The free online 22nd JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience, presented by the Centre for Creative Arts, University of KwaZulu-Natal, has a packed programme of 10 USA dance films and 22 dance works including some created during COVID-19 lockdown. Nine of these were commissioned through grants to Durban and Pietermaritzburg dance-makers for a platform called JOMBA! Digital Edge which will open the festival on 25 August at 7pm, and be available online for the duration of the festival.
The JOMBA! Digital Edge has provided grants to these nine KwaZulu-Natal dance-makers who continue to make waves on the local dance scene. They were asked to create short dance films loosely around the theme of “Intimacies of Isolation”.
Dance-works in this line-up have been created by Durban dancers Jabu Siphika, Kristi-Leigh Gresse, Leagan Peffer, Nomcebisi Moyikwa, Sandile Mkhize, Sifiso Kitsona Khumalo, Tshediso Kabulu, and Zinhle Nzama, and from Pietermaritzburg, Tegan Peacock.
Flatfoot Dance Company’s Jabu Siphika’s solo piece Ya kutosha, is an intimate and terrifying exploration of gender-based violence and what it means to be trapped in the home.
Another solo work Fellow… created by award-winning and edgy dance-maker Kristi-Leigh Gresse explores an artist’s state of mind in isolation. It is a journey through this maze in search of light.
Durban’s neo-classical wonder-girl Leagn Peffer’s Kairos, is a personal journey in a solo that delves into the confluence of passion and purpose. In love, in anger, in deceit, in loss as in failure, this work interrogates how life allows us to face struggle.
Nomcebisi Moyikwa whose work, U n g a n y a k u m , which is an experimental multidisciplinary “contemplation; a devotion and a prayer decomposed, says (this work) “is an engagement with silence – demonstrated by blank spaces. It is an intentioned meditation that seeks evidence for this question: What does it mean to insist not to die?”
One of Durban’s hidden dance gems is Sandile Mkhize (Phakama Dance Company) who seeks “history, forefathers, revolution, and ways of being under COVID-19 and “our humanity” in his work Time performed by himself and Cue Ngema
Walls is a deeply intimate exploration of a father-daughter relationship set against the separation imposed by COVID-19 and the lockdown has been created and performed by Sifiso Kitsona Khumalo (Flatfoot Dance Company) and his daughter, Lethiwe Zamantungwa Nzama. Lethiwe has been a regular at many JOMBA! Youth Fringes and makes her professional debut in this work.
Pietermaritzburg dance stalwart, Tegan Peacock has created a short film called Control – Alt – Delete which offers an intimate insight into the struggle with control or the loss of it. “Both internally and externally our lives have been radically altered and everyone is fighting to regain control and find a new normality,” she says. For this piece she has collaborated with artist Jono Hornby.
Dynamic dancer and choreographer, Tshediso Kabulu has created a work called Space of Colour which is an unflinching look at race and its intersection with class and poverty, and the uneven distribution of power and resources in South Africa; set against the backdrop of isolation and the COVID pandemic. This work is performed by Kabulu and Motlatsi Khotle with poetry by Khwezi Becker and music by Anelisa Stuurman.
Finally, Zinhle Nzama (Flatfoot Dance Company) performing with Kirsty Ndawo offers Shadow which looks at friendship and the validations of having someone there for you always, even when you cannot hold hands in a world that now asks for distancing.
“We cannot wait to share these new commissioned works with dance-lovers and dance-makers from across the globe,” say Artistic Director Lliane Loots. “It has been a difficult time for human beings on this planet. Artists have been deeply affected, but there is one constant, and this is that even in times of struggle and extreme hardship, artists are able make, create and share their most intimate stories, and nothing can keep us from this.”
Recently appointed Director of the Centre for Creative Arts, Ismail Mohamed will welcome the audience, and Artistic Director, Lliane Loots will give an address prior to the streaming of the Digital Edge films on Tuesday, 25 August at 7pm (GMT +2).
The festival runs from 25 August until 6 September off the website jomba.ukzn.ac.za. The programme is streamed at 7pm (GMT +2) each evening. From August 27 there will be repeats each day at 12 noon (GMT +2) of the previous evening’s programme. All platforms for 2020 are free of charge and a full programme is available via the website.
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