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Sunday, August 13, 2017


South African and KZN talent to shine at this year’s 19th annual JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience from August 23 to September 3.

The JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience, hosted by the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Centre for Creative Arts (situated in the College of Humanities), showcases South African and international choreographers, dancers and dance-makers.

Dance-lovers can expect to see a variety of contemporary styles speaking to myriad issues from Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town, and then further afield from Holland (INTRODANS), Germany (steptext dance projects) and the West African country of Benin (Marcel Gbeffa).

Opening night on August 23 features choreography by South Africa’s celebrated dancer and dance-maker Gregory Maqoma of Vuyani Dance Theatre in collaboration with Helge Letonja, of Germany’s steptext dance projects.

Benin dancer and choreographer Marcel Gbeffa, will not only perform his acclaimed solo work Et Si ..., through the support of Alliance Française (Durban), the Institut Français d’Afrique du Sud, but will also run JOMBA’s annual festival residency with five local dancers: Bonwa Mbontsi, Tegan Peacock, Steven Banzoulu, Sibonelo “China” Mchunu, and Kim McCusker-Bartlett. The culmination of the residency will be given a showing at the JOMBA! @ the KZNSA event on August 28 at 18h00.

Cape Town-based Mamela Nyamza, makes her JOMBA! debut this year. Often called the agent provocateur of South African contemporary dance, Nyamza’s outspoken and politically edgy dance theatre work has garnered a worldwide reputation. In her newest work, DE-APART-HATE, Nyamza takes on the legacy of the “rainbow nation” and begins to question issues around religion, race, sexuality and gender. The work is a visceral engagement with the politics of decolonisation. Not for the faint-hearted but will definitely be the talking point for this year’s festival.

With a strong emphasis on looking at the key women choreographers making dance waves in South Africa, JOMBA! is proud to present the 2017 Standard Bank Young Artist (SBYA) for dance, Thandazile “Sonia” Radebe. Considered, in 2013, by the Mail and Guardian, to be one of the top 200 young South Africans to look out for, Radebe has a long and illustrious career as both dancer and choreographer. As a 2003 graduate of Moving Into Dance Mophatong, Radebe spent over 15 years working with MIDM before heading off on her own. Her SBYA work commissioned for the National Arts Festival, SABELA is inspired by our names as human beings. Through SABELA, Radebe explores the tension between these names and numbers that ultimately concludes that we do not have to be reduced to ID Numbers, Student Numbers, Employee Numbers, Prison Numbers, and Patient Numbers. It is a thoughtful and deeply beautiful dance work that defines a new lexicon of important dance works emerging in South Africa.

JOMBA! will host its second venue partnership with the KZNSA Gallery for 2017 (August 28 at 18h00). The gallery space offers an alternate kind of challenge to dance makers and for those intrepid artists who work outside of the traditions of the proscenium arch. Not only will this event see the outcome of Benin’s Marcel Gbeffa’s JOMBA! residency, but the evening will host three new works by some of Durban’s most cutting-edge voice. All three of the invited choreographers have opted to make site –specific or in sutu performance work and so this year the JOMBA! @ the KZNSA Gallery is also the JOMBA! KZN ON THE EDGE featuring new works by Sifiso Khumalo, Lorin Sookool and Mdu Mthsali.

Sifiso Khumalo’s Isifungo (meaning oath) uses the extremities of the stairs of the gallery space as dancers defy gravity and leap on walls and ceilings in a textual and embodied attempt to look at how often we break the oaths we make in our lives. Dancers find themselves trapped in between the walls of commitment. Khumalo is one of the founding members of Flatfoot Dance Company and has a long and celebrated Durban career as dancer, choreographer and dance educator.

Lorin Sookool performs her solo Bad in the main gallery space and it is a sharp and witty exploration of the notion of post-feminism in an image-obsessed, web-empowered generation. Through the portrayal of iconic sex symbol, Marilyn Monroe, Bad investigates the tension between the female body as object and the female body as sacred. Sookool, originally a Durban girl, is presently a company member at the Forgotten Angle Theatre Collaborative (FATC) based in rural Mpumalanga.

JOMBA!’S KZN ON THE EDGE finishes off with a duet by veteran Durban dancer Mdu Mtshali called Alive Kids. Performed in the courtyard of the gallery, this virtuoso duet offers up the image of two disenfranchised street children finding grace despite so much. Described as a work about personal transformation, this work is danced by the two 2017 ‘poster boys’ for JOMBA! - Nqubeko Ngema and Njabulo Zungu.

The JOMBA Fringe features 10 new works of 10 to 15 minute each on August 29, and the Youth Fringe on August 27. 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 participating dancers and choreographers. These workshops and classes are offered free of charge (dancer over 16 years only) but booking is essential via

For a full listing and the programme go to and link to the JOMBA! page. Follow on Facebook (JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience) and Twitter (Twitter@Jomba_dance)

The 19th JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience is under the artistic direction and curatorship of Lliane Loots and is organised and hosted and run by the Centre for Creative Arts (University of KwaZulu-Natal), and is supported primarily by the eThekwini Municipality.