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JOMBA! (article first published : 2006-08-8)

The Centre for Creative Arts (UKZN) has announced the line-up for the 9th Jomba! Contemporary Dance Experience. Under the artistic direction of renowned Durban-based choreographer Boyzie Cekwana, the 2006 edition will present an eclectic mix of new and cutting edge work from dance makers from around the continent and Western Europe.

Jomba! continues the tradition established by former Artistic Director, Lliane Loots, of bringing Durban audiences the best of what is contemporary about African dance with the inclusion in this year’s programme of two pioneering giants from Kenya and Burkina Faso, whose award-winning work has helped establish a bridgehead for African contemporary dance in international circles.

The festival will open with Company Salia ni Seydou (Burkina Faso) presenting their cross-continental collaborative masterpiece Weeleni - the call and featuring live musicians from Morocco as well as Burkina Faso. This work is considered to one of the finest in the repertoire of Salia Sanou and Seydou Boro, two choreographer/dancers hailed as seminal talents in the development of contemporary dance in their era, and exemplifying original dance language from the western region of our continent.

From the east, out of Kenya, comes Gaara Projects. Under choreographer Opiyo Okach this is a spatial shifting and challenging work Shift_Center integrating public presentation into the creative process. This groundbreaking site-specific piece is constructed around non-theatre environments and ideally suited to the various precincts of the KZNSA Art Gallery. Okach was one of the Prince Claus Fund laureates of 2005, honouring his efforts both as an artist and as a pioneer in the development of dance in East Africa.

The core of Jomba! remains a powerful representation of South African talent. In a bold departure from tradition, artistic director Boyzie Cekwana has committed this platform to choreographers and not companies. Nelisiwe Xaba, Musa Hlatshwayo, Mlu Zondi and Mdu Mtshali are intrepid dance makers emerging as new voices in the fast developing South African contemporary dance firmament. They have all been awarded grants to showcase their work at Jomba! 2006. Their respective pieces are Plasticization and They Look at Me and that's all They Think (Xaba), upotiyane? (Hlatshwayo), Silhouette (Zondi), and Conflicted Soul (Mtshali). Each of these pieces offers a fine opportunity to gauge the wealth of new South African contemporary dance.

Jomba! will also present a dance-for-film work by Jeanette Ginslov, one of South Africa's most enduring, innovative and iconoclastic creators. Her Breaking the Surface video-work employs rich visual, sound, animation and text material, as it explores the place of women in culture, and interrogates notions of otherness and freedom.

Two new concepts punctuate this year's edition of the festival: an innovative improvisational jam session entitled Crash Landing, and the One night stand invitational. Crash Landing brings together dancers, musicians and visual artists within one endeavour to make improvised propositions on a performance platform. This once-off experiment will have no contrived outcome and leaves the space open for the audience participation.

In the One night stand, two leading dance practitioners are invited to present works that are in the conceptual phase, in essence, works that are still in progress. The centrepiece is a dialogue session at the end of the performance where the audience is invited to an onstage question and answer session with the artist. Boyzie Cekwana of the Floating Outfit Project and Daimler Chrysler award-winner Sbo'nakaliso Ndaba of Phenduka Dance Theatre are the two invited choreographers presenting this unique programme.

Strengthening its local co-operation with the support of the KZN Dance Link, Jomba! has again offered grants to four talented young Durban choreographers creatively making their way onto the dance landscape, namely Marise Kyd, Sifiso Majola, Siphelele Nzama and Nkululeko Ntombela, who will each showcase their newest creations. It is noteworthy that three of the four principal grant award-winners in this year's Jomba!, Hlatswayo, Zondi and Mtshali, have all been previous participants in the Young Choreographers initiative.

Another highlight is the highly original inFlux Dance Company from Switzerland. Choreographed and led by Lucia Baumgartner, inFlux will present two works, Cloudcatcher and Soliloquy in trio. Based in Berne, Lucia works in film and dance and brings a special treat for Durban audiences with the inclusion and collaboration of Durban's Sipho Manashe, whose homecoming marks his first performance at Jomba!.

The festival will present two Fringe platforms: the Fringe and the Youth Fringe respectively. These highly successful events indicate the growing enthusiasm for dance in the region, particularly amongst the youth. Workshops utilising the expertise of participating choreographers offer a unique opportunity for dancers to be exposed to the variety of dance techniques and skills brought together during this festival. Participation in the workshop is free but space is limited and booking queries from practising dancers may be addressed to the Centre for Creative Arts on 031 260 2506.

The festival will take place at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre and the KZNSA Art Gallery from August 15 to 27. Booking is at Computicket for performances at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre at R35 each (R25 students and pensioners). Tickets R30 for events at the KZNSA Gallery (no advance bookings) and performances at the Dorothy Nyembe Community Hall are free. Full programme details are available on www.cca.ukzn.ac.za

The JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience of 2006 is supported by the National Lottery Distribution Fund, Humanist Institute for Development Cooperation (HIVOS), National Arts Council, Africalia, French Institute of South Africa (IFAS), CulturesFrance, République Française Ambassade de France en Afrique du Sud, Stichting Doen, Royal Netherlands Embassy, Pro-Helvetia Arts Council of Switzerland, KZN Dancelink.




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