4th ‘JOMBA! Masihambisane Dialogues’ explores the impact of modern dance on society

A JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience production on stage. Picture: Supplied.

A JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience production on stage. Picture: Supplied.

Published May 21, 2024


The arts fraternity from around the world will come together for a three-day dance conference, which is set to delve into vital discussions around contemporary identities in dance-making.

The fourth annual “JOMBA! Masihambisane Dialogues” online conference, hosted by the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Centre for Creative Arts, will take place from Wednesday, May 22, to Friday, May 24.

This conference is set to feature choreographers, academics, dancers, educators and researchers from 11 countries.

They will include representatives from South Africa, Brazil, Canada, Cape Verde, France, Germany, the UK, America and Zimbabwe.

Under the theme “(Re)turn to the Drum?”, the conference seeks to examine the ways in which modern dance interacts with individuals and society as a whole.

“The event sets out to engage scholarship, pedagogy, and practices into negotiating the intersections (easy and uneasy) of culture, tradition, history, and memory in contemporary dance-making, performance and scholarship,” organisers explained.

“In ‘(Re)turn to the Drum’, we ask and provoke discussions with/by/on contemporary dance-makers whose dance work intersects with negotiated ideas of culture and tradition.”

Dr Mbongeni Mtshali, a performance-maker, scholar, artist and educator from the University of Cape Town will deliver the keynote address.

This will follow a discussion with dance-focused academics, researchers and practitioners.

Dr Mbongeni Mtshali. Picture: Supplied

Other keynote dialogues will be held by Dada Masilo, a South African dancer and choreographer, who is renowned for her unique and innovative interpretations of classical ballets.

South African-born export, Robyn Orlin, an internationally-celebrated contemporary choreographer, dancer and teacher will also address the gathering.

Mamela Nyamza, an award-winning choreographer and dancer who is acclaimed globally for her innovative and deeply inter-sectional and political dance-making, is one of the speakers.

Meanwhile, Canadian-born Dena Davida will introduce “Turba”, a new journal that negotiates histories of the study as well as the practice of live arts curation.

Dena Davida. Picture: Supplied

In addition, Thobile Maphanga will chair an intriguing panel featuring Albert Ibokwe Khoza (South Africa), Djam Neguin (Cape Verde) and Lorin Sookool (South Africa).

The panellists will explore if there is a shared zeitgeist among these contemporary African artists which is inspiring them to unearth “past” narratives and represent them in their audacious ways.

Important conversations on modern identity and how it connects to imagined and actual histories as they converge with culture and tradition in dance-making, are sparked by papers, online interactions and additional conversations, will also be held throughout the three-day online event.

Some of these papers and engagements will be presented by a host of expert representatives.

They include Alexandra Gonçalves Dias, a dance artist and professor at UFPEL in Brazil, with a dedicated focus on decolonising narratives and Fabrice Mazliah, a choreographer and performer/dancer based in Germany/Switzerland, who has initiated long-term research into embodied knowledge and the heritage inscribed into dance practitioners.

Others include Francesca Matthys, a South African interdisciplinary dance artist, writer, facilitator and Kundalini yoga teacher based in London in the UK; Kristi-Leigh Gresse, a South African dancer and choreographer known for her transformative impact on the arts and Tatenda Kanengoni, a Zimbabwean writer, researcher, and multimedia storyteller, among others.

Fabrice Mazliah, a choreographer and performer/dancer based in Germany/Switzerland. Picture: Supplied

The conference will be streamed live on the JOMBA! YouTube channel.

Participants will present on Zoom and those who wish to apply to join in the “Zoom Room”, can contact Thobile Maphanga at [email protected].

For more information, visit: https://jomba.ukzn.ac.za/masihambisane-dialogues/.

“Comedy Club”

Durban theatre doyen Aaron McIlroy’s latest one-man show, “Comedy Club – the Final Comedy Frontier” boldly goes where no show has gone before.

Conceived and written by the same team that brought you “Classical Comedy”, Darren King and McIlroy seeks to leave no stone unturned in their quest to tickle the funny bone..

In this comedy marathon, McIlroy’s schizophrenic artistic talents are stretched to their limits.

The setting is an international comedy venue and McIlroy portrays a wild selection of eclectic comedians from around the globe.

These new comedic characters will have you in fits of laughter and McIlroy dangerously close to a straitjacket and electro-shock therapy.

Where: The Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

When: Currently on until May 26.

Cost: R195 per person and R175 for scholars and pensioners. Tickets can be purchased at Webtickets or at Pick n Pay and Boxer Stores.