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Thursday, August 29, 2019


The line-up is simply too enticing for any contemporary dance lover and I look forward to two weeks of rebellion. (Review by Verne Rowin Munsamy)

Still holding us hostage in history ...

Contemporary Dance has the power to shift mindsets, challenge politics and tell unheard stories. This year JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience celebrates, not just dancing bodies that are stirring up a rebellion, but also 21 years of pure joy for dance, evolutionary styles and artists, dancers, choreographers and even film makers from all around the globe. This year, this dance experience exemplifies the theme of migration and a quest for a place and space to bestow the title of home. As Dr Lliane Loots, Artistic Director of JOMBA! so aptly points out, the dance experience this year aims to establish a community of migrant and exiled bodies, who aim to create dance works that are a danger to politics and remind us of the struggles that were fought over land and that some of these unfurnished dreams are yet to be realised.

Opening night was populated with two works from Cape Town based dance company, JAZZART. The first of which was Cape of Ghosts, choreographed by Durban expat Sifiso Kweyama, who is no stranger to the stages of JOMBA!. This choreography examines the history of slavery in Cape Town and the migrant workers that built the city to its glory. It questions the promises made of land and ownership and the denial of a 'home' for many exiled and migrant labourers who were forced to give up so much. The astute technique is integrated well with the concept of displacement and forgotten-ness as well as longing to a homeland. This notion of the minorities being usurped by the disadvantaged majority is very evident and the piece reveals a revolt to the power systems of apartheid and enslavement. The risky lifts were juxtaposed with heavy falling which made for interesting disarray. The lights were simplistic but effective. The main idea of freeing the enslaved and returning one to the land they call home is ever clear. Secondary to this was the theme of misuse of power. I particularly enjoyed the accapella rhythms created by the dancers.

The second dance piece, Limitless Self, was choreographed by Shaun Oelf. This exploration of the self in relation to community was rather intriguing. The floor work here was more gentle than the first piece. The pair work was more challenging and saw much greater risks in terms of lifts and catches. I watched with joy as these six dancers displayed their technique and stamina with great agility and poise. Both pieces portray the versatility of contemporary dance and the amalgamation of styles evident in it.

JOMBA! runs nightly for the next two weeks with the line-up changing every second night. While the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre is the primary venue, there are other performance venues like the KZNSA Art Gallery. We also see the return of Vincent Mantsoe and Boysie Cekwana along with some new artists from Washington. The line-up is simply too enticing for any contemporary dance lover and I look forward to two weeks of rebellion. - Verne Rowin Munsamy

Booking is at Computicket.