Steering and Editorial Committee 2023

The JOMBA! MASIHAMBISANE DIALOGUES steering and editorial committee for 2023 are:

  1. Clare Craighead – Durban University of Technology (SA)
  2. David Thatanelo April – University of Pretoria (SA)
  3. Gift Marovatsanga – University of Zululand (SA)
  4. Lliane Loots – University of KwaZulu-Natal CCA (SA) [chair and organiser]
  5. Mbongeni Mtshali – University of Cape Town (SA)
  6. Sarahleigh Castelyn – University of East London (UK)
  7. Thobile Maphanga – Centre for Creative Arts (UKZN – SA) [postrgraduate student representative and colloquium administrator]
  8. Yvette Hutchison – Warwick University (UK) [co-chair and organiser for 2023] 


Steering Committee - Clare Craighead

Clare Craighead is a lecturer in the Drama and Production Studies Department at the Durban University of Technology.  She has an MA, summa cum laude, from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, and is currently registered for her PhD in Drama and Performance Studies, through UKZN.  She is company manager to Durban’s FLATFOOT DANCE COMPANY and facilitates the JOMBA! Khuluma writing residency as part of the JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience.  She also recently joined the Co|lab collective, a UAE-Based performing arts company with strong links to its South African roots that have already resulted in the JOMBA! Khuluma residency making its Dubai debut in 2021. 

Steering Committee - David April

David Thatanelo April is a director, teacher, choreographer, and lobbyist in the realm of South African dance and performance.  With over two decades of experience in the Creative and Cultural industries he has filled a diverse collection of roles and imparts his longstanding knowledge of the performing arts as a dedicated mentor and advisor to arts practitioners and internationally acclaimed choreographers. April became the first recipient of the prestigious Tunkie Memorial Award for “Outstanding Dedication and Leadership in Dance” (2003). He’s received the “Management and Leadership in Cultural Economy” award from Wits School of Arts in Partnership with Business Arts South Africa. He is a graduate of Moving into Dance’s Community Dance Teachers Training Course, completed a BA at the University of South Africa and is skilled and qualified in Marketing, Entrepreneurship and Arts Management from institutions such as Raizcorp and IMM Graduate School of Marketing. He completed an MA in Cultural Policy and Management at Wits University and is currently employed at the University of Pretoria’s School of the Arts involved in Production Logistics alongside lecturing Arts Administration & Management as well as Movement Studies.

Steering Committee - Gift Marovatsanga

Gift Marovatsanga, a University of Zululand, Drama and Theatre Studies Lecturer, is a multi-disciplinary performing artist who has a passion for telling stories on and off stage. Gift teaches the theory and practice of various drama and theatre courses including Acting for the Stage and Film, Script and Screen Writing, Applied Drama and Theatre, and Directing. When not teaching, Gift writes and directs, mostly for the theatre. Gift writes and performs short stories and poetry, and he mentors a few young poets, actors and directors. Some of Gift’s productions include Hidden Closet, (NAF 2012),The Embrace (DFL Festival 2014), Vuka Africa (Unizulu 2015), Faces (2015-2019) and To The CEO (UniZulu 2016). As a researcher Gift is interested in participatory action research and in themes around masculinity, gender relations, relationships and power.  

Steering Committee - Lliane Loots

Lliane Loots founded FLATFOOT DANCE COMPANY as a professional dance company in 2003 when it grew out of a dance training programme that originally began in 1994. As the artistic director and resident choreographer for FLATFOOT DANCE COMPANY, she has won numerous national choreographic awards and has travelled extensively in Europe, America and within the African continent with her dance work.  In 1991, she ‘birthed’ the JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience within the Centre for Creative Arts and continues as its Artistic Director and curator under the direction of Dr. Ismail Mahomed. Loots also holds the positions of Lecturer in the Drama and Performance Studies Programme at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (Durban). She completed her PhD in 2018 looking at contemporary dance/performance histories on the African continent. Loots was awarded the Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres (Knight in the Order of Arts and Letters) by the French government in 2017 for her work (both artistic and curatorial) in the South African dance sector. Her current collaborative research project with Dr Yvette Hutchison will trace the relationship between disability dance and citizenship in Africa. 

Steering Committee - Mbongeni N Mtshali

Mbongeni N. Mtshali is a multidisciplinary performance practitioner, educator and scholar. He holds a PhD in Performance Studies from Northwestern University, where he was a Fulbright Scholar. Mtshali works across a range of performance disciplines, including dance, animation and puppetry, live-art and site-specific performance installation among others. Recent professional recognitions include The Standard Bank Silver Ovation Award and the Fleur du Cap Theatre Awards for his achievements in directing and performance-making. Mtshali’s primary research interests, which animate both his practical and theoretical enquiries, are in black queer/black femme performance in South Africa as well as Africa and its diaspora more broadly. He is particularly interested in how the unruly aesthetics of black queer/black femme performance challenge nationally sanctioned performance repertoires and the frameworks of African respectability, cultural intelligibility, and ethnonational belonging in which they are vested. He has more recently turned to thinking about queer genealogies of African decolonial world-making in the Caribbean, South Atlantic and Indian Ocean.  

Steering Committee - Sarahleigh Castelyn

Sarahleigh Castelyn is a performer, choreographer, and researcher: a dance nerd. She is an Associate Professor/ Reader in Performing Arts in the School of Arts and Creative Industries at the University of East London (U.K.). Her dance research focuses on race, gender, sexuality, and nation in apartheid and post-apartheid South Africa, the politics of hybridity, and the use of practice as a research methodology. She has performed in and choreographed dance works, for example at JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Festival (SA) and Queen Mary (UK) She serves on several editorial and organisation boards, such as Research in Dance Education and HOTFOOT. She has published on dance and South Africa, for instance in Viral Dramaturgies (2018) and Narratives in Black British Dance (2018), and in journals such as The African Performance Review, Dance Theatre Journal, Animated, African Performance Review, and The South African Theatre Journal.

Steering Committee - Thobile Maphanga

Thobile Maphanga is a Durban-based movement practitioner, scholar and writer currently reading for her Master’s in Performance Studies at the University of KwaZulu Natal.  Her preoccupation is with Black female narratives and how Black women are writing themselves into history now. Her dance career has spanned two decades, working with various South African Companies and choreographers.  She has collaborated with local and international artists to produce independent work and was a co-founder of The Rickshaw Collective.  She currently sits on the Flatfoot Dance Company board, is a curatorial mentee for JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience under the mentorship of Artistic Director Dr. Lliane Loots and holds a position on the JOMBA! Masihambisane Dialogues steering committee.   Her dance writing has featured in the JOMBA! Khuluma, UK’s Hotfoot Online and the USA’s In Dance Magazine. 

Steering Committee - Yvette Hutchinson

Yvette Hutchison is South African Reader/ Associate Professor in Theatre & Performance Studies at the University of Warwick, UK. Her research focuses on Anglophone African theatre, history and narratives of memory, and how intercultural performance practices are challenged by ongoing postcolonial issues. She is associate editor of the South African Theatre Journal and the African Theatre series. Her Leverhulme project Performing Memory: Theatricalising identity in contemporary South Africa in 2012, culminated in her monograph South African Performance and Archives of Memory (Manchester University press, 2013). From 2015-17 she had AHRC funding to develop mobile app technology to create a virtual network of African women creative practitioners and other interested parties, the African Womens’ Playwright Network (AWPN). Her latest publications include the co-edited African Theatre: Contemporary Dance (James Currey, 2018), and Contemporary Plays by African Women (Methuen, 2019). Her current collaborative project with Dr Lliane Loots of FLATFOOT DANCE COMPANY will trace the relationship between disability dance and citizenship in Africa.