School of Arts

The Body Politics remembered during Women’s Month through Dance at JOMBA

Performers for JOMBA! 2020.
Performers for JOMBA! 2020.

South Africa honours and celebrates the role of women in society during Women’s Month and on Women’s Day (9 August), in commemoration of the march of about 20 000 women to the Union Buildings in Pretoria in 1956 to petition against the country’s pass laws.

‘Sixty-four years later, at our annual JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience, taking place in August, women’s social, economic, and political struggles, challenges, hopes, and joys, are exposed and expressed through their work and bodies,’ said Dr Lliane Loots, Artistic Director of JOMBA. ‘Dance is a visceral art form that gives space to a body politics and what better way to image defiant and powerful women than those dancing?’

JOMBA! will feature some of Africa (and the world’s) most powerful female voices in dance, including Senegal’s award-winning choreographer and dancer, Germaine Acogny, considered as the “mother of Contemporary African dance”. Her 2015 work Somewhere at the beginning that will be streamed during the festival, is a remarkable solo featuring a 73-year-old Acogny dancing and narrating a journey of self-identity as black, female, and African.

Flatfoot Dance Company choreographer and dancer Jabu Siphika’s solo piece Ya kutosha, created for JOMBAis an intimate and terrifying exploration of gender-based violence and what it means to be trapped in the home.

Twelve-year-old Lethiwe Zamantungwa Nzama teams up with her father Sifiso Kitsona Khumalo to make her professional debut in a piece called Walls, a deeply intimate exploration of a father-daughter relationship set against the separation imposed by COVID-19 and the lockdown.

Chicago-based Deeply Rooted Dance Theatre, under the direction of Nicole Clarke-Springer features in Parallel Lives, a dance narrative inspired by poor, working women who have shared life-changing events, both beautiful and tragic. Performed with robust power, this is a must-see at this year’s festival.

India’s Anita Ratnam, a highly respected performer, writer, speaker, arts entrepreneur, and culture mentor features in Stone … once again that reveals the facets of gender through misrepresentation and misogyny. This work was conceived after Donald Trump’s election as US president.  Ratnam’s main area of focus is the re-interpretation of traditional tropes from myth and legend through a feminist lens.

Power-house dance-maker, Robin Orlin who is known for her incisive wit and ability to confront issues head-on in the dance space, presents a work created for Johannesburg-based Moving into Dance Mophatong called Beauty remained for just a moment then returned gently to her starting position …

From New Orleans, Leslie Scott and the BODYART Dance Company return to the JOMBA “stage” with several works, all of which show huge courage and bravery in pushing the boundaries of the dancer’s relationship with audiences.

Other women dance-makers on the programme include Kristi-Leigh Gresse, Leagan Peffer, Nomcebisi Moyikwa, Tegan Peacock, and Zinhle Nzama presenting works on the opening night, which have been commissioned by JOMBA.

Digital JOMBA will stream online from from 25 August to 6 September 2020.

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