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JOMBA! YOUNG CHOREOGRAPHERS (article first published : 2004-08-30)

Tonight saw the last programme in the JOMBA! 2004 Contemporary Dance Experience, The JOMBA! Young Choreographers.

As part of the ongoing development of young dance and choreography talent, JOMBA! 2004 awarded four choreographic grants to up and coming dance makers in Durban who have, over the last two years, begun to make important contributions to the South African dance scene.

Ntombi Gasa’s Boyzone_chillax opens with a card sharp at work, the inevitable gambler losing and onlookers who have their own agenda. I didn’t quite follow the change from the dramatic movement scenario to the dance sequence but I think the message ended up for me being that wherever there are headstrong young men, there’s liable to be some kind of confrontation! The piece was beautifully lit, particularly for the good choice of bronze fabric in the costumes. I wished that the jacket left onstage could have been deposited in the wings as it disturbed an otherwise attractive image. Boyzone_chillax tended to be a bit repetitive but Vusi Thabethe impressed me with his proud bearing throughout.

Always a forceful performer, Siyanda Duma presented Up Close which looked at four different people sharing their experiences with others, regardless as to whether or not the listeners were interested! This work also dealt with confrontation and the frustration of being unable to vent one’s anger or hurt. A television camera was well utilised and speech was used to good effect. It was in isiZulu which, unfortunately, I was not able to follow but the audience response clearly indicated that there was much humour involved! Notable in this piece was Jabulani Mfeka who also acquitted himself well in Boyzone_chillax.

Mdu Mtshali brought some interesting concepts to his work Unknown Citizens in which he muses that “If you are in, you are in for life, so our time is now!” Cleverly using laid-out clothes (among them a red top) on the floor suggesting a fire, he created an almost primeval feel which involved the imagery of birds, animals and – perhaps - ancestral spirits. I thought the female dancers’ costumes were illogical, particularly the white shirts. It was, however, a compelling work where the movements were smoothly sculpted.

In Umthombi, Musa Hlatshwayo presented the unchallenged highlight of the evening. This was brought about not only through the quality of his choreography and dancing but by the extremely high standard of his co-star, young Ngcebo Nzama. It was an electric, controlled and sustained partnership, the boy mirroring the movements of the man in this work which dealt with the pathway to manhood. The use of strong lighting throwing shadows onto the psyche meant that sometimes the boy dominated the man. A strong and rivetting story without words, it incorporated many touching moments.

Congratulations to all four choreographers for an interesting evening and all kudos to the organisers and sponsors of JOMBA! for yet another jam-packed event of exciting and stimulating dance. Here’s to 2005! – Caroline Smart

For more information on “JOMBA!” visit www.cca.ukzn.ac.za




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