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JOMBA! CONTEMPORARY DANCE EXPERIENCE (article first published : 2003-08-18)

One of the highlights on Durban’s dance calendar is the Centre for Creative Arts’ Jomba! Contemporary Dance Experience - a feast of dance showcasing a range of top local and international dance which takes place at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre, the NSA Gallery, Wiggins Hall in Cato Manor and the Austerville Hall in Wentworth from August 22 to 31.

As a key contemporary dance festival in South Africa, Jomba! offers creative exchange opportunities for local choreographers and arts practitioners. The festival comprises a ten-day programme packed with performances, workshops and dance skills-sharing, master classes and heated debates on dance and arts issues.

The foreign contingent includes works by Finnish choreographer Jyrki Karttunen, and Dutch breakdance hip/hop crew Illusionary RockAz and a collaborative work by South Africa's Moeketsi Koena and Madagascar-based choreographer Gaby Saranouffi.

A key objective of Jomba! is to nurture and develop Durban's own contemporary dance scene. With this in mind local dance companies Siwela Sonke Dance Theatre, Fantastic Flying Fish Dance Company, Phenduka Dance Theatre and Flatfoot Dance Company, form an integral part of this year’s festival.

Jyrki Karttunen presents Keiju (Fairy) a dance work for adults disguised as a fairy tale. Interacting and performing alongside projected visual images of himself dancing, Karttunen's piece is groundbreaking stuff that has blasted contemporary dance into unchartered performance territory. He has danced in the ranks of the Helsinki City Theatre Dance Company (1989-93) and performed in the Finnish National Ballet as a visiting soloist. He has performed in major contemporary choreographic works in addition to making new works of his own. In 1997 and 2000, Karttunen was awarded a three-year state grant for dance in Finland. Performances of Keiju are on August 22 and August 23 at 19h30. Karttunen will also conduct an open level technique class on August 23 from 09h00 at UND Dance Studio.

The collaborative work from Moeketsi Koena and Gaby Saranouffi, Blame Me Blind, initially commissioned by the FNB Dance Umbrella and assisted by IFAS, encourages the audience to think about HIV/AIDS through the use of music, poetry, film and dance. Koena is a choreographer and performer who studied at the P.A.R.T.S. School in Brussels. He has travelled extensively and concerns himself with many community outreach projects. Gaby Saranouffi is a choreographer, dancer and teacher who has studied in France, Belgium and Senegal. In 1998 she entered and won the Karajia dance festival, and won the most outstanding female performer in 1999 - 2000. Blame me Blind will be performed at the Wiggins Hall, in Cato Manor on August 26 at 18h30 and at the Sneddon Theatre on August 27 at 19h30. The two will conduct workshops at Wiggins Hall in Cato Manor on August 25 at 14h30 and at the UND Dance Studio on August 27 at 14h00.

Jyrki Karttunen, Moeketsi Koena and Gaby Saranouffi will perform their works at the New Dance Festival which takes place from August 15 to 23 at the Wits Theatre, in Johannesburg. This is an initiative started by well-known arts administrator Georgina Thomson that offers both local and international choreographers an opportunity to show their work.

Award-winning, street smart Dutch breakdance crew the Illusionary RockAz present a modern epic entitled Age of Chaos. Using the art of breakdancing, "poppin" and "lockin" in a spectacular dance adventure with 3D computer generated images, Age of Chaos promises another new unchartered dance experience for local audiences. Choreographed by the company, the dance work tells the story of five warriors who are sent by the Gods from a magical world to the Earth to perform several tasks to bring Earth back to balance. The Illusionary RockAz will perform on August 30 at 13h30 at the Austerville Hall in Wentworth and at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre at 19h30 the same day. They will also conduct a two hour breakdance workshop at the Silvertree Road Hall in Wentworth on August 29 from 14h30 (It is essential to book for this workshop as there are limited places available - phone 031 260 1142).

The Flatfoot Dance Company's a stranger in a strange land choreographed by Lliane Loots is a thought-provoking study into the consciousness of the South Africa story which looks at dreams versus reality: Is this the South Africa of our nightmares and of our visions? Flatfoot performs on August 29 and 30.

Jay Pather's Siwela Sonke Dance Theatre perform O, a work that examines the concept "zero" or nothingness which evolves around the celebration of the moving body in space. Siwela performs on August 28, 29 and 30.

Phenduka Dance Theatre presents When the Outside Comes In which won the Daimler Chrysler Award for South African Choreography in 2003. Choreographed by Sbonakaliso Ndaba, this work is about African ancestral spirits and examines what it means to be a contemporary South African and to confront the schism between the traditional rural and modern beliefs and values.

In the tradition of Phenduka’s search for an African contemporary dance language a second work entitled Ekhaya Ngingumhambi (At Home I am a Stranger) has been choreographed by Sifiso Kweyama These works will be performed on August 28 and 29. Phenduka conducts an open level contemporary dance workshop at the UND Dance studio on August 30.

Run For Cover is a new work conceived and choreographed by David Gouldie, Resident Choreographer of Fantastic Flying Fish Dance Company. It looks at how we identify ourselves in an evolving society. What do we consider the 'norm'? By portraying what we consider the accepted stereotype we can assert who we are, who we would like to be and who we are terrified of being associated with. FFFDC perform on August 28 and 29.Young choreographers/performance artists Vaughn Sadie, Suhana Gordhan, Ntando Cele, Samantha Wright and Siyanda Duma have been given grants for new works to be presented as Jomba! Dance Quickies at the NSA Gallery on August 25 at 18h30.

As part of Jomba’s philosophy to nurture and encourage emerging dance talent ten young choreographers have been given grants by the Centre for Creative Arts to create new works for the festival: The Jomba Young Choreographers’ Grants have been awarded to Musa Hlatshwayo, Ignatius van Heerden, Neliswa Rushualang, Sphelele Nzama and Mlungisi Zondi. Their cutting edge new works will be presented on the last night of the festival (August 31 at 19h30) which has traditionally been an exciting culmination of the festival.

The Centre for Creative Arts acknowledges the kind support of principal sponsors The National Lottery and The Royal Netherlands Embassy, as well as sponsors and partners The National Arts Council of South Africa, Ethekwini Municipality, Hivos, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland, Embassy of Finland (SA), The French Institute of South Africa (IFAS), University of Natal - Public Affairs Division, NSA Gallery, Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre. Tickets can be purchased through Computicket, or at Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre one hour before performances. Festival enquiries on 031 260 2506 or 260 3118. Email: jomba@nu.ac.za or visit www.und.ac.za/und/carts




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