an international collaboration
JOMBA! Khuluma is a writing residency which takes place during the annual JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience in Durban, South Africa. This initiative began in 2010 as a mentorship program led by veteran dance journalist, Adrienne Sichel. This was where the concept of writing to archive ephemeral history was first taught to our founder who was one of the student writers in the program. In 2015, Clare Craighead joined as a mentor and now facilitates the residency as a global collaboration. At the height of the pandemic JOMBA! went digital and Collab Company was able to bring some of the festival to the UAE where critical discourse, journalistic practice and dance writing are in dire need of refinement. Our collaborators are now an interesting blend of students, dancers, educators, choreographers, journalists and theatre practitioners from all around the world. From South Africa we have Clare Craighead, company manager of Flatfoot Dance Company, joined by long-time Khuluma contributor and facilitator Tammy Ballantyne from The Ar(t)chive (WITS School of the Arts). From the University of East London in the UK we have JOMBA! alumni Dr Sarahleigh Castelyn who lectures in the School of Arts and Creative Industries. From the UAE, we are joined by Lauren Noble who participated in the inaugural Khuluma writing residency and is now the creative director of a UAE-based theatre organisation called Collab Company. Applications for JOMBA! 2024 are now open.
"Did I know back then the impact it would have on my life? Not at all. It has taken me years of retrospection to acknowledge that JOMBA! is partly responsible for my work with Collab Company right here in Dubai. You see, I'm seeking to ignite the same spark that JOMBA! fanned into a flame in me back then. I mean, seriously?! To have been raised in an artistic community like the one that produces JOMBA! every year. To still make full use of the skills I was gifted as a student in my work as a director, a scriptwriter, a journalist, an educator. To look through a programme of works and realise with a surge of fierce Durban pride that JOMBA! is a festival that sets the bar for everything I experience now, and is exactly why my standards are so damn high. To be able to revisit this passionate, inclusive, educational, inspirational community every year... bringing others along with me into its warm, warm embrace. Wouldn't you be seeking that, too?" ~ Lauren Noble, 25th JOMBA!
the (im)possibility of home
"It is no wonder, that the arts sector has been amongst the most bludgeoned in our recent history. Artists work "to add something of their own" into our world, to add stories that remind us – sometimes kindly and sometimes with voracious loud voices – that we are connected, that our sense of self emerges from our social belonging. Art teaches us - reminds us - to fight political disempowerment and social alienation by grasping for shared meaning. As Arendt says, “for the confirmation of my identity, I depend entirely upon other people”. I return to the words of Roque Dalton that “our veins don’t end in our bodies, but in our unanimous blood”. And for a dancer I can think of no better analogy than the idea of the skin being a very porous border that viscerally connects us to a space and place of adding something to our common world." ~Lliane Loots, JOMBA! 2022 opening address
"How does one start?
When there is so much to say and so little time to say it?
Some even ask:
What is the point?
After all, the people have been speaking out for some time:
26 minutes for 34 Marikana stories?
2 minutes for 69 Sharpeville stories?
10 seconds for 9 Bree Street stories?
Can I say all I must say in just a few minutes?
Can I say it in such a way that you all understand?
To those who ask:
What is the point?
Here is the point:
and 69 people
and 9 people who can now never be heard."
~ Listen by Bibars Murad
"A body begins to writhe and pulsate in the corner of a room. Shrouded in darkness, there is just enough light to see the form of dancer and choreographer, Jabu Siphika, and yet not enough to see her as an individual. She is Everywoman. Everywomxn. Ya Kutosha tackles the theme of gender-based violence in a way that reaches through the screen, clutches your heart and squeezes the air out of your lungs. That mask she wears is heavy and not just because it signifies COVID but because of the additional burden it has placed upon those trapped, indefinitely, in the most dangerous of spaces in South Africa: the home.
Grief, anxiety and stillness were amongst the definitions that punctuated Fellow… by Kristi-Leigh Gresse who sought to explore the state of mind of the artist in isolation. And of the variety of considerations it was the deafening silence that held me in a vice-like grip and would not let go! From the moment an all-seeing eye enters the frame to the moment just before a reimagining, the resoundingly noiseless sense of isolation was an impactful creative choice. A monotony of everyday existence that feels like a shadow of your former life. This pandemic has forced us all to wait for Godot. Some of us are still waiting. But the silence shifts, as Gresse reminds us, and we will breathe freely again." ~ Lauren Noble, Dissections of Domesticity