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JOMBA! (article first published : 2004-08-27)

The annual celebration of contemporary dance, JOMBA! 2004, is mainly based at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre but this year other venues have been involved. Hosted by the University of KwaZulu-Natal's Centre for Creative Arts (CCA), JOMBA! draws to a close on August 29 after a widely ranging programme of performances and workshops.

Unfortunately, my schedule has been so tight that this evening was the first time I was able to take part in the JOMBA! experience. The programme included works by Fantastic Flying Fish and Flatfoot Dance Company which were awarded grants by the CCA to premiere new work at the festival. Also appearing on the programme was the Floating Outfit Project.

Two stylistically different choreographers – David Gouldie and Quinton Ribbonaar – created Integration for Fantastic Flying Fish Dance Company. The idea was to explore different vocabularies and styles. A line of chairs offered an area for dramatic and exciting male confrontations of supremacy while on the opposite side of the stage, the females were working closely together. A fascinating piece, it talked about the human capacity to subdue, control, support and eventually integrate. Good to see Thulebona Mzizi back in the company – long may he remain.

Flatfoot Dance Company’s artistic director Lliane Loots looked at the subject of land claims, boundaries and legacies of the Group Areas Act in her piece Surfacing. A couple restricted in Victorian outfits pose in artificial stances while two pregnant (not costumed, really pregnant!) women move gracefully in the background like waving reeds in a gently-flowing river. The Victorians change into earth-coloured clothing representing an African persona, toiling on the land, supporting and encouraging each other towards a better state. A young woman observes each of the couples with wonderment and eventually unites them all in homage to the soil of the land.

To Boyzie Cekwana must go the honours of the evening for his Cut!! presented by his Floating Outfit Project and featuring himself and Desiré Davids. It is a real treat for us to see Boysie in Durban as this award-winning choreographer is much in demand internationally. Cut!! incorporates a stimulating mix of styles, with Boysie’s choreography cleanly defined. The opening section of tentative exploration was well-designed to utilise his long arms and eloquent fingers to best effect. His use of music was highly effective, mixing opera with Juluka’s Impi. Delicious humour was produced from the man’s determination to impose traditional Zulu attire into the woman’s space. She promptly rejects it, only to embrace African movement later in the piece.

Subtitled (episode 1), Cut!! is “to be completed” during a residence in Nancy, France, next year. All I can say is that if this highly polished piece is the first instalment of a work in progress, I dearly wish to see the finished article!

Altogether, this programme of exciting choreography breaks new ground in dance. Do try to see the final performance tomorrow (August 28) at 19h30. The final event of JOMBA! will be the Young Choreographers performance on Sunday (August 29).

Principal funders of the 2004 Jomba! Contemporary Dance Experience are the National Lottery Distribution Fund, HIVOS, Royal Netherlands Embassy, Africalia, Association Franciase d'action Artistique, and the French Institute of South Africa. Full programme details of Jomba! activities are available on www.cca.ukzn.ac.za – Caroline Smart




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