“One-One-One” performed by Ioannis Mandafounis and Emilia Giudicelli as part of the closing triple-bill of JOMBA! 2018. Photography by Val Adamson.

By Lauren Warnecke

A day of rain did not keep Ioannis Mandafounis and Emilia Giudicelli from dancing in the driveway outside the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre for the finale to the 20th season of JOMBA! For die hard festival goers, we’d seen this performance already at the Durban Art Gallery (DAG) the night before, though “One-One-One” is never the same twice.

Mandafounis and Giudicelli (Geneva, Switzerland) invite two audience members to sit in a chair — one for each of them — and ask them to simply make eye contact, standing up and leaving if or when they feel uncomfortable or bored. This is…


Aida Colmenero Diaz perform her solo “Aka Nativa” one last time at the close of JOMBA! today. Photography by Val Adamson.

A review of Aȉda Colmenero Diaz and Haja Saranouffi by Marcia Mzindle

The 20th annual JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience is drawing to a close. Choreographers from around the world and locally, together, gave an offering that ignited a fire in our hearts. We bathed in issues of identity, feminism, culture, religion and the politics of our daily lives, challenging us to look deeper than the surface. Indeed, it has been an experience celebrating diversity, spirituality and hope, but mostly community. Further resonating are the words of the artistic director Lliane Loots shared on the opening night in stating that community has the power to suspended fear, cross borders and break down walls.


Ioannis Mandafounis and Emilia Giudicelli perform their intriguing “One-One-One” outside the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre on a rainy evening. Photography by Val Adamson.

A review of ‘One-One-One’, ‘Aka Nativa’ and ‘Dance des Bouteilles’ by Saranya Devan

Bearing the cold and rainy weather, a few Durbanites managed to make their way to the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre last night for the final evening performance of JOMBA! 2018.

Situated in the cordoned off parking lot outside the entrance to the theatre, “One-One-One,” performed by Ioannis Mandafounis (Switzerland) and Emilia Giudicelli, is a one-on-one conversation through eye-contact with the spectator, by which the dancer takes inspiration from your eyes whilst you are seated in front of them.

Although I got a chance to be in the ‘hot seat’ of the work at the Durban Art Gallery on Friday night, last…


“One-One-One” at DAG. Photography by Val Adamson.

Our resident writers respond to JOMBA! @ DAG

Editor’s note: The JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience left the friendly confines of the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre Friday for a roaming performance at the Durban Art Gallery at City Hall. Dubbed JOMBA! @ DAG, students in the JOMBA! dance writing residency were tasked with describing their experiences witnessing five immersive works scattered throughout DAG’s galleries. Visitors were permitted to wander between performances, coming and going as they pleased, giving our students the opportunity to “choose their own adventures.” …


“Aslama” Choreographed by Yaseen Manuel, assisted by Sifiso Khumalo. Photography by Val Adamson.

A review of ‘Aslama’ and ‘The Longitude of Silence’ by Sizwe Hlophe

Last night (6 September 2018) witnessed Unmute Dance Company (CPT) in collaboration with the Flatfoot Dance Company exhibiting two astonishing pieces at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre on the JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience platform.

“Aslama” is a piece that is conceptualized and choreographed by Yaseen Manuel, assisted by Flatfoot’s Sifiso Khumalo. In this piece, the audience walks in to take their seats with a stage already loaded with meaning. Under a spot light, downstage right, a man (Manuel) wearing traditional Islamic clothes is seated on a black rectangular block with white Arabic writing on it. The man wore a white long…


Musa Hlatshwayo’s “Udodana” performed as part of the JOMBA! Festival. Photography by Val Adamson.

A review of Musa Hlatshwayo’s “Udodana” by Siphokazi Sotsaka

“Udodana”: An interesting title which revolves around a group of male acknowledgement of African traditions in the modern world. “Udodana” is performed as part of the JOMBA! festival in commemoration of choreographer Musa Hlatshwayo’s late family members, evidenced by flowers. A projection shows the other version of male characters in a different world or society, based on his past and present experiences.

Hlatshwayo does not just create dance, he is a visual artist; he combines different elements including videos, music, text and he also sings. He is very protective of his…


Musa Hlatshwayo’s “Udodana” performed at JOMBA! on 5th September. Photography by Val Adamson.

A review of Musa Hlatshwayo by Marcia Mzindle

We continued the week still in high spirits of celebrating two decades of JOMBA! on Tuesday, 5th of September. Drawing from memory, lived experience, current incidents and personal testimonies, 2018 Standard Bank Young Artist Award Winner, KZN-based choreographer Musa Hlatshwayo presented “Udodana” at the Sneddon Theatre, received by a standing ovation.

Hlatshwayo opened up about his process for his current work “Udodana,” sharing that it’s comprised of research from his background, research on the body and studying body language in order to be able to transfer that knowledge found into a bodily (dance) language leading to inception of “Udodana.”

White…


Yaseen Manuel of Unmute Dance Company performing in “Aslama” on the JOMBA! 2017 Fringe. Photography by Val Adamson.

A reflection on Unmute and Flatfoot Dance by Tammy Ballantyne

I write this as purely subjective observations of a studio showing of two works to be presented on JOMBA! later this week: “The Longitude of Silence”, a collaboration between Unmute’s Andile Vellem and Flatfoot’s Lliane Loots and the dancers, and “Aslama” by Yaseen Manuel of Unmute for Flatfoot.

As I sat on the floor of the dance studio, I recalled my own training here years ago — how those seeds planted then grew in me, gave me the tools with which to write, analyse, execute and perform with a deep sense of myself and how I could go further than…


Kristi-Leigh Gresse performs her solo “Blank” at JOMBA! On The Edge. Photography by Val Adamson. Lighting by Julie Ballard (Chicago, USA).

By Lauren Warnecke

Eleven days ago, I dipped my toes into the Indian Ocean for the first time. Standing on the edge of a continent that’s not mine, I felt a long way from home. But as I sat in the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre on Tuesday at JOMBA!’s On the Edge platform, the shores of Lake Michigan didn’t seem quite so far away.

What a terrible pun.

What I’m trying to say is, JOMBA! has provided me a window into the dance scene in Durban, and while there’s something unique and special happening here, sitting in plush seat, in a…


Kristi-Leigh Gresse in “Blank” at JOMBA! On The Edge. Photography by Val Adamson. Lighting by Julie Ballard (Chicago, USA).

A review of JOMBA! On the Edge by Sanam Sitaram

The three performances on the 2018 JOMBA! On the Edge platform prove that there is no shortage of dance talent in KZN. Both conceptually and performatively compelling, each work engaged in various aspects of identity. These voices and perspectives are often what draw us to contemporary and experimental dance, and leave us in awe when the execution is equally as bold.

The trilogy of dances took us on a journey, beginning with “Classi_fied,” JC Zondi’s exploration of class, culture, gender and status. The work cleverly makes use of items of clothing as a vehicle through which these ideas are conveyed…

Lauren Warnecke

Chicago-based dance writer and critic

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