Nora Chipaumire: Miriam
Director Eric Ting
Composer Omar Sosa
Lighting design Olivier Clausse
Performer Nora Chipaumire
Performer Okwui Okpokwasili
Seating will begin at 7:50PM and late seating will not be available. Please be sure to arrive early.
With Miriam, the renowned choreographer and dancer Nora Chipaumire creates her first character-driven work — a deeply personal dance-theatre performance that looks closely at the tensions women face between public expectations and private desires, between selflessness and ambition, and between the perfection and sacrifice of the feminine ideal.
The inspiration for Miriam springs from the cultural and political milieu of Chipaumire’s southern African girlhood, her self-exile to the U.S. and her self-discovery as an artist. But Miriam also reverberates with other literary and legendary influences: the writings of Joseph Conrad and Chenjerai Hove; the life of South African singer and activist Miriam Makeba; and the Christian iconography of Mary.
The staged work features an interplay of light and shadow that infers the presence of others, real and imagined, within a suggestive environment that calls to mind the site of a crime, a mysterious land or a sacred place of ritual and retreat.
Preview by The Washington Post
Darkness permeates choreographer Nora Chipaumire’s latest work, “Miriam.” The hour-long piece begins in near blackness, forcing viewers to let their eyes adjust and, Chipaumire hopes, activate their other senses.
“It is disconcerting, but I think it is also liberating at the same time,” the Zimbabwean-born choreographer says of dancing in the dark, with sometimes just a headlamp or a bare light bulb illuminating the stage.
– LISA TRAIGER, The Washington Post, Friday, March 29, 2013
Preview by The Boston Globe
Her 2012 dance “Miriam” is, in part, an investigation of assumptions and stereotypes about Africa, as well as those of the female body. The piece considers contradictory expectations of women in general.
– JANINE PARKER, The Boston Globe, Thursday, March 14, 2013
Nora Chipaumire's Artist Statement
The act of othering, and being other, is a major theme in my work and I have always been concerned with how to make the audience comprehend what it means and what it feels like...Taking away the “right” of the audience to comfortably comprehend is my attempt at bringing the audience towards what it feels like to be OTHER.
– NORA CHIPAUMIRE, On OTHERING: a performer/audience dilemma
Key source materials for Miriam
Preview of Miriam by The New York Times
For Ms. Chipaumire…obfuscation as strategy is nothing new. There is often a sense in her dances of withholding. You can get glimpses of me, she seems to keep reminding the audience, but please don’t mistake these fragments for a graspable whole.
– BRIAN SEIBERT, The New York Times, September 11, 2012
Clip from Nora
Shot in Southern Africa, Nora is based on childhood memories of the self-exiled dancer Nora Chipaumire who was born in Zimbabwe in 1965. Using performance and dance, she brings her history to life in a swiftly-moving poem of sound and image. The original score was composed by a Zimbabwean legend, Thomas Mapfumo.
Review of Nora by The Brooklyn Rail
[Nora] is infused with hope, sadness, humor, and plenty of luscious color…Its dream-like recollections and vivid hues produce a rich and deeply satisfying film.
– Mary Hodges, The Brooklyn Rail, December 2008/January 2009
Resources at the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library
Our neighbors at the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library have compiled a list of available resources relevant to this performance: