Room-inations on Inner Spaces
By Thobile Maphanga
An unfamiliar feeling of sitting on mom’s bed as JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience opens with a welcome from Dr. Ismail Mahomed, Director of the Centre for Creative Arts, and the opening address from Dr. Lliane Loots, Festival Director. In pyjamas and not in a theatre, this is definitely weird, but is it entirely terrible?
The evening’s programme, themed Intimacies of Isolation, showcased nine commissioned films by Durban-and-Pietermaritzburg-based dancemakers. There is a darkness that sits within most of the work on offer, all seeking light, only a few capturing it. It is a journey into the inner crevices of mind, body and spirit.
Jabu Siphika’s Ya Kutosha deals with the urgent issue of gender-based violence that is extinguishing female lives at an alarming rate in South Africa. Her work brings us into the inner sanctum of the fear faced by women. A safe haven is turned crime scene where death finds its home. A haunting image of a slowly closing fridge and the last kicks of hanging legs as the soundscape brings us back to the introductory dripping of what we now imagine could be blood and the crackling sound of fire.
Sifiso Khumalo confronts the same topic in Walls. This father-daughter duet is a prayer for the safety and happiness of his daughter in these frightening times. Lethiwe Nzama delivers a sophisticated performance of childlike innocence and adolescent awareness of the realities of the world.
Kristi-Leigh Gresse’s black and white, silent montage of gestures and confined movement unsettles as she struggles to find stillness in Fellow…. Control is replaced by contorted squirming on a backdrop of childlike wallpaper as definitions of adult emotions are offered. The contrast of a clean, cinematically shot film is juxtaposed with the feeling of wanting to scream “why is the silence so loud?”. Then relief at the natural sounds of life outdoors, a swing and a prompt to breathe.
Prayer and meditation are at the centre of Nomcebisi Moyikwa’s very visceral, U n g a n y a k u m. This interdisciplinary film shifts between the present and presence layering text, breath and prayer over a funeral soundtrack. A meeting with your inner spirit, seeking absolution in the presence of the present.
Tegan Peacock’s Control Alt Delete feels like stepping into an animated movie where the absurdity of inanimate objects becoming friends that disturb the monotony of control seems totally normal.
Tshediso Kabulu and Motlasi Khotle prepare for battle in the never-ending struggle for support from those who ‘have’ for those who ‘have not’. The soundtrack by Anelisa Stuurman and text by Khwezi Becker fittingly carry this duet in Space of Colour.
Leagan Peffer’s Kairos, set in a seaside log cabin, is a torturous solo expedition of picking through the debris of love lost to re-find and reclaim self.
Whereas Sandile Mkhize’s Time affirms an amiable view of care and relationship, in a ritual of purging and negotiating boundaries of red tape with those that walk with us.
The programme closes with a delicate duet between friends and flora. Kirsty Ndawo and Zinhle Nzama’s presence amid the dancing foliage becomes silhouettes that bow in unison, moving together and apart as their interaction is tracked by their passing of a flower, seated side by side on a bench. Shadow feels like the sun on your face on a winter’s afternoon, knowing that everything will be ok.
The nine Digital JOMBA! Edge works are available at http://www.jomba.ukzn.ac.za for the duration of the festival. Don’t miss Deeply Rooted Dance Theater’s works on the Digital JOMBA! Legacy platform this afternoon at 12:00 (SAST) and look out for Gregory Vuyani Maqoma’s “Exit/Exist” at 7pm (SAST) tonight!