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Sunday, August 6, 2023



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(Above: A scene from “Hatched Ensemble” by Mamela Nyamza)

South African Artists announced for 25th JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience

Siwela Sonke Dance Theatre and Mamela Nyamza are amongst the South African line-up for the 25th JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience hosted by the Centre for Creative Arts (UKZN) from August 29 to September 10, 2023, at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre and other venues.

“(in)tangible heritages” is this year’s theme, and JOMBA! honours South African choreographer and dancer Mamela Nyamza as the 2023 JOMBA! Legacy Artist. Nyamza’s cutting edge and deeply interrogated dance work spans over two decades of dance making in South Africa and internationally.

“JOMBA! celebrates Mamela for her vison and practice, and for significantly contributing to our countries’ rich critical contemporary dance history and legacy,” says curator and artistic director, Dr Lliane Loots. “JOMBA! is proud to celebrate her as one of South Africa’s most important dance voices – and to celebrate her very tangible heritage in the lexicon of African dance making.”

Mamela Nyamza opens the festival at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre (UKZN) on Tuesday August 29 with Hatched Ensemble (see above), a work that references her original 2007 solo Hatched. Originally Hatched offered an autobiographical work that reflected on Nyamza’s life as a mother and artist. Hatched Ensemble builds on this almost 16 years later, in a new work that is now performed by nine ballet trained dancers from different racial and gendered backgrounds. Challenging issues of tradition, gender norms within the dance classics, and various issues around identity and belonging, Hatched Ensemble references both classical Western music and dance, with traditional African vocal scores.

The inimitable Jay Pather (JOMBA! 2021 Legacy Artist) and Siwela Sonke Dance Theatre return to JOMBA! with a new work surface tension. The work is an interdisciplinary site responsive choreography that considers surface – layers of topographic maps, skin, hair, metal, cloth - as prompt to re-find the body. The performers invoke, the desire to surface, defying and confronting the absurdities, blind spots, and brutality of contemporary politics.   They will perform this site-specific work, that is both confrontational and deeply beautiful at the Jubilee Hall at UKZN on Saturday, September 2 at 19h00 (limited seating).

(Above: “Mana – the Power within”. Master Mana Image, Credit Brian Slater)

Vincent Sekwati Mantsoe (JOMBA! 2022 Legacy Artist) and Gail Parmel’s choreography Mana- The Power Within will be performed by Birmingham (UK) company ACE dance and music, as part of a double bill programme titled Unknown Realms. The work is described as: “Sacred, ritualistic and shamanic, the word ‘Mana’ is used in over 24 countries; it is universal; we can all feel it when people and things possess this power. Tracing the journey of past lives, this physical work unifies beliefs & cultures - it’s the ultimate life force, the stuff of which magic is made.” Unknown Realms also features KwaMashu-born, FLATFOOT dancer Mthoko Mkhwanazi who is currently on a year-long residency with ACE dance and music. Mana – The Power Within can be seen at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre on Saturday September 9 at 19h30 and Sunday September 10 at 14h30.

Other South African performers and choreographers in this year’s festival include Thobile Maphanga and Jabu Siphika working with German company hannahmadance, FLATFOOT DANCE COMPANY collaborating with Finnish choreographer Virva Talonen, Unmute Dance Theatre and KZN featured JOMBA! ON THE EDGE grant recipients Marcia Mzindle and Lorin Sookool.

(Left:  Lorin Sookool)

The JOMBA! 25th anniversary festival includes a host of international guests, the JOMBA! Youth Open Horizons, after performance talks, the Forging Futures dialogue a conversation that opens dancing borders for local artists with the Netherlands the launch of the 25th -anniversary book, a series of free workshops and masterclasses, a lighting workshop, a screen dance residency, a dance writers’ residency, and a smaller curated festival at The Market Theatre in Johannesburg.

Tickets are R80 (R50 students, scholars, pensioners) or R350 – once off FULL festival pass to see everything. Booking through Computicket

For more information go to

NB: For more information on the Centre for Creative Arts, click on the logo advert to the right of this article.