Forced to listen .. never have the arts been more needed! (Review by Verne Rowin Munsamy)
The Centre for Creative Arts, under its new leadership and in conjunction with UKZN and other international funders, opened the 18th Jomba! contemporary dance experience last night.
The Sneddon Theatre, nestled on the UKZN campus played host to two international dance works: from Switzerland- MAMAZA, choreographed and danced by Ioannus Mandafounis and Fabrice Mazliah and from France- Calle Obrapia#4, choreographed and performed by Anne Reymann, Corinne Pontana, Roland Rocha, Jean-Antoine Bigot and Anne Le Batard of Compagnie Ex Nihilo.
The festival opens, as it always does, with a speech by Artistic Director, Lliane Loots. She is able to rally and inspire artists as she paints the political landscapes of South Africa, explains the epidemic of cultural bombs and asks us to decolonise our minds. Loots, in her wisdom, urges dancers and artists to ‘fight against the death of our resistance’ as is our obligation. And with these sentiments of speaking our history through dance and movement, we watch as these two international acts re-envision what it means to dance and deconstruct their own narratives and history and pay their in way to come share these experiences with us.
MAMAZA deconstructs technique, and skill to bring us a fresh take on dance performance. The 2 dancers underscore the piece with monologues and duologue that start in a frenzy, moves through silence and surprises us with strength and balance. It is astonishing that the dancers speak the entire soundtrack while demonstrating their aged technique. In almost like a Comedia Del Arte style, they describe their encounters, recount their narratives and narrate the experiences. Dressed in shorts and T shirts, they casually weave and manoeuvre their way around and on a plastic-covered dance floor, which made for some fantastic mirror reflections. I felt that this reflection could have been incorporated into the piece more but nonetheless, from manic pace to slow motion and stills, their simplicity owned the space.
The second piece for the night was more site-specific in nature as the work was staged outside the theatre, outside the foyer. In almost Parcore/contact improv style these five dancers literally climb up the walls to reach new heights. Their movement and synergy is quite tranquil with moments of gasping awe. This French Company, delight us with their choreography as they use handheld radios and local stations to underscore their experience. They were like the red rose growing in a concrete jungle, free, beautifully isolated and rare as they spoke the freedom and joy of the dancing body.
Jomba! runs until September 4 at The Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre, Pieter Scholtz Open Air Theatre, KZNSA Gallery and workshops in the UKZN Drama Department. Still to look forward to are works by Vincent Mantsoe, Desirè Davids, Youth Fringe, Flatfoot and international representation by Daniel Renner. Forced to listen .. never have the arts been more needed! - Verne Rowin Munsamy