Nora Chipaumire’s Miriam Explores Tensions of the Feminine Ideal, April 4-6

Friday, March 8, 2013

CONTACT: Sarah Snyder

March 8, 2013College Park, MD – Renowned choreographer and dancer Nora Chipaumire presents Miriam, a deeply personal dance-theatre piece 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, on April 4-6 at 8pm at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center.

Conceived, written and choreographed by Chipaumire, Miriam is directed by Eric Ting with an original soundscore by composer and pianist Omar Sosa, lighting and visual environment by Olivier Clausse, costume design by Naoko Nagata and sound design by Lucas Indelicato. Actor/dancer Okwui Okpokwasili joins in the performance. The artists will host a Talk Back after the April 5 performance.

Nora Chipaumire most recently appeared at the Center in lions will roar, swans will fly, angels will wrestle heaven, rains will break: gukurahundi  during the 2010-2011 season.

About Miriam

Nora Chipaumire’s inspiration for Miriam stems from the cultural and political environment of her 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.

In performance, the persona embodied by Chipaumire emerges from a pile of rocks onstage to convey—through movement and text—a woman’s struggles with the burden of objectification and the weight of resistance in a world defined largely by men. Her efforts are abetted and haunted by an otherworldly character, both angel and devil, performed by Okwui Okpokwasili. In their interplay, Miriam renders in vivid images the intensity of women who fight to create themselves despite the dual legacies of strict cultural traditions and imperialist racial views that define female beauty and power.

About Nora Chipaumire

Born in Mutare, Zimbabwe and currently a resident of New York City, Nora Chipaumire has been challenging stereotypes of Africa and the black performing body, art and aesthetic for the past decade. She has studied dance in many parts of the world including Africa, Cuba, Jamaica and the U.S. A graduate of the University of Zimbabwe's School of Law, Chipaumire holds an M.A. in Dance and M.F.A. in Choreography and Performance from Mills College in California.

She is a 2012 Alpert Award in the Arts recipient and 2011 United States Artist Ford Fellow. She is also a two-time New York Dance and Performance (aka "Bessie") Awardee—in 2008 for her dance-theatre work, Chimurenga, and in 2007 for her body of work with Urban Bush Women, where she was a featured performer for six years (2003-2008) and served as Associate Artistic Director (2007-2008). She is the recipient of the 2009 AFROPOP Real Life Award for her choreography in the film, Nora. She has also been awarded the 2007 Mariam McGlone Emerging Choreographer Award from Wesleyan University Center for the Arts and a MANCC Choreographic Fellowship in 2007-2008.


More information can be found on our web site. Tickets for this performance are $35/$10 (Regular/Students), and can be purchased online or by calling (301) 405-ARTS (2787).


About The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at UMD

The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland is a collaborative space shared by the School of Music (SOM), the School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies (TDPS) and the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library.  The Clarice Smith Center presents performances and programs by visiting artists as well as by students and faculty of SOM and TDPS in an environment of creative learning, exploration and growth. A national model for a performing arts center on a major research university campus, the Center enables innovative partnerships and extraordinary experiences.

This tour of Nora Chipaumire is made possible by a grant from Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation with support from the National Endowment for the Arts. The presentation of Miriam was also made possible by the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project, with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and additional funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center is supported by a grant from the Maryland State Arts Council, an agency dedicated to cultivating a vibrant cultural community where the arts thrive. An agency of the Department of Business & Economic Development, the MSAC provides financial support and technical assistance to nonprofit organizations, units of government, colleges and universities for arts activities. Funding for the Maryland State Arts Council is also provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.