School of Arts

Celebrated SA choreographer Jay Pather features as Legacy Artist at JOMBA!

South African choreographer, Professor Jay Pather
South African choreographer, Professor Jay Pather

Celebrated South African choreographer and arts visionary, Professor Jay Pather features as the 2021 Legacy Artist and will open this year’s online JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience (24 August), hosted by the Centre for Creative Arts (CCA) within the College of Humanities.

Award-winning dance photographer Val Adamson, complements the Legacy Artist announcement with a photographic exhibition of Pather’s work created with Siwela Sonke Dance Theatre over the years.

‘I am thrilled to be named this year’s Legacy Artist and receive it with great respect, especially for the JOMBA! Festival that struggled to maintain contemporary dance in this country against many odds. As an artist, you don’t decide to leave any kind of legacy. I was always interested in innovation so I was constantly trying to find something new and film a new vision, without knowing how it would be received,’ said Pather.

UKZN Dance lecturer and curator of JOMBA! Dr Lliane Loots added, ‘Since the festival’s inception 23 years ago, JOMBA! has been home to many of Pather’s works and they were very excited to honour this legacy. This after two decades of creating innovative and deeply challenging dance theatre that unashamedly picked at too easy ideas of a rainbow nation at peace with itself.’

As founder and director of the Siwela Sonke Dance Theatre company, Pather has forged a path as one of South Africa’s most critical and innovative dance makers, often celebrating the border crossings of cultural clash and the dis-ease of the “rainbow nation”. His work has toured all over the world and JOMBA! is delighted to be honouring Pather’s incredible legacy at this year’s festival.

Now living in Cape Town, Pather is an Associate Professor and directs the Institute for Creative Arts at the University of Cape Town, and curates Infecting the City Public Art Festival.  He has recently been appointed Fellow at the University of London and was made Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres (Knight of Arts and Letters) by the French Government.

As part of honouring Pather as the 2021 Legacy Artist, JOMBA! has commissioned another Living Legend, Durban photographer Val Adamson, to offer a digital photographic retrospective exhibition of Pather’s work with Siwela Sonke. This exhibition titled Through The Lens: Val Adamson in Photographic Conversation with Jay Pather, is a collection of over 100 photos that illustrate the connection between Adamson’s evocative and living dance photography and Pather’s dance vision.

Adamson has photographed dance in South Africa since 1985, and has staged numerous exhibitions which have toured to arts festivals around the country. Her most recent was presented in the digital edition of JOMBA! in 2020, featuring photography of the festival over 21 years. She has been widely acknowledged for her contribution to the dance world in South Africa, including an award in 2012 from KZN DanceLink and as a Living Legend by eThekwini Municipality for her work in documenting theatre.

Pather opens this year’s digital JOMBA! Festival on 24 August at 7pm. It will be available on

Through The Lens: Val Adamson in Photographic Conversation with Jay Pather can be accessed on the JOMBA! Website here from 24 August.

The festival runs from 24 August to 5 September 2021.

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