04 September 2010

Welcome to the House of Gorgeous

Welcome to the House of Gorgeous

Mandisa Haarhoff

Breathtakingly provocative performances with astounding installations took over the night as a variety of artists, musicians, dancers and designers explored the “The Body Politic” at Friday night's RED EYE JOMBA! Audiences and performance artists from across the country found their way to Durban's biggest party of the year at the Durban Art Gallery (DAG). It certainly was all it promised to be, critically brave and entertainingly engaging.

Grappling with issues of gender, masculine identities, the naked body, the diseased, enchained, enslaving and liberated body artists tackled cultural stereotypes in the most provocative yet artistically appealing ways.

To welcome the audience for a vibrant, excitement-packed evening was the I Heart Market, Spitmunky and Ewok who was MC for this glorious event. Goosh-Majesh Productions brought his Kwa-Mashu gumboot crew to set the stage on fire with upbeat gumboot dancing Durban style.

Following them on the opening stage was Tshwane University of Technology dancers with a high- energy ballet, hip-hop, break-dance and pantsula fusion of 'masculine' strength in Esther Nasser’s “What makes a man?” The contrast couldn't have been greater, as the fabulously gorgeous drag artists, led by Flatfoot Dance Company’s Mlondi Zondi, made an entrance. On stage were the Umucyo Cultural Group Rwandan Dancers.

Edward Lloyd's work Dustbin reflected the state of the government as a political body, using a huge teddy bear filled with rubbish to represent the government and a metal sculpture, representing the people, cutting the teddy bear open exposed the misdeeds of our governing body.

The audience could not escape Zondi’s troupe of drag queens who transformed the Black Coffee truck into the house of gorgeous. Thato Oliphant was among the people pulled from the audience into the van (their stage). What took place inside he describes as “the most exciting experience of his life”.

And the Dark-Child Brand explored the controversial question of “how to wear Zulu beadwork?” with a fashion show where the “city” ladies were up against the”farm” girls. And without a doubt, the farm girls took the prize as they showed off the beadwork as adornment for their beautiful naked bodies as opposed to the city lasses who accessorised their evening gowns with it.
The spectacular Kevin Ellis enthralled the audience with his drag performance and opened the gallery doors for more spellbinding action.

The range of works throughout the gallery was powerfully confrontational and amusingly thought-provoking exploring the concept of The Body Politic. Offerings ranged from an art exhibition by the UKZN Centre for Visual Arts which filled gallery four with engaging works by young talented artists, to the round gallery which featured tattoo artists, make-up artists and fearless installations.

Futhi Nzama's poetic voice got the audience nodding and clicking their fingers as she sarcastically re-iterated the lines “woman bear babies and men make them” to firmly stating, “I am man, I am woman!”. Flatfoot Dance Company’s TK Quvane's strong presence kept the audience in awe in her solo performance choreographed by Jabu Siphika. S'fiso Kitsona Khumalo, Sizwe Zulu and Sandile Mkhize left the audience entranced with their powerfully splendid solos.

Kwanele Thusi and Sizwe Hlope's duet 'Circumcised-Spirit' (which I choreographed) , set in front of the Billy Boys sculptures, explored the hotly debated concept of cultural male circumcision. They performed against the backdrop of a painting by Muzi Gigaba and pictures of a circumcision operation and the actual foreskin from the DAG exhibitions set-up by Jenni Stratton.

Without a doubt, the RED EYE JOMBA! left a mark on everyone who was there.

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Jomba! Contemporary Dance Experience