By CityLife Arts Writer
Nine dance-makers and companies from the USA, Africa and Europe, will feature in the Legacy (celebrating 21 years of JOMBA!) section of the JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience, presented by the Centre for Creative Arts, University of KwaZulu-Natal, as a free online event from 25 August to 6 September 2020.
“These dance-makers have contributed to the success of the festival, by bringing their work to Durban, and sharing their techniques and dance-making skills in performances, workshops, interviews and conversations with hundreds of South African dance-makers over the years,” says Lliane Loots, Artistic Director of JOMBA!. “We welcome these extraordinary iconic creative artists onto the digital stage to share work in a celebration of what has come before and what has shaped a lot of our contemporary dance space in South Africa.”
Hailing from Durban’s sister cities in the USA are two dance companies that have left lasting impressions on dancers and audiences on their visits to the country: Deeply Rooted Dance Theater from Chicago and Leslie Scott’s New Orleans BODYART Dance Company; both come to the virtual space with the kind support from the US Consulate in Durban.
Deeply Rooted Dance Theater, under the artistic direction of Nicole Clarke-Springer, re-imagines and diversifies the aesthetics of contemporary dance by uniting modern, classical, American, and African-American traditions in dance and storytelling. They have a long history with JOMBA! and have facilitated many exchanges and collaborations between South African artists and their home base in Chicago. Three of their works will be screened and these works also celebrate an on-going relationship with artists from Durban and South Africa.
Leslie Scott and BODYART Dance Company, which performed at last year’s JOMBA! to much acclaim, will present a series of their unique site-specific works created for stage and for film. As a choreographer, working in both traditional and non-traditional spaces, Scott’s work has been performed in notable venues and sites from LA, NYC, Dallas, St Louis, New Orleans, Houston, Edinburgh, New Zealand and Durban, South Africa.
From The Netherlands comes frequent guests at JOMBA! INTRODANS with theirneo-classical approach to ballet: one that’s creative and surprising. They offer dance work that is dynamic, dazzling and gravity-defying – they captivate in a total dance experience. They perform four works for the festival with a focus on the technologically intriguing work of David Middendorp.
Nigerian dancer and choreographer Adedayo Liadi and Ijodee Dance Company will revisit Aye Asan (Vanity) which premiered at JOMBA! In 2011 together with Durban’s Flatfoot Dance Company. This dance piece is about the good, the bad, and the ugly in all of us – and the choices we make along the way. Ijodee works on supporting the socio-cultural and economic development of Nigeria using dance as a medium of communication.
From the city of Chennai in India comes Anita Ratnam, described as an “intersectionist”, whose work weaves the many disciplines of dance, theatre, spoken word, ritual, archaeology, dramaturgy and women’s issues. Her main area of focus is in the re-interpretation of traditional tropes from myth and legend using a feminist lens. She performs two works: Stone … once again a work which tells the story ofshunned woman who represents the many facets of her gender through centuries of misinterpretation and misogyny; and excerpts from Ma3Ka about the Mother Trinity Supreme.
Staying with strong women in dance, Senegalese dance-maker Germaine Acogny, considered ‘the mother of contemporary dance in Africa’, a will perform a 2017 work Somewhere at the Beginning. Acogny has created her own technique of Modern African Dance, and with her husband Helmut Vogt, she founded the ECOLE DES SABLES in Senegal, an International Centre for traditional and contemporary African Dances. Acogny’s solo is a soulful journey into being black, African and female and is not to be missed.
Internationally-acclaimed Musa Hlatshwayo and Mhayise Productions performs Abomhlaba(Thi) which premiered in 2019. This is a full-length dance theatre piece inspired by Credo Mutwa’s stories around the creation of abantu, the earth, land and landless, the displacement of black bodies and their continuous search for belonging in a land torn by political borders and boundaries.
South Africa’s Gregory Maqoma and Vuyani Dance Theatre perform Exit/Exist choreographed by Maqoma which premiered at Dance Umbrella 2012. In this work Maqoma returns to his ancestral past to re-interpret the complexities of our contemporary world. The narrative centres around the great Xhosa chief and warrior, Maqoma, who, in the late 1800s, clashed with the English over cattle and land and finally met his death on Robben Island.
Award-winning and internationally-renowned South African choreographer Robyn Orlin, now based in Germany, presents Beauty remained for just a moment then returned gently to her starting position….This is a work created by Orlin in 2012 withMoving Into Dance Mophatong dancers which draws on Orlin’s iconic performance-making style and on traditional South African storytelling, song and dance. Digital JOMBA! 2020 runs from 25 August to 6 September off the website, jomba.ukzn.ac.za. All platforms for 2020 are free of charge and a full programme is available via the website.