national Arts Festival Banner

Tuesday, August 29, 2017


(Nqubeko Ngema & Njabulo Zungu perform Mdu Mthsali’s new work, “Alive kids”)

Performance pieces broke the barrier between the dancer and the audience. (Review by Verne Rowin Munsamy)

KZN On The Edge is a Jomba! platform that seeks to support fresh innovative contemporary Dance work coming out of the KZN region. This year Jomba! partnered with KZNSA Gallery to showcase four works that were selected for growth and development. These performance pieces broke the barrier between the dancer and the audience as they use various levels of interaction in the different spaces that were explored.

The first work Otherwise, took place in the coffee bar area outside, under the canvas of the trees and modestly but well-lit by parcans and the night sky. It showcased the Jomba! residency which was a partnering between Marcel Gbeffa and five KZN dancers: Bonwa Mbontsi, Tegan Peacock, Steven Banzoulu, Sbonelo Mchunu and Kim McCusker-Bartlett. The dancers explored afro-traditional basics which revealed itself in a very inquisitive, contact improvisational kind of dance style. The audience became very much a part of the choreography and the dancers explored the connections between individuals and groups. A substantial amount of contact improvisation was utilised between dancers, the slated floor and the audience. The first duet displayed a playful, inquisitive energy and relationship which made use if the entire space while the second duet demonstrated a relationship that was approaching its final stages. The audience is privy to the importance of human touch and interaction.

The second piece, Isiungo, was choreographed and danced by Sfiso Khumalo of Flatfoot Dance Company and features Gcina Shange, Zinhle Nzama, Jabu Siphika and Thobile Maphanga. The live music by musicians Siyabonga Mkhombe and Mduduzi Mbuyazi was an interesting layer of the piece which unpacks the consequences of broken oaths. The African contemporary choreography, performed on the gallery stair include the lengthy wall as a sixth dance almost, sharing weight and assisting with lifts.

Piece three, Bad, moved us all into the main gallery itself. Choreographed and performed by Lorin Sookool from Forgotten Angle Theatre Collaborative with illustration by Brooke Schafer. The illustrations added immensely to the tone of the piece which unpacks the commodification, exploitation and abuse of the female form. Propped with a mirror, an old PC shell and dressed as the iconic Marilyn Monroe, Sookool spends most of the time in a shoulder stand, on her back, forcing the audience to question the way we view women and the female body.

My favourite piece of the night was choreographed by Mdu Mtshali, Alive Kids. It is beautifully danced by Nqubeko Ngema and Njabulo Zungu, both of whom get technically stronger with every show I see them in; they certainly are a powerful pairing on stage with great stage presence. They allow the choreography to look remarkable while at the same time remaining true to the story being told. The concept is that of two streets kids finding hope in whatever little is thrown their way. I loved the use of powder on the jackets which when dusted would get trapped in the light creating dust patterns. It was the perfect way to end the night as the piece urged us to ponder our actions and prompt change to occur now!  - Verne Rowin Munsamy