JOMBA! 2016 recently presented three breath-taking site-specific performances at the KZNSA Gallery. Artistic director for the festival and UKZN’s Performing Arts lecturer Ms Lliane Loots said, ‘The gallery space offers an alternate kind of challenge to dance makers and for artists who work outside of the traditions of the proscenium arch.’
France’s Ex Nihilo continued their exploitation of everyday open space with a dance performance work called “Calle Obrapia #4”.
Next, one of India’s most controversial contemporary dance makers, Ms Preethi Athreya, also contributed a piece. Moving away from the classism and over-romanticism of tradition, Athreya created a solo that explored the reframing of notions of classism and beauty by presenting the dancing body as an image of itself. Her solo, “Across, not Over” was created for, and performed by, Kathak dancer Mr Vikram Iyengar.
The performance engaged with the fragmentation of the body in an essentially sensorial way. The work drew out the minuscule details of movement to re-present them in newly-assembled poetics. It presented a grammar for the body that allowed for the vulnerability of the dancer to rise to the surface.
The work is a result of a dialogue between two classically-trained dancers from two very different forms of dance. Athreya’s background in bharatanatyam and subsequent body of choreographic work within the contemporary genre met up with the very personal concerns of the performer Iyengar and his deep and continuing relationship with the Kathak form.
In the end, it was a tender and evocative meeting of two dance talents and two dance styles; bharatanatyam and Kathak.
The event was rounded off with a new work by Loots, who partnered again with spoken word maestro Mr Iain Ewok Robinson, Durban’s Kathak expert Mr Manesh Maharaj, filmmaker Ms Karen Logan, and the Flatfoot dancers. Loots created “MIGRATIONS (at the feet of Kali)” for the main gallery space.
This is the second part of Loots’s newest trilogy that looks at issues of “home”. The work can be viewed independently or in the context of the first part “HOMELAND (security)” which was performed in April 2016 by the Flatfoot Dance Company.
‘It is an “in situ” physical journey into the heart of colonial and post-colonial rememberings around the movements and/or migrations of people. Using personal memory as the starting point, this work interfaces with the convergence of Indian and South African histories. It tackled some challenging notions around issues that stirred some controversy,’ explained Loots.