By Kwazi Ngubane
Published August 8, 2013
The University of KwaZulu-Natalâ€™s arts gateway to Africa and the world, the Centre for Creative Arts, is proud to be presenting its 15th annual Jomba! Contemporary Dance Experience. This yearâ€™s festival is a delight of local and international dance theatre that has on show the best the world has to offer. Dancers from Holland, Switzerland, United States of America, Portugal and France will be gracing the JOMBA! stages alongside some of South Africaâ€™s most cutting edge dance makers.
On the local front, Jomba! is very proud to be hosting the 2013 Standard Bank Young Artist award winner for dance, Fana Tshabalala. His new work, Indumba, premiered at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown to critical acclaim. Working with his home dance company, Johannesburg-based Forgotten Angle Theatre Collaborative, Tshabalalaâ€™s dance work is poetic encounter with African ritual and contemporary sensibility. Considered one of South Africaâ€™s most fluid and elegant dancers, Tshabalalaâ€™s vision is a startling reminder of the confluence of style, form and African sensibility.
One of the gems of this yearsâ€™ festival is the collaboration between local Durban-based dancer and choreographer DesirÃ© Davids who joins forces with France-based HÃ©lÃ¨ne Cathala in a soulful duet called B.L.E.N.D. These two experienced women , one â€˜colouredâ€™ and South African, the other white and French, share the stage in a confrontation of their divergent histories. This drives them to really get to know each other but also, sometimes, drives them both into a void of personal and artistic incomprehension.
On the international front, this 15th edition of Jomba! has a number for firsts! This will be the first edition of Jomba! to host an American company, and in partnership with the Consulate of the USA in Durban and the USA Department of Stateâ€™s Arts Envoy Programme, Jomba! is delighted to be hosting the Chicago-based company Deeply Rooted Dance Theatre. Deeply Rooted will spend two weeks in Durban and will be part of Jomba!â€™s extended dance education and development programme run in conjunction with Flatfoot Dance Company. Deeply Rooted will travel to Flatfootâ€™s numerous dance programmes run in Umlazi, KwaMashu and Tugela Mouth. Over the two weeks, Deeply Rooted will share their dance skills and philosophy with more than 600 KZN young dancers in an enriching cultural exchange.
Deeply Rootedâ€™s invitation to Jomba! will culminate in two stellar performances on the closing nights of the festival on September 7-8, 2013. In a style that oozes memory, and the jazz history of the African American experience, Deeply Rooted, will present choreography that thread together some of their key signature dance works. Their partnership with Flatfoot Dance Company for Jomba! will also see the six resident dancers of Flatfoot joining Deeply Rooted in their performances after having spent two glorious weeks learning their repertoire and sharing styles and working methods.
Another first for Jomba! 2013, and yet another coup de grace of the festival, and an unprecedented treat for ballet and neo-classical dance lovers, is the featuring of Hollandâ€™s magnificent Introdans. World-renowned for skill and virtuosity, Introdans bring a programme suitably titled â€œSuperstarsâ€ which features five choreographies by five of Holland and Europeâ€™s most influential dance makers in the form of Anaphase by Ohad Naharin, Evening Songs by JirÃ KyliÃ¡n, Nacho Duatoâ€™sSinfonÃa India, Pas de Danse by Mats Ek and Polish Pieces by the Dutch Maestro Hans van Manen. Introdansâ€™s reputation precedes them and Durban should be fighting to get tickets!
Europeâ€™s finest come to Jomba! in the form of firstly, Portuguese dancer Francisco Camacho and his EIRA dance company.
Camacho, performing on the opening night of Jomba!, brings a hard-hitting solo dance theatre work called â€œThe King In Exileâ€.
Drawing its inspiration from the figure of Dom Manuel II, the last King of Portugal, this solo work is an exploration of contemporary political power that will no doubt speak to Africa. In this solo work, Camacho explores the transgressive power of the dancing bodyâ€™s ability to shift identities that are captured in the traps of history and representation. This work is sure to be one of Jomba! 2013â€™s most contentious talking points.
Secondly, European finery comes in the form of Swiss duo T42. Made up dancers Misato Inoue and FÃ©lix DumÃ©ril, their dance work is a confrontation with a difference and the old ideas that European identity is singular. Misatoâ€™s own Japanese roots become the starting point of much of T42â€™s work and is the witty and sometimes ironic danced encounter between cultural misunderstanding. Known for their technical virtuosity and dexterity as contemporary dancers, T42â€™s work has been singled out for its humour and for allowing space for laughter in battling the misunderstandings between the East and the West.
Another first for Jomba! 2013, is an event collaboration with Durbanâ€™s artSPACE Gallery. Monday, September 2, 2013 is a one off evening of site-specific dance work made for an audience who would like an up-close and personal encounter with dance.
Featuring Musa Hlatshwayo and Vusi Makanyaâ€™s latest local dance offerings, the evening also features a specificially created solo by T42â€™s Swiss dancer Misato Inoue. Called â€œSwanâ€, this work hints at Misatoâ€™s Japanese Kabuki roots and is a very contemporary encounter with the duel nature of being; the harking back to Swan Lakeâ€™s infamous black and white swans and to a female body caught in oppositions. Also on view at the Jomba! @ artSPACE event is a collection of award-winning one- minute dance films from all over the globe curated by Jeannette Ginslovâ€™s ScreenDance Africa.
Jomba! hosts its usual platforms of the Fringe (Sunday, September 1) and the Youth Fringe (Saturday, August 31). With more than 60 entries for a coveted place in this yearâ€™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 Wiggins Community Hall in Cato Manor/Umkhumbane and is a celebration of more than 28 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 all of the participating dancers and choreographers.
For a full listing please go to go to the Jomba! page on the cca.ukzn.ac.za website. These workshops and classes are offered free of charge but booking is essential!
Finally, in promoting critical arts dialogue and writing about dance and the arts, Jomba! runs its 4th year of the Dance Writing Residency. Six applicants have been selected and will be mentored through the festival as they create critical writing for both the Jomba! blog and for the Jomba! Khaluma festival newspaper.
Jombaâ€™s artistic director, Lliane Loots, will also host the anticipated â€œJomba! Talks Danceâ€ platforms with the various dancers and choreographers presenting work at Jomba! These will be held directly after performances.