By Silindile Hlengwa and Vedarsha Singh (Guest Writers)
The body. Unrivalled in its ability to serve for the intention of memory. Equally, we marvel in its ability to hold space to imagine, and cast us into the future. In the performance of On Earth I’m Done Part 1: Mountains, we encounter Suelem de Oliveira da Silva’s harrowing solo that explores the disconnected darkness of our earth’s present. Choreographed by Jefta van Dinther, these two voices have co-created a necessarily unpleasant and screeching call to action.
As the tectonic plates shift under the feet of her dancing body, we are jarred, grated and feel the unrelenting heat of friction and chaos. Engulfed by the techno-soundscape carefully considered by David Kiers, it traps us in a vibrating orb of electronica. Suffocated by man-made constructs, the work seemingly offers no resolution. There is no euphoria in a collective purge of emotions. Nothing but the sinking realisation of cause and effect.
As Suelem de Oliveira da Silva squats, pushes and pulls on an iron lever, through a staccato sequence you are transported into the echoing vastness of a dark dystopian womb where shadow and light, breath and spoken word become an extension of what is: a technologically charged pathway into a desolate abyss. The very slight of movement screams disturbance, and plunges you deeper into a painful isolation of angles, silhouettes and emptiness. The work forces you to sit in the knowing of what has become a painful reality; we were once connected to the very cord of life and try as we might to return, what we have become is too alien, too disjointed, self-serving, proud — apart.
Jonatan Winbo’s lighting design assists in architecting a space in which you feel the suffocating heaviness of an isolated human condition. We are rulers of a void and prisoners by choice. Swimming in a sea of greed and our insatiable lust for power and control, we long for the shore of our natural world, our natural voice. And in all this the world she continues- and we remain broken.
The urgency of this work’s aesthetic deeply questions our role as the earth’s ‘highest intellectual form of life’. Are we? What’s clear is something MUST change. Perhaps then, the invitation is to disconnect from the flurry of stimuli and make time for stillness, reflection. To detoxify, and reconnect with our ability to imagine and create. To grab onto an umbilical cord and pull ourselves into a new world, a new way of being- and perhaps this is the world that JOMBA! Artistic Director- Lliane Loots (described in her opening address), can hear breathing on a quiet day.
On Earth I’m Done Part 1: Mountains screens at 19:00 cat on 1 September at https://www.YouTube.com/Jomba_Dance.
The CCA’s JOMBA! 2021 runs from 24 August to 5 September and can be navigated free of charge via the website www.jomba.ukzn.ac.za or subscribe to the JOMBA YouTube channel here: https://www.YouTube.com/Jomba_Dance
A full programme is available via the website.