School of Arts

First-Ever Digital JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience Opens on August 25

Scenes from past JOMBA performances.
Scenes from past JOMBA performances.

South Africa’s renowned dance festival, the JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience, celebrates its 22nd consecutive year with the first-ever online performances from 25 August to 6 September.

Presented by the Centre for Creative Arts in UKZN’s College of Humanities, JOMBA will be available free-to-air to a large global audience.

‘It is obvious to all that we will not be able to deliver a festival in the same manner as in previous years,’ said Artistic Director Dr Lliane Loots. ‘COVID-19 has shifted the arts world very significantly and in this fragile environment, dance – still defined as a full-contact “sport” – remains separated from rehearsal spaces, from theatre venues and various sites. The somatic, visceral body is absent right now but we believe – as a holding block for future embodied work – we can still offer dance-makers, dance-lovers, and audiences space to engage serious, beautiful, and important new dance making via a re-visioned JOMBA! 2020,’ said Loots.

‘This year’s JOMBA! is a carefully curated explosion of dance and conversions about dance-making, offering both a look back at some iconic dance works and dance makers but also examining what dance can be in a digital space and a digital time.’

2020 JOMBA! will offer seven vibrant platforms for audience attention while the JOMBA! Legacy programme features nine key dance-makers from all over the globe. From South Africa are Gregory Maqoma and Musa Hlatshwayo while Robyn Orlin will share work she has created with Johannesburg-based Moving into Dance Mophatong.

Nigeria’s Adedayo Liadi and Senegal’s Germaine Acogny will showcase their solo work while India’s Anita Ratnam is featured in her challenging revision of Indian mythology.

Long time JOMBA! guests, INTRODANS from the Netherlands, will grace the festival with neo-classical work made before lockdown with special appearances from the Deeply Rooted Dance Theatre in Chicago and Leslie Scott’s New Orleans BODYART Dance Company.

The JOMBA! Digital Edge has provided grants to nine Durban dance-makers – who continue to impress on the local dance scene – to create short dance films that will premiere on the festival’s opening night and be available for viewing on the JOMBA! website for the duration of the festival.

The dance-makers were asked to work loosely around the theme of ‘Intimacies of Isolation’ and there were interesting differences in modalities of filming, from cell phone to cameras. Featured choreographers are Jabu Siphika, Kristi-Leigh Gresse, Leagan Peffer, Nomcebisi Moyikwa, Sandile Mkhize, Sifiso Kitsona Khumalo, Tegan Peacock, Tshediso Kabulu, and Zinhle Nzama.

Continuing its partnership with the United States, JOMBA! has invited US-based curators Lauren Warnecke, Peter Chu, Rachel Miller and Tara Aisha Willis to put together a collection of Dance on Screen films in an inspired and poetic one-hour package of short dance films that explore the length and breadth of film dance in the USA.

The Digital JOMBA! Fringe showcases work from 18 African-based dance-makers with prizes going to the top three dance films in this section.

Four globally significant dance-makers who have embraced digital dance making under lockdown will host a live conversation around their work and what it means to have made this shift in a programme titled: Conversations…Dance in a Digital Age.

Featured are choreographers/dancers Vincent Mantsoe (South Africa/France), Jürg Koch (Switzerland), Themba Mbui (South Africa), and Ongiege Matthew (Kenya). Both Mbuli and Matthew will offer the world premiere of their new ‘lockdown’ dance works on this JOMBA! platform.

Once again the JOMBA! blog and digital newspaper JOMBA! KHULUMA will involve the on-going support of dance writing and dance criticism through a series of closed webinars/seminars for graduate dance students.

After years of photographing JOMBA, Val Adamson will share her work in an exhibition – 21 Years of JOMBA! Through The Lens. This not only honours her extraordinary photographic eye, but it is also a moment of visually remembering the festival’s history through her evocative capturing of dance on stage.

JOMBA will run off the All platforms are free of charge and a full programme is available on the website.

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