Jomba! Masihambisane Dialogues, an online Contemporary Dance Conference hosted by the University of KwaZulu Natal(UKZN) Centre for Creative Arts’ JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience is calling for the submission of abstracts for its 2024 edition which takes place from 22 to 24 May.

The theme this year is (Re)Turn To The Drum which looks into contemporary dance’s engagements with traditions, cultures, memory, hybridity, and contested identities.

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“With the title ‘(re)turn to the drum’, we want to provoke discussion with/ by/ on contemporary dance and its makers about how ideas of culture and tradition are being – and could be – negotiated and reimagined,” explains JOMBA! curator and dialogues chair, Dr Lliane Loots (UKZN).

“Traditional dance forms are often seen as a set fixed embodiment of cultural heritage and historical narratives.

“Passed down through generations (sometimes as oral traditions) these dances are narrated and embodied in ways that see them encapsulate the often-nostalgic memories of past cultural values, rituals, and beliefs.

“Whether this is ballet, the rhythmic beats of flamenco, the storytelling of Bharatanatyam, or the powerful stamping of Ndlamu and Ngoma.”

Jomba! Masihambisane is interested in engaging the ideas and provocations and is especially interested in critical discussions in dance studies that engage/problematise definitions and debates of meaning within terms like tradition, culture, hybridity, and contested identities; critical discussion/analysis of dancers and choreographers whose work; bridges-, engages-, confronts tradition, culture and the contemporary world; critical dance engagement with feminist, decolonial and postcolonial challenges to the idea of hybridity and cultural exchanges.

The conference also looks to unpack how diasporic contemporary dance practices engage ideas of cultural appropriation, belonging, and identity in performance-making; and discussions of, and by, dancers and choreographers using traditional spirituality and spiritual practices to negotiate/engage/confront contemporary ways of being.

The steering committee includes Lliane Loots (UKZN, SA), Thobile Maphanga (UKZN, SA), David Thatanelo April (UP, SA), Sarahleigh Castelyn (UEL, UK), Yvette Hutchison (Warwick Uni, UK), Clare Craighead (DUT, SA). Mbongeni Mtshali (UCT, SA) and Gift Marovatsanga (UKZN, SA).

Full details of the criteria and how to submit can be found at this link.

The deadline for submissions is 5 April at 4 pm.

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