The fringe is an exciting space. In optics, the term ‘fringe’ points to the visible that is a product of oscillations and interferences- that which is seen carries with it the marks of motion, destabilises clean correlations, creates a critical confusion, prompts the confrontation of contradictions. Appropriately, the Jomba! Fringe provides a place for critical experimentation, for tentative voices to be heard, for the abandonment of momentums of monoculture, for choreographers to kaleidoscopically cut their teeth on other movements. The 15th Jomba! Contemporary Dance Experience embodied this through rich and varied offerings, spilling from stage in creation of inadvertently unselfconscious interactions between performers and audience members- spontaneous reactions produced in an atmosphere of loosened playfulness rather than one of stuffy reverence. Invented (and more, and less) were; subtleties and spectacles, supplements and symposiums, sorrows and celebrations, monsters, monstrations, products and processes, ticks, technologies, banalities, florescences, embarrassments.
Particularly evocative and affecting for me was ‘Law of Bond-Age’ choreographed and danced by Finch Thusi from the Forgotten Angle Theatre Collaborative, and ‘Foragers’ choreographed by Sifiso Khumalo from the Flatfoot Dance Company, danced by the Flatfoot Training Company. This being said, there were a number of other interesting experimentations which, in all honesty, cannot be done justice through the limits of this review. In attempt to address some of these silences, these included: Themba Mbuli’s ‘Dark Cell’, JC Zondi’s ‘The Butterfly Effect’, Annie Kloppenberg’s ‘Autobiography according to my iPhone’, and Bonwa Mbontsi and Tegan Peacock’s ‘Between a Thought and a Collision’.
In the programme note to ‘Law of Bond-Age,’ Thusi states “All I could see were my father’s shoes. All I could hear was a voice of a human ghost, and a birth of a hybrid animal. Rest in flesh is what I desire. But my body disappears into the ground. As you crumble into the thoughts of the past. You have consumed every piece of flesh. Left naked. My body is possessed by several voices. I offer you my bones with hope that you mould it into another human kind. I cannot be said to exist.” This piece was fitful flux of formation, the cry of a complex human creature, battling between the space of here and there; occupying the excruciating disjuncture between experiential reality and the clean cut-conceptions imagined in expectations of self and of other. Wanting to be what one cannot become; to fit within a space too small and clean to contain the confusion of complicated and convoluted encounters with the world. Thusi performed in a large smart coat, protectively preventing vulnerability, buffering gaze, but also, at times, gaping open to skin, allowing for aching exposure. His body contorted, was made foreign, inappropriate vessel, in painfully awkward angles and arches, always in and out of place to beats of many times, emitted from a multitude of metronomes. A presence sat off centre, smart and serene, oblivious to the struggle flaring beside him; unable to see, to hear, to properly regard, despite a palpable desperation playing out at his elbow. As the second production by the Forgotten Angle Theatre Collaborative at the 15th Jomba! Contemporary Dance Experience, ‘Law of Bond-Age,’ added to the intensely intimate emerging from extraordinarily brave individuals, offering up all, giving of their bones unbound.
Sifiso Khumalo’s ‘Foragers’ offered rushes and swarms, chaos and clashes, a frantic searching for something- the failure to find footing, a step taken when no step is there- played out in a violent inventiveness. Uninhibited ‘fuck!’ and fall, the fallible and operatic in a multitude of bodies exiting and entering into relationships where suffocation and support were deeply intertwined. Waves of movement knotted and frayed, were clapped, stamped, angled and extended out in a language of movement I haven’t quite seen before. There were no barrel jumps to be found: rather, the utterly refreshing intensity of an effort to create a new language; one more appropriate to the heart, in all of its complicated rhythms, in experience of each calm and quickening of pulse, cumulatively carried in and through the limits of the body. ‘Foragers’ offered a vision, a powerful dissolution of demarcations, a blur of interior in contact with exterior, and a stretch in expressive possibilities that has left me incredibly exited for the work emerging from both Sifiso Kumalo and the Flatfoot Dance Company.