreographers Adedayo Liadi and Qudus Onikekeu offer JOMBA! the world premiere of their new duets called City of God, City of Man. Imagining the stage as the “city” the audience enters this performance world where these two virtuoso dancers work both in and out of harmony in a conversation about contemporary Africa.

This is followed by the rare and beautiful dance theatre vision of Kisangani (Democratic Republic of Congo) based Faustin Linyekula. No stranger to JOMBA! (this is his third visit), Linyekula’s unique and critical vision of contemporary Africa has always made his work the key taking point at any festival. He comes to JOMBA! with his internationally acclaimed solo work Le Cargo. In this dance work, He addresses the colonial and postcolonial African legacy of decades of war, terror, fear … all of which settle on the body; and his body specifically. He tackles, with the clarity of speaking truth to power, the legacies of memory and forgetting.

Dutch company, INTRODANS, join JOMBA! to offer a stellar programme (three performances only) of dance works from their award winning repertoire. Considered one of Europe’s leading touring companies, INTRODANS works in a neo-classical ballet idiom that will definitely delight both ballet and contemporary dance lovers alike. They have titled their JOMBA! 2015 programme JOY4DANCE and it features two works by Dutch master Jiří Kylián where he display his delicate and profound ability to make partner work.

The programme also includes a short quirky worked called Psycho Killer choreographed by Daniel Ezralow in which dancers are tied together with elastic bands and yet still manage to perform the whirlwind choreography.

The programme concludes with a dynamic work by Robert Battle. Since 2011 Battle has been the artistic director of the famous Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre in New York. Battle’s major quality as a choreographer is his dynamic and physically challenging dance idiom and, of course, his imagination. Bon Appétit! was created especially for INTRODANS in 2007 and offers 12 dancers full of energy and dynamism.

Supporting the local dance industry, JOMBA! is proud to offer Siwela Sonke Dance Theatre celebrating its 20th year this year, a platform to present its most recent and controversial offering called rite. Directed and conceptualised by Jay Pather and choreographed jointly by him and the full cast, rite premiered at this year’s Dance Umbrella in Johannesburg in February, and caused a storm of critical discussion. No stranger to controversy and sitting on the cutting edge, Pather’s rite is a re-imaginations of Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du Printemps (Rite of Spring), first presented with Nijinsky’s choreography of 1913. Using the vehicle of ancient ritual to probe the contemporary, rite is a journey into a deep and dark contemporary Africa and is dance theatre at its most profound!

JOMBA! 2015 will proudly host the outcome of the 3rd year of a long-term dance collaboration between Deeply Rooted Dance Theatre (Chicago, USA) and Durban’s celebrated Flatfoot Dance Company. This collaboration began in 2013 at the JOMBA! platform, went on to continue in Chicago in July 2014, and returns to Durban for 2015. Despite the huge challenges of finance, navigating the distance (spatially and in the head and heart) of North/South hemispheres, and 24 hour flights across numerous time zones, these two companies have found each other in a space of mutual respect and recognition of the dance and art education work they do. This JOMBA! 2015 programme is a testament to some audacious personal and artistic will to keep the connection alive and offers five unique works; some from the Deeply Rooted repertoire, and some from the collaborative space shared by these two companies, dancers and choreographers. The programme features dance work by Chicago’s Kevin Iega Jeff, Nicole Clarke Springer, Anthony Marshall, Gary Abbot and Durban’s Lliane Loots.

Finally, on the main platform performance front, JOMBA! continues its long-standing relationship with artSPACE durban Gallery where Johannesburg based dance and performance artist Nhanhla Mahlangu will perform his acclaimed work, CHANT. Directed by Gerard Bester, the work is a site-specific dance theatre response to contemporary manipulations of nature, the use of technology, religion, tradition and politics to the point where our only spaces (living and in the mind) are crippled. It is a heartfelt and very beautiful word, sound and physical danced work that honours Mahlangu’s desire to leave a better world to his two daughters.

The artSPACE durban event also offers a site-responsive viewing of the outcome of a collaborative exchange between the Floating Outfit Project (Durban, South Africa) and Studios Kabako (Kisangani, Democratic Republic of Congo). Guided by Faustin Linyekula and Boyzie Cekwana, this laboratory programme has featured nine dancers from both West and South Africa. Cekwana and Linyekula see this artistic space – intriguingly called Redefining … Homework - as part of an ongoing 15-year long conversation that asks the young artists involved to find their truth as they share (homework style?) what it means to be an artist living and working in Africa.

JOMBA! hosts its usual platforms of the Fringe (September 1) with 10 new works of 10 to 15 minutes each, and the Youth Fringe (August 30). With over 30 entries for a coveted place in this year’s JOMBA! Fringe, the selection of only 10 works was a difficult task but it means that the final selection offers a standard of dance theatre that is growing. The JOMBA! Youth Fringe takes place in the Pieter Scholtz Open Air Theatre at UKZN (entrance is free) and is a celebration of over 20 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 visit the JOMBA page on These workshops and classes are offered free of charge but booking is essential.

A first for JOMBA! is a special dance lighting workshop hosted by USA based Christian Epps. Epps comes to JOMBA! with Chicago’s Deeply Rooted Dance Theatre team and his willingness to be here has him taking on a vital role in the technical team for the whole of the festival, and offering this dedicated lighting workshop for choreographers on August 31 at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre. Some 20 participants were chosen from a very rigorous application process.

Tickets R60 (R45 scholars/students/pensioners) booked through Computicket or available at venue from one hour before.

JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience runs from August 26 to September 6. All shows take place at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre at 19h30 except on September 2 when the performance takes place at artSPACE Durban at 18h30.

For more information, visit and join on Facebook (JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience) and Twitter (Twitter@Jomba_dance).

JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience is organised by the Centre for Creative Arts (UKZN) with valuable support from the eThekwini Municipality.