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JOMBA (article first published : 2005-08-15)

THE 8th Jomba! Contemporary Dance EXPERIENCE presented by the Centre for Creative Arts (UKZN) takes place at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre , the KZNSA, Ekhaya Multi-Arts Centre (KwaMashu) and the Dorothy Nyembe Community Hall (Cato Crest) from August 17 to 28.

Eight years on and 2005 JOMBA! promises to be Durban's biggest and best ever 12 day feast of international, national and local contemporary dance. Featuring award-winning companies from around the globe, this year's festival also features a comprehensive workshop and dance-skills sharing programme with some of Africa's and Europe's leading dancers and choreographers.

The highlight of this year's JOMBA! is undoubtedly the presence of Africa's greatest contemporary choreographer and dancer, Germaine Acogny. Heralded as the 'Martha Graham of Africa", Acogny makes a rare trip to South Africa with her Senegalese company JANT-BI. Her full length work, Fagaala combines the expression of the Japanese theatre form of Butoh with her own blend of African contemporary dance to create an emotional hard-hitting work that delves into the 1995 genocide in Rwanda; the fear, the hatred, the pain, but also the survival, the forgiveness and the love. Fagaala comes to South Africa after a sell-out African and European tour where they received standing ovations after each performance. In this work Germaine Acogny, as an African woman, has taken a stand to use the powerful languages of both traditional African and contemporary dance to place a mirror onto her own Africa - a continent of both madness and beauty! Fagaala is to be performed on August 26 and 27 at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre at 20h00. Also on offer is the rare opportunity to hear Germaine Acogny speak about her work after the performance on August 26. Jant-Bi will also present an open workshop at Ekhaya at 13h30 on August 27.

A further highlight for the festival is the presence of LAB DANCE fresh from The Netherlands. The company is made up of seven young dynamic dancers and choreographers who have all danced and trained with Nederlands Dans Theatre but who have itched to break out of the mould and experiment. Bringing four new works, this company is the cutting edge of Europe at its finest. Catch them on August 23 and 24 at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre at 19h30. They will also be teaching technique classes for adult dancers on the morning of August 24 and 25 (call 031-260 2506 for more details).

Gregory Maqoma, one of South Africa's most nationally and internationally awarded young choreographers, makes a welcome return to Durban, and his acclaimed Virtually Blonde, featuring his Johannesburg-based company, Moving Into Dance Mophatong, opens the festival this year. This is an evocative journey into how South Africans find different ways to confront our histories and how the body unconsciously reveals hidden and personal narratives. Catch Virtually Blonde on August 17 and 18 at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre at 19h30.

JOMBA! has always been proud to host the fruits of collaboration and this year sees the inimitable Durban-based Sbonakaliso Ndaba (of Phenduka Dance Theatre) debut her new work created with Moving Into Dance Mophatong. Called Once In Our Life, Our Journey Begins this collaboration is a seamless blending of two great forces in the South Africa's contemporary dance landscape - not to be missed on August 19 and 20 at 19h30 at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre.

The festival also promises the great and significant talent of Durban's top professional contemporary dance companies and will premiere new works by Lliane Loots and Flatfoot Dance Company, David Gouldie and The Fantastic Flying Fish Dance Company and, Sbonakaliso Ndaba's new duet created especially for JOMBA! with her own Phenduka Dance Theatre. All three award-winning companies perform on August 19 and 20 at the Sneddon Theatre at 19h30. Early booking is advised as these performances are usually sold out.

JOMBA! partners this year with the KZNSA Gallery and curator Storm Janse van Rensburg in a week long series of dance activities at the gallery. The programme begins with the book launch of the seminal "African Contemporary Dance?" conference proceedings from the international JOMBA! conference in 2004. This book is a richly illustrated account of the cutting edge debates in dance today. The book will be launched with a panel discussion chaired by award winning Gauteng based theatre journalist, Adrienne Sichel and will feature heightened debate on the nature of collaboration between choreography and fine art with artists like Jay Pather, Lliane Loots, Doung Anwar-Jahangeer and Siyanda Duma (amongst others). This takes place on August 22 at 18h00 at the KZNSA. Jay Pather's new Paradise Project will premiere with a once only performance on August 25 at 18h30 at the KZNSA. Pather has worked with and nurtured 12 of Durban's finest up and coming young artists to create work that challenges and evokes the idea of 'paradise'. Full of the glorious chaos that Pather is able to wield like a choreographic wand, Paradise combines a range of languages from text, dance, video and music. And finally, the KZNSA plays host to the West African Mali-based priestess of contemporary dance, Kettly NoŽl, in her one-woman solo Errance. NoŽl seduced Durban audiences in 2004 and returns to JOMBA! to continue her choreographic investigation of madness, wounds, bruising, but also revelation and joy. Her work can be seen at the KZNSA on August 26 and 27 at 18h30.

Also up for grabs is JOMBA!'s commitment to nurturing young dance talent with the Jomba Fringe on August 21 at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre at 19h30 and the Jomba! Youth Fringe hosted at the Dorothy Nyembe Community Hall (Cato Crest) on August 20 at 13h30. Both platforms are a treat of undiscovered new talent - this is where the great choreographers of the future begin their road to professional dance.

The JOMBA! Young Choreographers Platform sees four choreographers presenting new cutting edge dance work on August 28 at 19h30 at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre. The selected participants this year are, Marise Kyd, Sifiso Majola, Mlekeleli Khuzwayo and Caroline van Wyk, each of whom was given a small choreographic grant to assist in making this new work and will be part of a process of input and nurturing by some of Durban's more established choreographers.

There is also an extensive workshop programme offered during this 12-day celebration of the best international, national and local contemporary dance. (For more details on the workshops contact 031-260 2506.) The full programme and information about the participating companies is available on www.cca.ukzn.ac.za

All ticket prices (for the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre and KZNSA) are R35 with the student discount of R25. Book at Computicket.




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