Anita Ratnam brings “Ma3ka” and “Stone… once again” to the Digital JOMBA! platform (picture supplied)

Goddess, on stage and screen

By Kamini Govender (Guest Writer)

Dance is a visceral art form, a somatic meditation which has been the poignant offering from JOMBA!, for the past 22 years. In adapting to the constraints of the pandemic, JOMBA! has gone digital. Although the times do not permit the intimacy of the theatrical experience, we are once again reminded of the resilience of artists, who endeavour to create an experience that transcends space.

Such is the work of Anita Ratnam, who has contributed two of her recent pieces to the festival, Ma3ka and Stone…once again. Dr Ratnam has been described as an “intersectionist”, combining storytelling, ritual, dance and dramaturgy into her work. Trained in Bharata Natyam, Mohiniattam and Kathakali, she has termed her distinctive style of movement as “Neo Bharata”; a contemporary Indian kinetic situated on a mature body. Her distinguished career has been carved by her reinterpretation of traditional Hindu mythology through a feminist lens.

Her piece Stone…once again interrogates the myth of Ahalya; a woman who is turned to stone for her supposed lust and infidelity. Her fate is determined by men; burdened for her pleasure and for rejecting the values imposed upon her existence. Using fabric and tonal lighting, Ratnam creates the metaphor of a stone to explore the rigid forms women are forced to exist in. The piece demonstrates the slow frustrations of being entrapped; the contemporary sentiment that women are seemingly screaming through rocks and yet, finding the freedom that exists through self-determination.

In contrast, Ma3ka, focuses on the trinity of Godesses — Saraswati (Godess of Knowledge), Lakshmi (Godess of Prosperity) and Meenakshi. (Goddess of Strength). The music and vocals outline the images created by Ratnam’s Neo Bharata; elegantly moving from graceful to powerful, awesome to ferocious, to encompass the dynamism of the feminine Divine. It is a meditative, energised and playful performance that portrays the eclectic power of womanhood.

Catch Ma3ka, and Stone…once again on the Digital JOMBA! Legacy Programme on Saturday 29th August at 19:00 (SAST) and again on Sunday 30 August at 12:00 (SAST) at




23rd annual JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience 24 August – 5 September 2021 (digital festival)

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JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience

JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience

23rd annual JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience 24 August – 5 September 2021 (digital festival)

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