The Jomba! Contemporary Dance Experience, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, occupies a unique position as a festival rooted in an academic and learning environment. Situated at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Centre for Creative Arts, it is grouped with flagship cultural events like Time of the Writer, the Durban International Film Festival and Poetry Africa. Artistic director Lliane Loots is an artist practising as a choreographer with her Flatfoot Dance Company and is an academic at the university. "We wanted to create a transformative platform that allowed for the growth of dance and understanding of dance," she says. As a nonverbal art form, contemporary dance suffers from a lack of understanding from local funders, and the result is that dance institutions and festivals are on life support. Jomba has operated on the edge of closure for many years. The demise of Dance Umbrella is a great loss to dancers, but the resilience of contemporary dance organisations lik...

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