Dance festival free and online

Members of Durban’s Flatfoot Dance Company.

…….BY BILLY SUTER……

THE Jomba! contemporary dance festival held annually in Durban and now in its 23rd year, will celebrate South African and African dance-makers and companies forging new ground in their work.

These events will be free and online from August 24 to September 5 as part of the dance celebration which is annually presented by the Centre for Creative Arts at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Durban campus.

Under the platform of South African Crossings, Jomba! will present three dance programmes: Garage Dance Ensemble (O’okiep, South Africa), Cape Town dancer and choreographer Yaseen Manuel (in collaboration with Durban’s Flatfoot Dance Company) and two works presented by the Vrystaat Kunste Vees and New Dance.

In the African Crossings platform are four screen-dance films created by Marcel Gbeffa (Benin), Gaby Saranouffi (Madagascar), Robert Ssempijja (Uganda)  and Bernardo Guiamba (aka Pak Ndjamena)(Mozambique).

The Garage Dance Ensemble was founded by South African dance icons, John Linden and Alfred Hinkel, who not only birthed a new professional dance company, but have firmly nurtured new young dance voices. The company presents Gat innie Grond, Wond in My Siel (Hole in the Ground, Wound in my Soul) choreographed by Byron Klassen. The production’s main focus is to facilitate a process of exploring and translating the memories, trauma and current lived experiences of the Khoekhoegowab (South Africa’s first people).

The University of KwaZulu-Natal’s School of the Arts, in partnership with the Mellon Foundation’s Artist in Residence programme, welcomes Cape Town dancer and choreographer Yaseen Manuel as this year’s Artist in Residence. 

Manuel has been working with Durban’s Flatfoot Dance Company to create Unhinged, a work which narrates the four phases of an individual suffering with schizophrenia, set against the backdrop of South Africa. Manuel also presents his own work, Al-Kitab, which looks at the life of a contemporary South African Islamic dancer torn between religion and his art.

The final two films, by Sylvester Thamsanqa Majela (Neverland) and Sizakele Mdi (Dust to Dust), the result of a process embarked on last year by the Vrystaat Arts Festival, Georgina Thomson and New Dance Festival, called Crossings, will be presented. The process challenged the artists to work collaboratively with the intention of creating screen dance with facilitators Vincent Sekwati Mantsoe and Musa Hlatshwayo.

In My Mind, a short film from Marcel Gbeffa, the founder and artistic director of Centre Choregraphique Multicorps in Cotonou (Benin), begins to unravel the oppression of Covid-19 lockdown and how the human mind finds other escapes, travelling through space and time.

Madagascar’s Gaby Saranouffi presents Face(s) of Basadi which began as an art installation collaboration with photographer Jodi Bieber. She has turned this installation into a dance film. The work explores the important steps that women in Africa take in their cultural or traditional journeys, focusing on various rites of passage as a pillar of identity.

Ugandan Robert Ssempijja, last year’s winner of the Jomba! Pick of the Fringe, is a contemporary dance artist and dance researcher who has created a politically intense and beautiful film called Alienation. It tells of a journey of self-discovery, centred on questions of what home is and where we belong.

Finally, Mozambique’s Pak Ndjamena is a multi-faceted artist that encompasses multiple crafts, including being a dancer, choreographer, cultural promoter, musician and actor.

He has collaborated with Mozambican photographer and filmmaker Ivan Barros to present In-Box. A poetic visual feast, this short film offers the dancing body as it reflects memories of the past and present; the body in search of human resilience. The film has a message of evocation to hope.

Jomba! is free to watch anywhere from August 24 to September 5 – online on Youtube: https://bit.ly/WatchJomba

For the full programme go to : https://bit.ly/JOMBAProg


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