BY BILLY SUTER
A 70-MINUTE compilation of 10 American dance films will be screened free online under the umbrella title USA Dance on Screen, as part of the 22nd Jomba! Contemporary Dance Experience. The programme is supported by the USA Consulate in Durban.
The festival, digital this year, is presented by the Centre for Creative Arts on the Durban campus of the University of KwaZulu-Natal. It runs free of charge from August 25 to September 6 with an array of dance works.
USA Dance on Screen, one of the programmes on offer, has been curated by Lauren Warnecke, Peter Chu, Rachel Miller and Tara Aisha Willis. All four of the curators are from the US and have especially teamed for the Jomba! screen dance programme which will stream live at 7pm on August 30 and September 6. Bonus materials will be available on the Jomba! website.at jomba.ukzn.ac.za.
“When seeking films for this project, we consciously sought out films which showcased a varied American experience, both culturally and stylistically” says the curatorial statement from the curators. “Our intentions were to give a voice to those who are often unheard from and to present films that have artistic integrity, show a variety of movement styles and explorations, and have multiple ways in which an audience might “read” them. Overall, we chose films that spoke to the multitude and variety of American communities, cultural experiences, sexual orientations and gender identities to give Jomba! audiences a taste of the diverse landscape of American dance-makers.”
The programme features the following films:
Memory Keep(H)er acts as an archive to hold memories of the filmmaker’s grandmother growing up in Crockett and Huntsville, Texas.
Pull Up explores the expression of protest and how it pertains to authenticity in allyship. It is an examination of accountability, education and a commitment to progression.
Separate Sentences explores the generational impact of incarceration and the toll on families and communities. Cast members are “Bay Area” performers, some of whom have been incarcerated or are family members of people who are incarcerated.
Abbey depicts the interior life of a sheltered young Filipina, alone in a university dance setting in middle America. Sakamoto and Carlos collaborated in an effort to bear witness to, and portray, Carlos’s tenuous liminality as a stranger in a strange land.
Bound is a dance film in three parts as the dancers move through different relationships to an object – books – the symbolism inherent in the physical relationship vacillates as well.
About Inertia is a slow-motion, acrobatic Breakin’ movie that echoes the struggle for balance when the world is flipped on its head. When being in motion becomes a state of constant regression, being at rest can feel like incredible progress. This is a meditative reflection on the effort and endurance that is demanded on the road to recovery.
Uprooted uses contemporary and Mid-Michigan site-specific dance, metaphor and movement to address issues of immigration, migration, and displacement to a soundtrack of local immigrant stories that narrate their relationships to the concept of “uprooted.”
subMERGE is set on Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles – a sixteen-mile corridor that spans across ethnicity and cultural and economically diverse communities in LA. The site is the echo of this film.
Supreme Love is a celebration of John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme with live jazz and tap dance. Supreme Love displays the spiritual, artistic and historical values that infuse human life. Its expresses true life through the art of tap dance.
Revel In Your Body is a film with stunning choreography in slow motion, amidst an open blue sky and industrial playground, which reveals the joy of flight on wheels. This film originated as a creative concept when the dancers shared online a slow-motion iPhone video of them jumping on a trampoline while strapped into their wheelchairs.
Access components for Revel in Your Body take an insider approach for the blind and non-visual or deaf and hard of hearing experience of the film. Audio describer and captioner, Cheryl Green, has composed an aural and captioned experience that, along with music and text description, creates an emotional arc with space for mystery. Rather than describing only what the dancers are doing, the description takes you inside how the movement feels. The film can be experienced with Audio Description, captioning, or both simultaneously.