South African Online Contemporary Dance Conference Attracts Global Participation

Media Release

The Centre for Creative Arts and University of KwaZulu-Natal

South African Online Contemporary Dance Conference Attracts Global Participation

2 and 4 September 2023

Moving into Dance - Tranceformations 2003 Photo by John Hogg
Moving into Dance - Tranceformations 2003 Photo by John Hogg
The annual online South African contemporary dance conference JOMBA! MASIHAMBISANE DIALOGUES, hosted by the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Centre for Creative Arts’ JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience, taking place from 22 to 24 May, 2024, has attracted significant participation from around the globe.
This conference or academic colloquium, is now in its fourth edition and will feature dance-makers, academics, dancers, educators, and researchers from 11 countries including Brazil, Canada, Cape Verde, France, Germany, South Africa, UK, USA, and Zimbabwe. The theme or “provocation” this year is (RE)TURN TO THE DRUM? looking at contemporary dance’s engagements with traditions, cultures, memory, hybridity, and contested identities.
The conference which is free and open to all interested, features keynote addresses, panel discussions, as well as “abstracts or papers” presented by participants.  An opening keynote address will be made by steering committee member Dr Mbongeni Mtshali, a performance-maker, scholar, artist, and teacher based at the University of Cape Town,  in dialogue with the rest of the steering committee that includes dance-focussed academics, researchers, and practitioners: Clare Craighead (lecturer at the Durban University of Technology), David Thatanelo April (director, teacher, choreographer, and dance lobbyist), Gift Marovatsanga (CEO and Facilitator at Refined Images Studio), Dr Lliane Loots (lecturer at the University of KwaZulu-Natal), Dr Sarahleigh Castelyn (Associate Professor/Reader University of East London UK), Thobile Maphanga (dance practitioner, scholar, creative collaborator, reading for her MA at UKZN) and Prof Yvette Hutchison (South African Reader/Associate Professor at the University of Warwick UK).
Keynote dialogues will be held with Dada Masilo, South African dancer and choreographer, known for her unique and innovative interpretations of classical ballets; SA-born, now France-based Robyn Orlin an internationally celebrated contemporary dance-maker, dancer and teacher; Mamela Nyamza award-winning choreographer and dancer who is known globally for her innovative and deeply intersectional and political dance-making; Vincent Sekwati Mantsoe, winner of international and national awards in performance and choreography, demonstrates that to be successfully integrated into the performance arena as a contemporary artist, one does not have to disavow one’s cultural heritage; Moeketsi Koena professional dancer, teacher and choreographer, and co-founder of newly incorporated Itrotra Art X Connection – a newly registered arts platform.
Additionally, Canadian Dena Davida introduces TURBA, a new journal that negotiates histories of the study and practice of live arts curation, and Thobile Maphanga chairs a fascinating panel with Albert Ibokwe Khoza (South Africa), Djam Neguin (Cape Verde) and Lorin Sookool (South Africa) titled where they will interrogate a possible common zeitgeist that is calling these contemporary artists from Africa, to dig up ‘past’ narratives and re-present them in the bold ways that they are. 
Papers, digital engagements, and further dialogues open up important discussions around contemporary identity and how it relates to imagined and real histories as they intersect with culture and tradition in dance-making. The “(re)turn to the drum” is set up as both a question and as a tipping point to think about our futures.
Some of these  papers and engagements will be presented by: 
Alexandra Gonçalves Dias, dance artist and Professor at UFPEL in Brazil, with a dedicated focus on decolonising narratives;
Claude Jansen, part of Dancing Instruments – In Conversation with Looted oBjeCts – a long-term journey with a team of Namibian and German curators, healers, artists and (O)Ngoma Drums;
Fabrice Mazliah, a choreographer and performer/dancer based in Germany/Switzerland, who has initiated long-term research into embodied knowledge and the heritage inscribed into dance practitioners;
Francesca Matthys, a South African Interdisciplinary dance artist, writer, facilitator and Kundalini yoga teacher based in London;
Kristi-Leigh Gresse, a South African dancer and choreographer known for her transformative impact on the arts. 
Lara Barzon, an EUTOPIA co-tutelle PhD fellow with a joint PhD between Theatre and Performance Studies (University of Warwick) and Cultural Studies (University of Ljubljana); 
Marcia Mzindle, a freelance writer, drama, and performance tutor at the University of KwaZulu Natal (Howard College), choreographer, and dancer;
Onalenna Sellwane, a writer, theatre maker, and digital marketing creative based in Johannesburg;
Rainy Demerson, a dance artist and scholar invested in global intersectional feminism and decolonial embodiments;
Saranya Devan, recognised for her versatility in drama, dance performance, and choreography and holds a Masters in Bharathanatyam from the University of Madras and a Masters in Dance from the UCT; 
Sylvia “Magogo” Glasser, a cultural activist, teacher, choreographer, mentor, anthropologist, and writer, who founded Moving into Dance in 1978 as a non-racial dance company and training organisation and was director until 2013;
Tatenda Kanengoni, a Zimbabwean writer, researcher, and multimedia storyteller.
The conference will be streamed live on YouTube on the following link
Participants will present on Zoom, and those who wish to apply to join in the “Zoom Room”, can contact Thobile Maphanga at
For more information and news, as well as the schedule – go to:


Sharlene Versfeld
Versfeld & Associates
Public Relations and Communications
Mobile: +27 (0) 83 326 3235

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