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IT’S taken about five years of talks and processes to get them here, but the Chicago-based Deeply Rooted Dance Theatre Company will finally grace the Jomba! Contemporary Dance Festival.
This will also mark the first edition of Jomba! (now in its 15th year) hosting a US company.
Tonight caught up with Iega Jeff, the artistic director at Deeply Rooted, who explained their involvement in Jomba!
“It was the vision of one of our board members, Lorna Johnson. She lives in New Jersey, but travels and works in South Africa quite often. She happens to be a dance lover. During one of her trips she saw some beautiful dancing there and she had this vision for us to perform at Jomba! She contacted Lliane Loots (Jomba! artistic director) and began the conversation.”
Jeff said the talks really got serious over the past two years and when they finally got the call to say they’d be going to Jomba! it was a great moment.
“Everything worked out. Lliane took it and ran with it, she got involved with the US Consulate in South Africa and it’s finally happened.”
Jeff said for the company it was more than just coming to perform at Jomba!
“Our causes are very much aligned with Flatfoot Dance Company (Durban’s renowned dance company headed by Loots). We both use dance for social change,” he added.
According to a press release, during their time here, Deeply Rooted would spend two weeks in Durban and will be part of Jomba!’s extended dance education and development programme run in conjunction with Flatfoot Dance Company.
They will travel to Flatfoot’s numerous dance programmes run in Umlazi, KwaMashu and Tugela Mouth, shar- ing their dance skills and philosophy with more than 600 young dancers. This will culminate in two performances on the festival’s closing nights on September 7 and 8.
“In a style that oozes memory, and the jazz history of the African-American experience, Deeply Rooted will present choreography that threads together some of their key signature dance works.”
Jeff described their stay as more of a two-way sharing process.
“There is a great deal of information that our dancers will share on our processes and different dance techniques, styles that are inherent in our choreo- graphy. In the same way we’ll be exposed to Flatfoot’s techniques and culture, so we’re going to also be like sponges, just soaking all of this up.”
Jeff explained that in many ways the Deeply Rooted and Flatfoot companies worked in similar fashions in their commu- nity development programmes.
“We do a lot of work in the communities (in Chicago) and in our public school system as well. In the US it’s not that different compared with anywhere else in the world where you have people who have and those who do not have.
“Wherever we go in Chicago, we go where we need to go to strengthen our community so they can deal with the challenge in inequity that we also have here in the US. We are committed to bringing the art form to people to help them self-actualise,” he said.
Jeff added that through their programmes they’ve seen lots of cases of young people who would not have had the opportunity to get into the arts were it not for such programmes.
“This work (in the arts) is powerful and key to how the world will evolve. You never know who you are touching and how they will grow and add to humanity,” he added.
Commenting on their performance on the Jomba! main stage, Jeff said they’d be performing The Dance We Dance, comprised of works from their repertoire, which will give the Jomba! audience a sense of the dances they perform “to communicate the mission of the company”.
“It’s reflections of human experience and specifically the African-American experience as we navigate the plight of Africans, being forced from Africa into slavery and ultimately into the realism of free life through the Civil Rights Movement and other movements that have freed us in this part of the world.
This particular piece we’re bringing examines this human experience through dance. It celebrates the accomplishments so far, but also expresses a vision for a less racial future.
“We’re on a journey of human evolution, so I’m not feeling negative about anything. I just understand that it will take time,” he explained.
• For more details of Deeply Rooted at Jomba! call 031 260 2506 or visit www.cca.ukzn.ac.za
Here’s a glance at some of the highlights at Jomba! 2013:
• Dancers from Holland, Switzerland, America, Portugal and France will be gracing the stage alongside some of South Africa’s cutting-edge dance makers.
• Jomba! hosts the 2013 Standard Bank Young Artist award-winner for dance, Fana Tshabalala, who brings his new work, Indumba. Tshabalala’s dance work is |a poetic encounter with African ritual and contemporary sensibility. Durban-based dancer and choreographer |Desiré Davids joins forces with French-based Hélène Cathala in a soulful duet called B.L.E.N.D. These two experienced artists, one ‘coloured’ and South African, one white and French, share the stage in a confrontation of their divergent histories.
• An unprecedented treat for ballet and neo-classical dance lovers is the featuring of Holland’s magnificent Introdans, renowned for skill and virtuosity. Their programme titled Superstars features five choreographies by five of Holland and Europe’s most influential dance-makers in the form of Anaphase |by Ohad Naharin, Evening Songs by Jirí Kylián, Nacho Duato’s Sinfonía India, Pas |de Danse by Mats Ek and Polish Pieces by the Dutch Maestro Hans van Manen.
• Europe’s finest come to Jomba! in the form of Portuguese dancer Francisco Camacho and his Eira dance company. Camacho, performing on the opening night of Jomba!, brings a hard-hitting solo dance theatre work called The King in Exile.
• Swiss duo T42, made up of dancers Misato Inoue and Félix Duméril, bring their work, singled out for its humour and for allowing space for laughter in battling the misunderstandings between East and West.
• An event collaboration with Durban’s artSPACE Gallery on September 2 sees a one-off evening of site-specific dance work made for an audience who would like an up close and personal encounter with dance. Featuring Musa Hlatshwayo and Vusi Makanya’s latest local dance offerings, the evening also features a specifically created solo by T42’s Swiss dancer Misato Inoue, called Swan. A collection of award-winning short one-minute dance films from all over the globe, curated by Jeannette Ginslov’s ScreenDance Africa, will also be screened.
• The Jomba! Fringe on September 1 and the Youth Fringe on August 31 |see a selection of 10 works staging |on the Fringe. The Youth Fringe takes place at the Wiggins Community Hall |in Cato Manor/Umkhumbane and is a celebration of more than 28 KZN-based youth dance groups.
• Information sourced from the Jomba! festival. Tickets for the festival are R50 or R35 (pupils/ students/pensioners). Booking through Computicket (or at the venue from one hour before the respective show). For the full programme see www.cca.ukzn.ac.za