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Sunday, August 22, 2021


artSMart is supporting the JOMBA! Khuluma Writing Residency by carrying student writers’ preview pieces to provide more exposure for their skills. The following is by:

Thembelani Bhengu (UKZN Resident Writer, 2021)

It is the 23rd JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience anniversary. JOMBA! will be an online free festival because of the ongoing pandemic. The 23rd JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience is presented by the Centre for Creative Arts at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban.

This year’s JOMBA! presents ideas of “Border Crossing”, and the programme has eleven platforms, that run over two weeks from August 24 – September 5, 2021. All performances are broadcast nightly at 19h00 (CAT).

Opening this year’s online 23rd JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience is Professor Jay Pather who has been selected as the “Legacy Artist” for this year’s festival. Pather presents Undertow a reflective programme that features excerpts from his work with Siwela Sonke Dance Theatre from the 1990s to present day. The work will reflect both a legacy, but also contested meanings related to “legacy” through Pather’s careful curation that reflects the past in the present.

Through the Lens features the work of award winning resident JOMBA! photographer Val Adamson. For this online exhibition, a collection of 100 images that illustrates the connection between Adamson’s evocative and living dance photography and Pather’s dance will feature.

South African Crossings offers three dance programmes including Garage Dance Ensemble (O’okiep, South Africa), Cape Town dancer and choreographer Yaseen Manuel in collaboration with Durban’s Flatfoot Dance Company and two works which are presented by Vrystaat Kunste Vees and New Dance by Sizakhele Mdi and Sylvester Tamsanqa Majela.

Four African choreographers present dance films as part of the African Crossings platform. Marcel Gbeffa, Gaby Saranouffi, Robert Ssempijja and Bernardo ‘Pak’ Guiamba share the platform that speaks to the diversity of African experiences in the contemporary world. The European and American crossings features the historic New York-based Limón Dance Company and from UK the Birmingham-based ACE Music and Dance with their essence of Flamenco, Kathak, Martial Arts and ACE’s inimitable Afro-fusion style. Also included are the hannahma dance company from Germany, Cullberg from Sweden and Aïda Colmenero Dïaz from Spain.

The Indian Crossings is presented by the Pickle Factory Foundation and offers a curated series of dance films made by Indian artists that reflect Indian identities, histories and cultures. Curators Vikram Iyengar and Kunal Chakraborty have titled the series I m / Material. 

The JOMBA! Durban Digital Edge is a commissioned platform that will feature six dance makers based in Durban who are beginning to make waves on the local dance scene. Sabelo Cele, Sinethemba Khuzwayo, Cameron S Govender, Aphelele Nyawose, Thobile Maphanga and Nqubeko Ngema all share the platform this year, and have each created work that responds to the festival’s “border crossings” provocation.

JOMBA! Conversations That Cross Borders will feature four live conversations with festival Artistic Director and Curator Dr Lliane Loots in conversation with Jay Pather, Alfred Hinkel (SA), Hannah Ma (Germany), and Vikram Iyengar and Kunal Chakraborty (India) of the Pickle Factory Dance Foundation.

Forging Alliances is an industry support programme organized by Thobile Maphanga, it aims to provide dance makers with industry specific information and includes a panel on social media.

The 2021 JOMBA! Open Horizons platforms provide an opportunity for dance makers to present their dance film work. Adjudicators David April, Tracey Saunders, Clare Craighead and Shanelle Jewnarain have assessed the 30 submissions from across Africa, for the festival a selection of these  will be screened.

All of this is packed into the 13  day online festival, which runs from August 24 to September 5 and can be navigated free of charge via the website or subscribe to the JOMBA YouTube channel here:

A full programme is available via the website. - Thembelani Bhengu (UKZN Resident Writer, 2021)