Nelisiwe Xaba and Marie-Caroline Hominal present their collaborative “Hominal/Xaba” at JOMBA!’s opening night on 30 August 2022. Photograph courtesy of Val Adamson

Image, visuality and collaborative dance-making

By Nkosingiphile (Mancane) Dlamini


After two-and-a-half years of a dark Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre in lieu of Covid-19, we meet again to witness work at the 24th JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience. As I sit in the auditorium the stage is set for the opening show Hominal/Xaba. There are folded cloths hanging all over the stage with different colours, an image of a landscape comes to mind. On the floor there’s threaded colours of wool creating a spiderweb of colour. “Beautiful!”, I say to myself.

Sitting in the auditorium, I start to wonder… Is this about intersectionality? Is it about our rainbow nation? …

The opening address for the festival delivered by festival curator: Dr. Lliane Loots opens with a poem by Roque Dalton. Loots quotes: “I believe the world is beautiful and that poetry and dance, like bread, is for everyone. And that my veins don’t end in me but in the unanimous blood of those who struggle for life, love, little things, landscape and bread…”

I consider how far we’ve come … I think of ubuhlungu esesidlule kubona kuze kube imanje[1], of friends we last saw two and a half years ago, of uhambo[2] that we still need to take.

The speech finishes.

Bright lights flood the stage. I hear the what sounds to me like a train. Dancer/choreographer Marie-Caroline Hominal enters with a ball of wool, her collaborator dancer/choreographer Nelisiwe Xaba joins with her own ball of wool. They weave their intersecting journeys, criss-crossing from one point to the next, creating a thick mass and web of intersecting wool. Their colourful costumes and fishnet stockings mimic the woolen web on the stage floor.

A shift in the tempo of the train-like soundscape and the dancers begin to burrow under their woolen web. It is as though they are moving through chewing gum, with heavy and laboured movements. Trying to move forward, not always succeeding. Trapped under the woolen web, their bodies touch the floor, and the lights dim.

Each dancer keeps struggling through, now with miniature scissors in hand, snipping their way through the woolen web, which eventually becomes a woolen mass of ‘costume’.

Once free from the web having snipped their way through, the dancers unravel a backdrop of African fabrics. A rainbow of colour is revealed. A landscape for movement provided.

After a brief exit, the dancers return with a laptop and Bluetooth speaker. They dance a choreography of appropriated cultures following YouTube tutorials.

Hip-hop, Pansula and South African dance (Ivosho) all precede a quirky foray into the pageantry of Ball culture. Their tongue-in-cheek approach is a refreshing!

Together, they laugh while Xaba brags about how beautiful South Africa is. Hominal realises that there’s an actual audience and that was the goal… after over two years of working under ‘covid conditions’.

Production credits include Choreography by Marie-Caroline Hominal and Nelisiwe Xaba assisted by Sophie Ammann with music by Vincent Bertholet and technical management by Jean-Pierre Potvliege.

[1] The pain we have gone through until now

[2] The journey



JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience

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