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

Nora Chipaumire returned to MANCC for her third residency to develop portrait of myself as my father, a new work that celebrates and critiques masculinity (its presence, presentation, and representation) as Chipaumire continues her investigations focused on the black body, on Africa, and on the self. portrait considers the African male through the lens of cultural traditions, colonialism, Christianity, and liberation struggles, constructing and deconstructing black African masculinity. Placed in a boxing ring, an arena that suggests strength, courage, and violence, the "players" find themselves as commodity, product, and process. The value of black masculinity, being weighed and evaluated, perishes under scrutiny...

portrait of myself as my father crystallizes themes of race and gender within the performing body and articulates the relationship between a racialized/politicized body and its audience. The space between observation and participation is both examined and questioned. The work allows the viewer to move around the performance space and invites the audience to get close to the performing body, becoming part of the spectacle itself. It is an attempt to remove the fourth wall and create a "scene" in a public space, similar to a scuffle breaking out in the middle of a public gathering and the ensuing energy or chaos that composes that scenario.

Conceived as a performance installation (with a version for the proscenium stage), Nora used her MANCC residency to work on the interactive aspects of the performance through two work-in-progress showings; one for the School of Dance’s MANCC class and the other a public showing drawing an audience from across the community. She honed content for the piece through Entrypoints at FSU’s Renegade Boxing Gym and a scholar meeting with Religion Professor Dr. Joseph Hellweg and Ethnomusicologist Dr. Frank Gunderson, and focused on the soundscape with Tallahassee Sound Designer Calvin Jones. She spent considerable time in the studio refining the continuity of themes and movement throughout the piece. To that end, two School of Dance students, Shamar Watt, a senior, and Erika Hand, an MFA candidate, assisted Chipaumire in the studio.

The work premiered at Montclair State University as part of Peak Performances in April 2016. 

  • 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

Faye Driscoll

February 22 - 24
Carolina Performing
Arts, UNC Chapel Hill


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