With principal support from the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund the Centre for Creative Arts (University of KwaZulu-Natal) presents the 14th edition of its celebrated annual contemporary dance platform, the JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience between 29th August and 9th September. This year’s festival invites dance lovers and the public to explore the packed 12 days of exceptional performances, workshops led by leading choreographers, and opportunities to engage some of the world’s top dance makers as they “Talk Dance” after various performances. JOMBA! fiercely holds onto its status as one of the few remaining dedicated spaces in South Africa where dance and choreography remain nurtured and supported, and continues to offer world class dance theatre that challenges audiences; asking that they come to the myriad festival offerings (performances, workshops and classes) with the intention to be shocked, surprised, entertained and above all, to celebrate a beautiful and critical art form.
As part of the France South Africa Seasons 2012-2013 exchange JOMBA! plays host to a large contingent of French and Reunion Island dance companies and artists. From France comes the renowned Michel Kelemenis offering special dance theatre for young (and young at heart!) audiences. His “Henriette & Matisse” is a visually breathtaking work that dives into the art work of French painter Henri Matisse. Line and colour clash on stage in a dance work that is sure to delight audiences of all ages.
JOMBA! continues its rich collaborations between numerous South African artists and their Reunion Island colleagues. This includes the welcome return of Theatre Taliipot who two years ago brought Durban to their feet in their bold dance work “Mâ Ravan”. For JOMBA! 2012 they present a collaboration with South African dancers that looks into San culture. Titled “!AÏA From cave to sky” this stunning and highly visual dance work creates a dialogue about our origins, about life and the tenuous relationship between human beings and nature.
Johannesburg’s PJ Sabbagha and his Forgotten Angle Theatre Collaborative join forces with Reunion Island’s Eric Languet, in a meeting between dancers and choreographic styles that is sure to be a talking point of JOMBA! Entitled “somewhere, out there, life was screaming” their piece is an existential journey into the nature of modern life, and whose use of lights and animation will certainly set precedents for choreographers to come! Besides its two performances at Jomba, “Somewhere, out there, life was screaming” will also be staged in Johannesburg at the Wits Theatre as part of the Drama for Life Festival from 22 to 25 August.
Perhaps most unique for this year’s JOMBA! is a four-way collaboration between Dutch choreographer Jens van Daele, Durban’s much loved Flatfoot Dance Company and the musical ensemble Batida, that features both Swiss and French musicians. In a thrilling and very contemporary version of Stravinsky’s 1913 “Le Sacre du Printemps”, this opening night collaboration will blow audiences away with sheer force and power. Van Daele has titled his versions of “Sacre”, “A spring (two) matter” and while it honours our collective memory as dancers and musicians over the past hundred years with this music (and its rich dance history), it also tells of the struggle of positive and negative human beings in their struggle in thinking and acting. Maybe the old narrative of sacrifice to allow Spring to come, takes a deeper more internal contemporary meaning in Van Daele’s version?
Providing a prominent space for local South African artists is paramount to the vision of JOMBA! and this year two of the country’s foremost dance makers in the form of Vincent Mantsoe and Jay Pather have been invited. Both return to Durban to showcase visions of dance that have seen them win numerous local and international awards. South Africa’s iconic Vincent Mantsoe premieres a new solo work called “skwatta” – an emotive journey dealing with poverty and informal settlements in South Africa. Mantsoe’s style of moving and creating has earned him a reputation as one of the world’s most eminent contemporary African dance makers.
Siwela Sonke Dance Theatre’s Jay Pather fuses text, video, installation and dance in a manner that gets audiences to look at themselves and the very nature of dance performance in different ways. Never shy of challenging an audience with his visually engaging dance work, Pather offers “Caesar, interrupted” where we see a dancer waiting to perform the role of Brutus in “Qaphela Caesar”, a production based on Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. As it begins to emerge that the original production is not going to happen, the original themes of masculinities, betrayal and unrequited ambitions bleed in and out of reality. The work becomes a meditation on suspension, inertia and deflation.
JOMBA!’s much prized ‘New Works Grant” has been awarded, for 2012, to Durban’s Musa Hlatshwayo. Celebrated for his insightful intersection of both rural and urban stories, Hlatshwayo’s dance work looks to be another highlight of this year’s festival. Titled, “ABA(KA)NTU”, it is the third and final work of Hlatshwayo’s two year trilogy that seeks to study issues around Nguni identity. This last piece of the trilogy (also a work that can stand alone) seeks a possible definition of what being ‘umuntuongumnguni’ (a Nguni person) means nowadays from a perspective informed by renowned historians such as Credo Mutwa.
JOMBA City on the beachfront
JOMBA! continues its collaboration with eThekwini Municipality to offer its second one-night only outdoor dance extravaganza JOMBA! City; this year at Beachfront Skate Park (next to Mini-town), JOMBA! City is curated by David Gouldie whose vision of opening up new spaces for dance, is explored in this glorious site-specific party on Friday 31 August starting at 6pm. Celebrating Durban’s beach front, surf, sea, skate-park, and the night of a full moon; come and listen to the sound of a cello against the rip of the wave, pick up a hip-hop beat as dancers move to the ancient rhythms of the tides. Breakdancers shift between light and video while a kathak storyteller spins into madness. JOMBA City features performances from (amongst others), BLK JKS, Fruits & Veggies, BBoyz 031 Floor Assassins, Steel Band Foundation, 2012 Playhouse dance residency dancers, Sifiso Majola working with ‘Flatfoot Training Youth Company’ and a very special collaboration between the musical madness (and genius) of Reunion Island group Lindigo and the energy of South African dancers, Via Katlehong which come come together in the delightful “UMQOMBOTI KABAR. JOMBA! City is a hip and happening, family friendly night of dance and music magic making creative use of our beautiful beachfront environment!
The festival also comes with the popular FRINGE (Monday 3 September 7.30pm, Sneddon Theatre) and YOUTH FRINGE (Saturday 8 September at 2pm, Dorothy Nyembe Hall in Cato Manor/Umkhumbane). Both of these platforms open spaces to new dance makers, and always prove to be enlightening indicators of new emerging dance and choreographic talent. This year JOMBA! Fringe welcomes participation from Cape Town, Johannesburg, Pietermaritzburg and Durban.
Dance practitioners should not miss the series of free dance workshops with the leading choreographers Vincent Mantsoe, PJ Sabbagha, Philippe Pelan (of Theatre Taliipot) and Durban’s Musa Hlatshwayo. Participation is limited so advance booking is essential; call 031 – 260 2506.
Apart from JOMBA! City on the beachfront, and the Youth Fringe in Cato Manor, all performances take place at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre. Book at Computicket or at the theatre one hour before the show. Tickets are R50 (R35 for students and pensioners).
Organised by the Centre for Creative Arts (University of KwaZulu-Natal) the JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience is supported by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund (principal funder), HIVOS, City of Durban, France-South Africa Seasons 2012 & 2013 and the National Arts Council.