Nora Chipaumire

Born in Mutare, Zimbabwe and based in New York City for over a decade, Nora Chipaumire has been challenging and embracing stereotypes of Africa and the black performing body, art, and aesthetic for almost two decades. She has studied dance in many parts of the world including Africa (Senegal, Burkina Faso, Kenya, Tanzania, and South 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 (CA).

Chipaumire is a 2012 Alpert Award in the Arts recipient and 2011 United States Artist Ford Fellow. She is also a three-time New York Dance and Performance (aka “Bessie”) Awardee: in 2014 for dark swan performed by Urban Bush Women, in 2008 for her dance-theater 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 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. Chipaumire was recently selected as a Hodder Fellow at Princeton University for 2014-2015.

Recent works include Rite Riot (2013), a 75 minute solo rendering of The Rite of Spring; Miriam (2012) produced by MAPP International Productions; The Last Heifer (2012), commissioned by Danspace Project for Platform 2012, Parallels; Visible (2011), commissioned by Harlem Stage and created in collaboration with Jawole Willa Jo Zollar; Kimya (2011), a work for Jokajok!, a female ensemble based in Kenya; I Ka Nye (You Look Good) (2010), created and performed with choreographer Souleymane Badolo and musician Obo Addy; Silence/Dreams (2010), created and performed with Fred Bendongue; and lions will roar, swans will fly, angels will wrestle heaven, rains will break: gukurahundi (2009), created and performed with Thomas Mapfumo and The Blacks Unlimited.

Chipaumire has been conducting extensive research and teaching in Africa since 2005 and elsewhere internationally. Recent international projects include creative residencies at Ecole des Sables (Senegal), a commission for Tumbuka Contemporary Dance Co. (Zimbabwe), a teaching residency and commission for Haba na Haba (Tanzania) and a creative residency and performance through Japan Contemporary Dance Network.

She is featured in several films, including Fao (dir. Carolina Alejos & Luis Guardeno, 2010); Dark Swan (dir. Laurie Coyle, 2011); and the award-winning, Nora, (dir. Alla Kovgan & David Hinton, 2008), as well as the documentaries Movement (R)evolution Africa (dir. Joan Frosch & Alla Kovgan, 2006) and Cassa Cassa (dir. Elodie Lefebvre, 2011).

Returning Choreographic Fellow | January 28 - February 15, 2015

portrait of myself as my father

Bessie Award-winning artist Okwui Okpokwasili uses an interdisciplinary, intensely visual and textured lens to look at issues of gender, culture, and identity as they are expressed in American and global contexts. Poor People’s TV Room is rooted in a kinetic history of collective action in Nigeria, drawing from historical events in order to explore the amnesia around collective action initiated by African women and to build a narrative around the impact of that erasure. Integrating choreography, song, text, and film, Poor People’s TV Room crosses disciplines to make a visceral performance where the past is alive and unleashed in the present.

Poor People’s TV Room is informed by two historic incidents in Nigeria: The Women’s War of 1929, a resistance movement against British colonial powers; and the Boko Haram kidnappings of more than 300 girls, which launched the Bring Back Our Girls movement. Women have been central to these campaigns and have played essential and powerful roles in Nigeria’s independence. Poor People’s TV Room attempts not only to unearth this complex history, but to investigate how buried narratives of women in Nigeria resonate with present actions throughout the world.

Other creative points of departure include: the dystopian mythology of author Amos Tutuola; Octavia Butler’s science fiction; the TV room of a wealthy government official designated exclusively for poor people in his village; a lost girl in the present; and a ghost from the Women’s War.

Performed by Okpokwasili and a cast of three women from different generations, the choreography and music are inspired by traditional Nigerian songs and dances that were performed by women as acts of resistance and blended with Okpokwasili’s own contemporary aesthetic. Collaborating with director/designer Peter Born, the visual design reflects their work at the intersection of theater and installation to achieve a visceral and encompassing environment.

The MANCC residency was the first time in the year-long development of the work that the whole cast was in the same room at once, allowing the collaborators to develop a movement vocabulary and framework for the piece, and also experiment with live feed video and projections. Okpokwasili will return to MANCC in September 2016 for a second residency to continue the development of Poor People’s TV Room.

This residency was made possible, in part, by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

  • Nora Chipaumire rehearses <i>portrait of myself as my <strike>father</strike></i>
  • Chipaumire and Pia Murray
  • Chipaumire and Pape Ibrahima Ndiaye
  • FSU student Shamar Watt looks on as Chipaumire and Ndiaye rehearse
  • <i>portrait of myself as my <strike>father</strike></i> rehearsal
  • Nora Chipaumire
  • Chipaumire researches movement at Tallahassee's Renegade Boxing Gym
  • Dr. Joab Corey demonstrates boxing techniques for Chipaumire and collborators
  • Ethnomusicologist Dr. Frank Gunderson and Religion Professor Dr. Joseph Hellweg talk with Chipaumire
  • <i>portrait of myself as my <strike>father</strike></i> Informal Showing
  • FSU student Shamar Watt performs in <i>portrait of myself as my <strike>father</strike></i> Informal Showing
  • <i>portrait of myself as my <strike>father</strike></i> Informal Showing
  • <i>portrait of myself as my <strike>father</strike></i> Informal Showing
  • <i>portrait of myself as my <strike>father</strike></i> Informal Showing
  • <i>portrait of myself as my <strike>father</strike></i> Informal Showing
  • <i>portrait of myself as my <strike>father</strike></i> Informal Showing
  • <i>portrait of myself as my <strike>father</strike></i> Informal Showing
  • <i>portrait of myself as my <strike>father</strike></i> Informal Showing
  • <i>portrait of myself as my <strike>father</strike></i> Informal Showing
  • <i>portrait of myself as my <strike>father</strike></i> Informal Showing
  • <i>portrait of myself as my <strike>father</strike></i> Informal Showing
  • <i>portrait of myself as my <strike>father</strike></i> Informal Showing
  • Chipaumire discusses <i>portrait of myself as my <strike>father</strike></i> with students
  • Chipaumire discusses <i>portrait of myself as my <strike>father</strike></i> with students
Collaborators in Residence: Pape Ibrahima Ndiaye [performer] and Pia Murray [artistic & administrative assistant]. Photo slideshows by Chris Cameron and Al Hall.

Choreographic Fellow | May 18 – June 7 2008 | May 3 – 11, 2009

lions will roar, swans will fly, angels will wrestle heaven, rains will break: gukurahundi

In 2008, Chipaumire primarily focused on movement development and her collaboration with Zimbabwean musicians Thomas Mapfumo and Blacks Unlimited. Chipaumire returned early summer 2009 to bring the visual design team together to continue developing the lighting and projection designs. This piece examines the art-making landscape in Zimbabwe after years of independence and questions the limitations and benefits of what it means to live outside of one’s native culture.

lions will roar, swans will fly, angels will wrestle heaven, rains will break: gukurahundi premiered at The Kumble Theater for the Performing Arts at Long Island University’s Brooklyn Campus on May 21-22, 2010. 

Video Highlights for Nora Chipaumire Residency

Collaborators in Residence 2008: Thomas Mapfumo [composer], Lancelot Kashesha, Chakaipa, Gilbert Zvamaida [Blacks Unlimited musicians]

Collaborators in Residence 2009: Olivier Clausse [lighting designer], Joelle Dietrick [animator + projection designer], Mallory Starling [guest performer]

Featured Artist

Nora Chipaumire

portrait of myself
as my father

Sept 14 - 17
Brooklyn Academy
of Music, (NY)


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