School of Arts

A Digital Edge – nine new works by KZN dance-makers for 22nd (DIGITAL) JOMBA

Performers for A Digital Edge.
Performers for A Digital Edge.

The free online 22nd JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience, presented by the Centre for Creative Arts within the College of Humanities has a packed programme of 10 US dance films and 22 dance works including some created during the 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 JOMBA!

The dance-makers, who continue to make waves on the local dance scene, were asked to create short dance films around the theme of Intimacies of Isolation.  They include Durban dancers Jabu Siphika, Kristi-Leigh Gresse, Leagan Peffer, Nomcebisi Moyikwa, Sandile Mkhize, Sifiso Kitsona Khumalo, Tshediso Kabulu, and Zinhle Nzama, and Pietermaritzburg’s Tegan Peacock.

Flatfoot Dance Company’s Siphika’s solo piece Ya kutoshais 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 Gresse explores an artist’s state of mind in isolation and is a journey through this maze in search of light.

Neo-classical wonder-person Peffer’s Kairos presents a personal journey in a solo that delves into the confluence of passion and purpose. The work interrogates how life enables us to confront struggle in love, anger, deceit, and loss as well as in failure.

Moyikwa’s work, U n g a n y a k u m, is an experimental multidisciplinary ‘contemplation; a devotion and a prayer decomposed. It is an engagement with silence – demonstrated by blank spaces, an intentioned meditation that seeks evidence for the question: What does it mean to insist not to die?’

One of Durban’s hidden dance gems, Mkhize (Phakama Dance Company) seeks ‘history, forefathers, revolution, and ways of being under COVID-19 and our humanity’ in his work, Time which he performs with Cue Ngema.

Walls is a deeply intimate exploration of a father-daughter relationship set against the separation imposed by COVID-19 and the lockdown and created and performed by 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, Peacock has created a short film called Control – Alt – Delete which offers 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 said. For this piece, she collaborated with artist Jono Hornby.

Dynamic dancer and choreographer, Kabulu’s work, Space of Colour 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. Kabulu and Motlatsi Khotle perform this work with poetry by Khwezi Becker and music by Anelisa Stuurman.

Finally, Nzama (Flatfoot Dance Company) performing with Kirsty Ndawo offers Shadow that looks at friendship and the validation of always having someone there for you, 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,’ said Artistic Director Dr 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 to make, create and share their most intimate stories; nothing can keep us from this.’

Recently appointed Director of the Centre for Creative Arts, Dr Ismail Mohamed will welcome the audience, and Loots will deliver an address prior to the streaming of the Digital Edge films on Tuesday, 25 August at 7pm.

The festival runs from 25 August until 6 September off the website The programme will be streamed at 7pm each evening. From 27 August, the previous evening’s programme will be repeated each day at 12 noon. All platforms for 2020 are free of charge and a full programme is available via the website.

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