Dance

Review Contemporary Dance Durban: JOMBA 2015

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JombaFaustin

It was 17 years ago that Jomba! first appeared on Durban’s annual calendar of essential creative events. In that time, some of the finest choreographers and dance companies and dancers from all over the globe have illuminated the stage of the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre and burnt deep impressions of what Lliane Loots referred to as her mother tongue: the language of the body. The combination of universality and uniqueness graces dance as one of our primal ways of communication

This year’s opening night was like diving into deep water, or underground caving, or boring the earth’s surface to reach the molten centre. Man’s suffering, and, in particular the suffering of humanity on the African continent, sits at the core of generations of human beings who have paid the heavy price of colonial conquest. Both the profoundly moving pieces witnessed by the audience on opening night explored this theme; a theme which is as old as man and from which no country has escaped.

In 'City of Man, City of God' we watched, astounded, as two powerfully robust bodies explored reaction and response as Adedayo Liadi and Qudus Onikeku from Nigeria sank deep into the heart of their theme. The process of exploration had a spiking tension, beautiful expressed through the throbbing, choppy movements. The deadly game of death and control was played with focussed intention and the incarceration and torment of one man by another magnificently symbolised. And once the premise has been laid bare and the skin stripped - what then? Transformation.  Not instant, not easy, not glib and not faked – but, a deep rising out of a fathomed sink hole, an authentic but cautious metamorphosis that questions the wisdom of the wings.  

Faustin Linyekula from the DCR names himself by his chosen name Kabako, story teller in the true sense of the word. His elegant form, exquisitely attired with devastating simplicity, takes its place behind the microphone, the light placed to catch his gestures and his expressions, until the rest melt into nothingness and only those, with a voice tinged with the douleur  of ages, exists. One leans forward, the way a small child might, to catch the light construction of the piece, a lightness that sits heavy on the heart of the listener. The dancer in Kabako reinterprets the words with a similar lightness that imprints itself like a quick touch of hot iron. When the lights died on this piece, Kabako was drenched in the effort of his telling and the acrid memory of that which he told. And we, if we had been listening, felt inexorably moved.

Jomba! is a festival of mother tongue art, regardless of our language. It sings to the blood, it batters at the heart and it sinks deep into the marrow of the bones. Expose yourself!

Jomba! runs at UKZN’s Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre(and other venues)  until 6 September 2015. For further information visit www.cca.ukzn.ac.za  

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