By CityLife Arts Writer
This year, the JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience presented by the Centre for Creative Arts (UKZN) celebrates its 25th anniversary, offering dance fans a 13-day treat of world-class contemporary dance that will see both local and international dance makers converge on Durban from 29 August to 10 September.
Alongside the very best that South Africa has to offer JOMBA! will feature international guests from Mozambique, Switzerland, Netherlands, Madagascar, Uganda, Romania, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Brazil. This 25th edition offers not only a powerhouse of performances but workshops, residencies, talks, panel discussions, and virtual screen dance.
The theme for this year is “(in)tangible heritages”. Curator and Artistic Director, Dr Lliane Loots elaborates: “In curating this year’s festival, we have invited dance makers to reimagine their – and our – relationship with ideas of belonging and our varying (in)tangible heritages. The 25th JOMBA! is honouring artists who, through their work and their moving bodies, generate a new sense of belonging that questions who we are at this critical moment in our history”.
Mozambique’s award-winning dancer/choreographer Pak Ndjamena presents his arresting solo work, DEUS NOS ACUDI / GOD HELPS US,that interrogates contemporary African male identity and pulls no punches in its message.
Two dance companies from Germany will feature: Hannah Ma’s hannahmadance performs a work that links with South African performers Thobi Maphanga and Jabu Siphika. INVASION(S) analyses the act of invasion as the act of violently entering a (political, physical, biological) territory from a feminist, and post-migrant perspective. Helge Letonja and his company Of Curious Nature – made up of artists from all over the world presents UN-ZEIT whichcreates hypnotic images where the perception of time seems to fray and dancing bodies search for support.
With support from the Finnish Embassy (Pretoria), Virva Talonen presents a work in collaboration with Durban’s FLATFOOT DANCE COMPANY. Her Portable Home Project is a contemporary dance performance series that delves into a concept of home and its various definitions. The Portable Home Project is co-created by Finnish Lighting Designer Nanni Vapaavuori.
Birmingham (UK) based ACE dance and music features in a spectacular double bill – UNKNOWN REALMS – with choreography by Burkina Faso’s Serge Aimé Coulibaly and South Africa’s Vincent Sekwati Mantsoe. Coulibaly’s THE NIGHT BEFORE TOMORROW is a metaphorical night where people try to do their last dance before an uncertain tomorrow. Mantsoe’s MANA – THE POWER WITHIN engages the sacred, ritualistic and shamanic.
JOMBA! partners again with Rerouting Arts at St Anne’s (Hilton) and the KZNSA Gallery (Durban) to share a collaboration between Romania and Madagascar. Ramanenjana is a docufiction performance about a dance that made history. The work examines dance’s societal role and how colonialism spread misconceptions about this extraordinary moment in history.
JOMBA! continues to open up access to work that makes visible intersections around dance and disability. JOMBA! 2023 DANCEABILITY FOCUSfeatures dance-makers who are shifting global perceptions around disability: Joseph Tebandeke (Uganda), Unmute Dance Theatre (Cape Town, South Africa), and an inclusive programme from Introdans (Netherlands).
In partnership with ASSITEJ, JOMBA! offers the new JOMBA! FOR YOUTH FOCUSaimed at younger audiences, to help grow youth audiences for dance.
Artists from Switzerland and the Netherlands feature in a new JOMBA! programme that travels to schools and also offers public performances. Switzerland’s Joshua Monten, brings a delightful engrossing work called GAME THEORY that will travel to two schools. This work looks at some of the building blocks of play: freedom and rules. Dutch Dance company de Stilte, focuses on developing productions and performing for children. They bring FLYING COW choreographed by Jack Timmermans which is the story of two girls and a boy who embark on a stand-off, flying on the wings of their imagination.
Other features of the 25th Anniversary festival include two major South African works, the JOMBA! Youth Open Horizons, JOMBA! ON THE EDGE, after performance talks, an engaging dialogue with dance-makers, 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 or R50 (students, scholars, pensioners) or R350 – once off FULL festival pass to see everything. Booking is through COMPUTICKET.