A scene from Adedayo Liadi’s “Aye Asan (Vanity”, a collaboration between Ijodee Dance Company, Nigeria and Flatfoot Dance Comapany, South Africa (Photograph: Val Adamson)

African collaboration as part of Digital JOMBA!s Legacy Programme

by Dr. Sarahleigh Castelyn (Guest Writer and Reader in Performing Arts, University of East London, UK)

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A blue light covers the stage in a haze. Bodies spread out crouching, pulsating to a percussive and reverberating music track. The stage floor seems to hold these bodies as they writhe against its magnetic pull. Something strong, something powerful, almost like mercury, pulls these bodies together into an organic breathing living organism; they are a critical mass of moving bodies and at the same time, individuals vibrating with their own rhythm. From this assemblage of undulating figures, Flatfoot dancer Jabu Siphika pulls herself upwards to stand tall yet still remains connected to the frame of figures below. Slowly, one-by-one, each of the dancers join her — Thobeka Quvane [Teekay] (Flatfoot), Sifiso Khulmalo (Flatfoot), Mlondolozi Zondi (Flatfoot), Frank Konwea (Ijodee) and Sifiso Ngcobo [Magesh] (Flatfoot), — and as they rise they speak directly to the audience sharing the origins of their names and their background journeys. There is humour, there is pathos, there is the history of these dancing bodies as individuals and as part of a community in this choreographic exploration of what it is to be human and how our life journeys and who we are — as sole beings and as a society — are shaped directly and indirectly by our judgement and the decisions of others; both by chance and by choice.

In 2011, acclaimed choreographer Adedayo Liadi, the Artistic Director of Ijodee Dance Company based in Nigeria, worked closely with Flatfoot Dance Company (South Africa) to create ‘Aye Asan’ (vanity) bringing dancers from South Africa and Nigeria together on stage in a valuable and often rare cross-continent collaboration. ‘Aye Asan’ joins other key works in the tradition of contemporary dance in Africa as part of the JOMBA! Digital “LEGACY PROGRAMME” and audiences are able to view this significant dance work. Although ‘Aye Asan’ is not created for the screen as this version is a recording of its premiere at the 13th JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience (2011), it rightfully takes its place as a dance work that must be viewed and studied as part of the history of contemporary dance in Africa, and as an example of work in which African cross-partnership has occurred; an often too rare event and definitely something needed more of!

‘Aye Asan’ streams on the Digital JOMBA! Platform at 19:00 (SAST) on 28 August, with a repeat screening at 12:00 (SAST) on 29 August, visit http://www.jomba.ukzn.ac.za for more information and access to the full festival programme.

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JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience

25th annual JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience 29 August – 10 September 2023