Sandile Mkhize and Cue Ngema perform in Mkhize’s “Time” as part of the JOMBA! Digital Edge platform

Pungent symbolism and bodies as protest

At the virtual opening of the 22nd (Digital) JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience, Artistic Director, Dr. Lliane Loots, stated: “For us as artists to journey into the imaginative terrain, memory becomes our map and metaphor for a very active process of recreation — memory is active and it is doing”. JOMBA! has curated seven platforms for the digital festival, and Loots states that these platforms will provide an archive with dance memories that is accessible to all. JOMBA! in its 21-year history has taken a step back to re-imagine memory and keep dance alive!

Exploring the theme of “Intimacies of Isolation” the Digital Edge programme presented nine works from KZN dancemakers who received grants to create these new pieces.

Jabu Siphika’s Ya Kutosha is an intimate exploration embedded with provocative imagery that provides us insight into gender-based violence while “trapped in the home”. The piece is pungent with symbolism and makes use of the body as a form of protest.

Sandile Mkhize and Cue Ngema in Time, choreographed by Mkhize, leads us on an insightful nostalgic journey of histories, forefathers, revolution and re-centering ourselves and humanity during a global pandemic. Time transposes us from one point in time to another through a synchronized narrative.

Kairos, choreographed by Leagan Peffer and edited by Nthuthuko Mbatha is a piece that presents the complexities and intricacies that life brings through the juxtaposition of the body’s space and form. We are taken between the different emotions of love, anger, loss and failure through the body and its frame.

Nomcebisi Moyikwa’s U n g a n y a k u m, featuring text by Mlondiwethu Dubazane, Khwezi Becker and Yanelisa Mbana begins with a prayer song in isiZulu synonymous with funeral gatherings. It is a meditative piece that engages with “silence-demonstrated by bland spaces”. An intriguing piece that aims to question “what it means to insist not to die”.

Kristi-Leigh Gresse’s Fellow… leads us into the state of mind of an artist in isolation; it’s a fascinating piece that carries repetition and the idea of the maze throughout the work. There is a feeling of displacement and uncertainty as the performance evolves.

Walls by Sifiso Kitsona Khumalo and his daughter, Lethiwe Zamantungwa Nzama, provides us with a look at an intimate demonstration of a father-daughter relationship even with the ‘walls’ set up by Covid-19 restrictions. Embedded in this exploration is the crippling reality of his daughter’s coming of age in a society drenched in a plague of violence and harm, the fear of this from her father is prevalent.

Tegan Peacock’s Control-Alt-Delete is a witty short film animated by Jono Hornby that presents navigating “control or the loss of it”. The compilation of the images and videos mimic the action of deleting and altering on a computer screen. It encapsulated both the body’s agency and digital manipulation.

Space of Colour offers an intricate scrutiny of the dynamics of power and status driven by race in a SA context. It is a thought-provoking piece that challenges the polarities that exists in the society. Performed by dancers Tshediso Kabulu and Motlatsi Khotle, the poetry is by Khwezi Becker and music by Anelisa Stuurman.

Shadow, performed by Zinhle Nzama and Kirsty Ndawo is a heart-warming and intimate look at friendship and the validations of having someone there for you in a period where skin contact is prohibited under Covid-19 restrictions.

The JOMBA! Digital Edge platform is open for the duration of the festival and is available free to view at . Coming up at 12:00 (SAST) tomorrow afternoon, catch Deeply Rooted Dance Theater’s programme on the JOMBA! Legacy platform. All JOMBA! events are free to stream, see the JOMBA! website for screening times and durations and details of the programme and works that will be streamed.

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