JOMBA! Opening Night offers Stunning Contemporary DanceGeneral

JOMBA! Opening night performances.JOMBA! Opening night performances.

UKZN’s Centre for Creative Arts (CCA) within the College of Humanities had a successful opening night of the 18th JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience at the packed Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre.

Speaking at the event CCA Director Mr David wa Maahlamela said, ‘People say some of the festivals run by the CCA are the largest in the African continent, but in such assessment, they fail to realise that CCA is one of the few centres in the entire globe, if not the only, to run more than one successful annual festival. We truly pride ourselves with the great legacy of JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience as one of the contributions in turning Durban into the artistic and creative face of the continent.’

On offer for opening night was a performance piece by duet MAMAZA, a young award-winning Swiss company. They brought a tender and viscerally challenging duet that places the two ex-Forsythe dancers in a reflecting stage space that sees their lives connect and re-connect in an endless algorithm of what two people can be, with visions and echoes of themselves.

France’s Company Ex Nihilo also featured on opening night, offering a site-responsive dance work for the audience. Ex Nihilo, based in Marseilles, create dance “interventions” around a desire to regard shared public spaces as a work place, as they embrace spatial history, never excluding the passer-by and spectator.

‘We are particularly proud to host dance companies like Ex Nihilo who are breaking down the traditional barriers that often exist in theatre spaces,’ said Artistic Director of JOMBA! and Performing Arts Lecturer at UKZN, Ms Lliane Loots.

Loots gave the keynote address on opening night.  Her speech touched on gender parity and decolonisation, while also reflecting on the longevity of 18 years of embodied danced rebellion against the effects of the Imperialist cultural bomb.

‘This Festival makes a dedicated effort to invite and partner with organisations, artists and dance companies who are using the voice of their physical art form to break down stereotypes, to address embodied histories and memory, who physically deconstruct socially and culturally defined ways of being inside one’s skin, and who also, sometimes, decolonise a theatre space by asking you to watch dance in another site.’

‘We fight, through JOMBA!’s dedicated space of serious contemporary dance-making, against being seduced into thinking that dance only consists of dance reality competition shows on television that promise the winner fame and fortune. We fight against being uninterested by the demands of contemporary art and dance because it asks us to think and feel and listen - and sweat.  We fight thus against participating in the slow death of critical arts; and with this, the death of our resistance,’ said Loots. 

JOMBA! runs till September 4 at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre, Pieter Scholtz Open Air Theatre and KZNSA Gallery. Tickets are priced between R45 and R60 and are available at Computicket or at the venue an hour before the show. For more information and a full downloadable programme, visit

Melissa Mungroo