Born in Mutare, Zimbabwe and based in NYC, nora chipaumire has been challenging and embracing stereotypes of Africa and the black performing body, art, and aesthetic. She is a graduate of the University of Zimbabwe’s School of Law and holds an M.A. in Dance and M.F.A. in Choreography & Performance from Mills College. She has studied dance in Africa, Cuba, Jamaica, and the U.S. and has performed her works worldwide. Chipaumire is a 2016 Foundation for Contemporary Arts grant recipient and a 2015 Doris Duke Artist. She was a Hodder Fellow at Princeton University in 2014-2015, 2012 Alpert Award in the Arts recipient and 2011 United States Artist Ford Fellow. chipaumire is a three-time New York Dance and Performance (aka “Bessie”) Awardee: in 2014 for the revival of her solo Dark Swan set as an ensemble piece on Urban Bush Women (UBW), in 2008 for her dance-theater work, Chimurenga, and in 2007 for her body of work with UBW—where she was a featured performer for six years and Associate Artistic Director in 2007-2008. She was a MANCC Choreographic Fellow in 2007-2008: 2009 and 2015 and was awarded the 2007 Mariam McGlone Emerging Choreographer Award from Wesleyan University Center for the Arts. Her work has been reviewed by The New York Times, Le Monde, Johannesburg Sunday Times, and supported by the MAP Fund, the Jerome Foundation, NYFA B.U.I.L.D., National Dance Project, NYSCA, The Joyce Theater Foundation with support from the Rockefeller Foundation’s Cultural Innovation Fund, and the National Endowment for the Arts. nora has also been featured in several dance films including Cassa Cassa (dir. Elodie Lefebvre, 2011) nora (Dir. Alla Kogan and David Hinton, 2009). She made her directorial debut in spring 2016 with Afro Promo #1: Kinglady commissioned by Dance for Film on Location at Montclair State University. Her current and ongoing projects include chicken farming in Burkina Faso and creating “living archives” with contemporary dancers in Harare, Zimbabwe.
THE QUEEN V. NEHANDA
(World Premiere, Fall 2020)
conceived | choreographed by nora chipaumire
The Queen v. Nehanda is an African opera based on the story of Nehanda, a Zimbabwean spirit of the Shona people. In the body of Charwe Nyakasikana, Nehanda led the first revolt against the British rule (1896-1897) resulting in her death in 1898. Staged as a trial reenactment, The Queen v. Nehanda addresses issues of political governance and resistance in Zimbabwe, and examines the legacies of the colonial project in the global South. Using dance, voice and design crafting, this participatory creation by choreographer nora chipaumire will also reactivate, reclaim, and preserve cultural histories, values and knowledge of the African people.
The Queen v. Nehanda (TQVN) evokes the tale of Nehanda, a spirit of the Shona people of Zimbabwe that reappears in various mediums and times to encourage rebellion and liberation. In the late 19th century, her medium was Charwe Nyakasikana, a powerful and influential religious leader in Zimbabwe, who conducted the first revolt of her community against the British traders and settlers in 1896-97.
TQVN is an operatic movement-based theater production which functions as a court proceeding, ritual prayer and act of cultural repatriation. TQVN tests art’s capacity to avenge those murdered in the 1896-97 uprisings in British-occupied Southern Rhodesia, by offering a new defense on behalf of the accused: Charwe Nyakasikana, Gutsa, Sekuru Kaguvi, and Gumboreshumba, the first heroes of Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle, known as the first Chimurenga.
TQVN will stage a criminal case against the British crown through song, image, gesture and dance. Conceived as a multi-format political trial, this archive-based performance, site-specific ritual, and participatory initiative will invite performers and audience to participate as judges, prosecutors, defendants and juries. Exploring history in a performative manner and reenacting events are a way to put history on trial and teach how the past has shaped African present.
Here, artistic director Nora Chipaumire continues the theatrical techniques of Christopher Schlingensief and Milo Rau who used live performance to bring powerful institutions and governments to accountability. Her approach to black history is also inspired by the Afrofuturistic and Afro-pessimistic theoretical discourse developed by Kodwo Eshun, Achille Membe, and others.
The roots of post-independence Africa’s problems lie in the injustices of pre-independence Africa. Colonial atrocities and violence must be exhumed and interrogated, not for the sake of revenge but to shed light on a haunting past, to reconsider narratives of truth, and reinvent African imaginaries.
(World Premiere, Fall 2018, The Kitchen
conceived | choreographed by nora chipaumire
Performed by nora chipaumire with Pape Ibrahima Ndiaye, a.k.a. Kaolack | Shamar Watt | David Gagliardi | Atiyyah Khan | Philip
Sound, Light, Costume Concept | Text | Script : nora chipaumire
Sound Research | Construction | Assemblage : nora chipaumire with Shamar Watt
Sound Design : Philip White
Technical Direction : Sean Seago (EU) | Heidi Eckwall (US)
Set Design : Ari Marcopoulos | Kara Walker | Matt Jackson Studio
#PUNK 100% POP *N!GGA (verbalized as “Hashtag PUNK, One hundred percent POP Star NIGGA”) is a live performance album inspired by Chipaumire’s formative years in Zimbabwe during the 1970s, 80s and 90s. The triptych explores three sonic ideologies: punk, pop and rumba, that are confronted and celebrated through iconic artists: Patti Smith, Grace Jones, and Rit Nzele, respectively.
In #PUNK 100% POP *NIGGA she challenges traditional rules of dance performance, crossing into the realm of live art by refusing to separate the choreographic, sonic, and visual elements. Each 40- minute set presents distinct sonic and visual landscapes, created by incorporating voice, dance, lecture, installation and performance. The sets could be performed individually or collectively as an epic song cycle.
Having inherited Zimbabwe’s historic and political baggage, she uses her work to question how status and power are experienced and presented with the body. For she and others born without property, name, or class, the human body poses a possible salvation–a manifesto or a vehicle for potential self-invention and self-determination. #PUNK 100% POP *NIGGA is a continuation of her career long
investigation of portraiture and self-portraiture, biography, subjecthood, liberation, and independence.
portrait of myself as my father
Zimbabwe-born Brooklyn-based Dancer-choreographer nora chipaumire continues her investigations on the black body, on Africa, and on the self. portrait of myself as my father takes place in a simulated boxing ring in which chipaumire and Senegalese dancer Pape Ibrahima Ndiaye, also known as Kaolack (a former performer with Compagnie Jant-Bi), are tied together in an exhausting and symbolic dance-ritual. They are joined by Jamaican-born, Brooklyn- based dancer Shamar Watt, who plays the coach/corner man/cheerleader/shadow. In this performance, the spectres of the estranged father dance, struggle, and ght against prejudices, social pressures, the weight of traditions and history. The piece considers the African male through the lens of capi- talism, Christianity, colonialism and liberation struggles—and how these political and cultural traditions impact the African family and society on a global scale. The imaginary daughter and father are tethered to the stage and to each other: they are both linked and opposed, and the elastic bands are a literal and figurative connection that questions family ties.
The show also celebrates and critiques masculinity: its presence, presentation, and representation. This timely examination of black maleness asks: What is it about the black male body that we fear?
portrait of myself as my father was commissioned by Peak Performances @ Montclair State University, and was a National Performance Network (NPN) Creation Fund Project co-commissioned by MDC Live Arts in partnership with Miami Light Project, Georgia Institute of Technology, 651 ARTS, and The Dance Center of Columbia College. The Creation Fund is supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Ford Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts (a federal agency).
Development and production was funded in part by The Map Fund, supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, and New York State Council on the Arts.
Residency support was received from the Dance in Process Program at Gibney Dance; also from MANCC, Baryshnikov Arts Center, Miami Light Project, 92Y Harkness Dance Center, Amherst College, and École des Sables. Additional Support: The Africa Contemporary Arts Consortium, The Suitcase Fund, The Japan Contemporary Dance Network (Kyoto), and Les Subsistances (Lyon).
The presentation of portrait of myself as my father was made possible by the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project, with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, with additional support from the National Endowment for the Arts.
– March 29, 2019, Legs Festival/Charleroi Danse, Brussels, BE, (#PUNK)
– March 30 – April 14, 2019, Bassano del Grappa, IT (NEW WORK RESIDENCY)
– April 14 – May 9, 2019, Tanztheater Wuppertal, Wuppertal, GR (WORKSHOP)
– April 28, 2019, Transform Festival, Leeds, GB (#PUNK)
– May 10-12, 2019, Kunstenfestival, Brussels, BE (100%POP)
– May 26, 2019, Take Me Somewhere, Glasgow, SC (100%POP)
– July 8, 2019, Grec Festival, Barcelona SP (#PUNK 100%POP)
– July 13, 2019, Bulwart Sztuki Festival, Krakow, Poland (#PUNK)
– July 16, 2019, Nowy Theatre, Warsaw Poland (#PUNK)
– August 1-3, 2019, Bates Dance Festival, Lewiston ME (100%POP)
– August 18-24, 2019, Tanz im August, Berlin, GE (#PUNK 100% POP *N!GGA)
– August 24-28, 2019, Zürcher Theater Spektakel, Zurich, SW (#PUNK100% POP*N!GGA)
– Aug 28- Sep 01, 2019, Festival La Batie, Geneva, Switzerland (#PUNK 100% POP *N!GGA)
– September 11-12, 2019, IEDM Festival @ La Casa Escendida, Madrid, Spain (#PUNK100% POP*N!GGA)
– September 19, 2019, Circular Festival, Portugal (#PUNK)
– October 18-19, ICA, Boston, MA (#PUNK100% POP*N!GGA)
– October 24-25, 2019, Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, OH (#PUNK100% POP*N!GGA)