Nora Chipaumire with Thomas Mapfumo/The Blacks Unlimited: lions will roar, swans will fly, angels will wrestle heaven, rains will break: gukurahundi
Co-presented by '62 Center for Theatre and Dance at Williams College
Friday, March 4 and Saturday, March 5, 2011; 8:00PM
'62 Center for Theatre and Dance at Williams College
Lion will roar....
A visual, aural and kinesthetic equivalent of Africa's great cities: Kinshasa, Jo'burg, Dakar, Lagos. Cities full of life, contradictions, grace, defiance, vibrant, vulgar, and "now!". This is a dance about loss, grief, displacement, trauma and a confrontation with those African brands that we have become complicit in selling, consuming and perpetuating. We are all too familiar with the African brands: war, violence, safari, exotic; what sells about Africa: its people, its culture, its art, this dire, relentless backwardness, suffering and archaic systems of survival that is at the same time praised for their racticalities, innocence and oneness with the earth, etc. etc. The African contemporary dancer/choreographer finds himself trapped in the need to survive and creates work that supports these brands. For us life is brutal and short. Indeed we are the "wretched of the earth," and would do best to understand our situation, and to find other means towards self-preservation and survival.
The work looks squarely at all this and takes on the magnificent task of offering another Africa. An Africa neither pleading nor begging, an Africa in conversation with itself, asking the difficult questions, and celebrating our achievements and our humanity. This artist is learning from a living African legend, Thomas Mapfumo, that the truth saves the day; neither compromise nor easy money will get us out of our wretchedness. Thomas Mapfumo, the Lion of Zimbabwe, has dedicated his life to graceful, defiant, truth telling. A truth telling that is universal. What happens when the African has stopped describing himself as he has been described by outsiders, or by history? What happens when the African stops apologizing and realizes his own innate power? What happens when the African is given an equal playing field, fair trade as opposed to aid? These are the questions that the work dares to speak out loud. The time for change is always "now!
concept and choreography: Nora Chipaumire
music: Thomas Mapfumo and The Blacks Unlimited
animations: Romain Tardy and Joelle Dietrick
light design: Olivier Clausse dit Maurice
costumes: Naoko Nagata
Since 2005, Chipaumire has toured extensively throughout North America, Europe, and Africa, most recently performing in Bergamo, Italy for the 2010 Takunda Prize, presented by Cesvi, an international humanitarian organization. She is a 2008 New York Dance and Performance (aka "Bessie") Award for her choreographic work Chimurenga; and a 2007 New York Dance and Performance Award in the performance category for her work with Urban Bush Women where she also served as Associate Artistic Director.
She has been honored with the Mariam McGlone Emerging Choreographer Award from Wesleyan University Center for the Arts (2007). Chipaumire's work has received funding from the National Dance Project (NDP), Rockefeller MAP Fund, Creative Capital and the National Endowment for the Arts. She is featured in the documentary "Movement (R)evolution Africa (a story
of an art form in four acts)" and the focus of two dance films: "Nora," directed by Alla Kovgan and David Hinton and "Dark Swan," directed by Laurie Coyle. Chipaumire studied dance formally and informally in her native Zimbabwe, Senegal, USA, Cuba, and Jamaica. She is a graduate of the University of Zimbabwe's School of Law and holds graduate degrees from Mills College of Oakland, CA in dance (MA) and choreography & performance (MFA).