The woman redefining dance in South Africa

The woman redefining dance in South Africa
jackï job

Standing starkly in the centre of a dimly lit stage, alongside a baby grand piano and its player, is a figure in an unexpected pose. With her twisted limbs and contorted body, she looks, at first glance, to be in pain – but slow, rhythmic pulses reveal profound intention.

The woman is jackï job, and she is performing the latest iteration of her award-winning dance series And Then… together with classical pianist and longtime collaborator José Dias.

Dr jackï job is a dancer and choreographer, theatre-maker and director, producer, and academic researcher at the University of Cape Town (UCT). Her impressive career spans over 30 years of discovery and creation on stages worldwide. At the centre of her lifelong craft is a personal journey: ‘To dance, question, investigate … create work at the global cutting edge, and forge connections, collaborations and exchanges with artists on national and international levels.’

In the late 1980s, jackï job trained in contemporary dance before becoming a member of Jazzart Dance Theatre in 1991. She began her independent career in 1994, and the work she did in the years that followed informed and evolved her eclectic style: community-based teaching; founding and directing dance companies; creating and choreographing numerous productions; living for eight years in Tokyo, Japan, as a dancer, choreographer and teacher; and completing her PhD and lecturing at UCT, before becoming an associate professor in 2023.

One of the key features of jackï job’s career is her pioneering of the Butoh dance style on the African continent. Introduced to the avant-garde dance form – traditionally performed in white body makeup, with slow, hyper-controlled motion – during her time in Tokyo, she became famous for her unique, polished Butoh-inspired dance style when she returned to South Africa.

The latest step in jackï job’s career marked by exploration is the And then… production. The award-winning duo of dancer and pianist takes audiences on a hypnotising, compelling journey that explores the relationship between human and animal. ‘For me,’ she says, ‘the praying mantis is a symbol of timelessness, its subtle, rhythmic movements a representation of hypnotic tenacity. And Then…  is an organic journey of desire, compassion, acceptance and love.’

Catch jackï job and José Dias in And Then… between 29 November and 2 December 2023 at the Artscape Theatre in Cape Town.

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