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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

JOMBA! CHOREOLAB RESIDENCE (article first published : 2007-09-24)

Since inception 10 years ago, the annual Jomba! contemporary dance festival has been mindful of the need to offer opportunities for dance development. This has included specialised dance workshops, choreographers’ forums, dance conferences and last year’s collaborative improvisations. Young upcoming choreographers have been a central focus of these initiatives across the years.

KZN DanceLink, which represents many of the province’s dance groups from all communities, took up the call from both its 2006 AGM and its Dance Indaba at the Catalina last November to provide more in the way of choreographic development. In discussions with the Jomba! Organisers, it was agreed to pool resources and the result was the ChoreoLab Residence which was hosted by Jomba! 2007. The 11 participants identified through a call-out and proposal process were Thulile Bengu, Sitembiso Gcabashe, Sifiso Khumalo, Mlekeleli Khuzwayo, Vusi Makanya, Sanele Mzinyane, Sifiso Magesh Ngcobo, Sibusiso Ngidi, S’phelele Nzama, Varsha Sharma and Jabu Siphika.

Phase 1 of the programme commenced in May 2007 with choreographic workshops mentored by Professor Gary Gordon (Rhodes University) was entirely organised, funded and co-ordinated by KZN DanceLink. Phase 2 took place prior and during Jomba! 2007 under the dual mentorship of Mozambican choreographer Panaibra Gabriel and French lighting designer, Eric Wurtz. Work created by the 11 young artists were showcased over the two weekends of Jomba! 2007.

The 11 works were wide-ranging in their themes and presentation, some preferring to use bare stages, others exploring the use of costumes, props, organic material, sets or video presentations. Throughout the lighting was excellent and evocative but the aspect of the works that impressed me the strongest was the use of music. I commend all choreographers for their choice of music, whether recorded or performed live. Gone are the days, hopefully, of the use of music pieces chosen at random and crassly joined together without crossfades or any logical link. Many choreographers chose to work in silence – attracting a more powerful focus to the movement itself.

(A brief detailed look at each work will be posted to artSMart shortly. Watch these pages!)




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