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Saturday, August 6, 2016

18th JOMBA!

(Vincent Mantsoe, whose new solo work “KonKoriti” premieres on the festival)

The University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Centre for Creative Arts, presents its 18th annual JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience, at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre, Pieter Scholtz Open Air Theatre and KZNSA Gallery from August 24 to September 4.

This year’s JOMBA! is an international and national delight 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 of some of the world’s best dance theatre work that promises to provoke, entertain, delight, challenge and leave audiences breathless with the sheer joy of dance in all its various contemporary manifestations. This year’s festival hosts dancers and dance companies from Switzerland, Austria, India, Madagascar, Mozambique, Reunion Island, France and South Africa.

JOMBA! opening night in partnership with the Swiss Arts Council, Pro Helvetia, features one of Europe’s hot tickets in the form of a duet created by MAMAZA; a young Swiss company that are winning awards throughout the world. They bring a tender and viscerally challenging duet that places these two ex-Forsythe dancers in a reflecting stage space that sees their lives connect and re-connect in an endless algorithm of what two people can be with visions and echoes of themselves.

France’s Company Ex Nihilo, also features on opening night, offering a site responsive dance work for the audience as they leave the theatre. Ex Nihilo, based in Marseilles, create dance ‘interventions’ around a desire to regard shared public spaces as a work place, as they embrace spatial history, never excluding the passer-by and spectator. “We are particularly proud to host dance companies like Ex Nihilo who are breaking down the traditional barriers that often exist in theatre spaces,” says Artistic Director of JOMBA!, Lliane Loots.

Honouring the long term vision of JOMBA! to shine a light on the African continent and to make artistic connection with the rest of Africa, this 2016 festival will premiere a collaboration between three exceptional Southern African female dance-makers who come together to share their vision in dance. Desiré Davids (South Africa), Gabi Saranouffi (Madagascar) and Edna Jaime (Mozambique) present a work called Lady, Lady that is a result of various short residences over 2015/16 where they were able to meet and work together. These artists share, explore and exchange their realities in order to give voice to various commonalities, challenges and images as they move towards a commentary on current issues facing women in the African context. Full of wit, irony and spirited dance this is sure to be a talking point of the festival.

Continuing the festival’s connection to its continental history, Reunion Island’s Company Soul City returns to JOMBA! to present their newest work Priyèr Si Priyèr (fresh from a sold-out tour in Germany). The company is best known for the innovative ways in which it uses the genre of Hip Hop and its confluence into contemporary dance. Priyèr Si Priyèr is a quest of the sacred through ritual. Based on Hip Hop’s unique energy, this dance work uses Reunion Island and its people as the source of inspirations.

Hip-Hop and the power of the urban dance Bboyz and BGirlz is further highlighted at the festival with the collaboration between Austrian choreographer Daniel Renner and Durban’s inimitable Flatfoot Dance Company. Renner comes to Durban with two of Europe’s most prolific breakdancers, Bilal Bachir (Germany) and Maarten Krielen (Holland), to join forces with Durban’s Preston ‘Kayzo’ Kyd, as they meet the fluid grace and technical prowess of Flatfoot Dance Company in a new creation.

Titled IDHRA/breath, Renner returns to the sanctity of the “in and out breath”, the life force of all of us, and the very essence of dance, to create a mesmerising invocation to beauty. “This is Renner’s third collaboration with Flatfoot (all have premiered at the JOMBA! festivals) and he comes to Durban not as a guest but as family as he shares his unique dance vision with us.” explains Loots. Over his four-week residency, Renner will also spend time training and choreographing with the Flatfoot trainees to create a small new work for the JOMBA! Fringe programme. Break-dancers Bachir and Kreilen will also spend time exchanging and skills sharing with various eThekwini dance development programmes in Umlazi, Newlands, KwaMashu and Waterloo.

Another coup of JOMBA! 2016 is the African premiere of acclaimed South African born dancer/choreographer Vincent Mantsoe’s new solo work, KonKoriti. Meaning “a state of being”, KonKorti returns to the original solo format of Mantsoe’s award-winning and globally acclaimed style of dance making. Enthralling audiences with his vision of African contemporary dance and the meeting of Asian, African and contemporary styles, Mantsoe’s solo is a prayer to the power of self and is inspired by his own physical, spiritual and emotional growth as both a dance maker and as an African. “Mantsoe performed at the very first JOMBA! festival in 1997 and it is an honour for Durban to play host to him again,” says Loots. “As part of the festival, he will also be teaching a master class while in Durban so I would advise that interested dancers book early to learn from one of our continent’s great artists!”

JOMBA! 2016 will also present a programme at the KZNSA Gallery in Bulwer Road, Glenwood on August 29. “The gallery space offers an alternate kind of challenge to dance makers and for artists who work outside of the traditions of the proscenium arch,” says Loots. France’s Ex Nihilo continue their exploitation of everyday open space at this event with a dance performance work called Calle Obrapia #4. JOMBA! @ KZNSA Gallery will also host to one of India’s most controversial contemporary dance makers Preethi Athreya. Moving away from the classism and over-romaticisation of tradition, Athreya has created a solo that explores the reframing of notions of classism and beauty. Her solo, Across, not Over is created for, and performed by, Kathak dancer Vikram Iyengar and is, in the end, a tender and evocative meeting of two incredible dance talents and two dance styles; Baratha Natayam and Kathak. 

JOMBA! @ KZNSA Gallery is rounded off with a new work by Durban’s Lliane Loots, who partners again with spoken word maestro, Iain ewok Robinson, Durban’s Kathak expert Manesh Maharaj, filmmaker Karen Logan, and the ADD Flatfoot dancers. Loots has created MIGRATIONS (at the feet of Kali) for the main gallery space. This is the second part of Loots’s newest trilogy that looks at issues of ‘home’. The work can be viewed independently or in context to the first part HOMELAND (security) which was performed in April 2016 by Flatfoot Dance Company. It is an ‘in situ’ physical journey into the heart of colonial and post-colonial rememberings around the movements and/or migrations of people. Using personal memory as the starting point, this work interfaces with the convergence of Indian and South African histories, and will tackle some challenging notions around issues that will no doubt stir some controversy.

New to JOMBA! this year is KZN On The Edge a curated platform that seeks to support fresh and innovative contemporary dance work coming out of the KZN region. For this inaugural KZN On The Edge, three innovative selections have been made. The first is a collaboration between lighting designer Michael Broderick and David Gouldie called one man, one light, the second is the consistent excellence of past JOMBA! Fringe work being made by Tegan Peacok and her Pietermaritzburg based ReRouted Dance Company. They will premiere a new work called the Paraphernalia of suffering. The final performance place has been given to the newest “kids on the block”, Phakama Dance Company. Choreographer Sandile Mkhize will also premier a new work called take me back home. “This platform ensures that JOMBA! continues to mentor and support new and established KZN-based dance makers who are proving their mettle by consistently putting work of excellence into the public domain despite funding cuts,” says Loots.

JOMBA! hosts its Fringe on August 30 with 10 new works of 10 to 15 minute each, and the Youth Fringe on Sunday 28 August. 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 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 go to and go to the JOMBA! page. These workshops and classes are offered free of charge (dancers must be 16 years and older) but booking is essential.

Performances are from August 24 to 27 and August 30 to September 4 at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre at 19h30, at the Pieter Scholtz Open Air Theatre on August 28 at 14h00 and the @KZNSA Gallery on August 29 at 18h00.

Tickets R60 (R45 scholars/students/pensioners) for the Sneddon Theatre and bookings can be done through Computicket (or at venue from one hour before). Tickets for the KZNSA Gallery are R50 (no concessions) and available at venue only – from one hour before the performance. The JOMBA! Youth Fringe at the Pieter Scholtz Open Air Theatre is free.

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

The 18th JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience is under the artistic direction of Lliane Loots and organised and hosted by the Centre for Creative Arts (University of KwaZulu-Natal). The festival is supported primarily by the eThekwini Municipality.