Nora Chipaumire: Miriam

July 13, 2013 - 7:00pm

photo credit: Isabel Zimmerman
Okwui Okwapasili, Nora Chipaumire - Photo: Isabel Zimmerman

The grounds will open for picnicking at 6 pm. Patrons will be led in groups to the performance site at 7:15 pm, so plan to be on the grounds by 7 pm. There will be no late entries.

Admission: $30. Purchase online now from Alverno Presents at

Lynden members may purchase tickets for $25 by calling the Alverno Presents Box Office at 414-382-6044. Box office hours: Tuesday-Thursday, noon-3 pm.

Parking: Please park at the Park & Ride located just to the west of the Brown Deer Road exit of I-43. A free shuttle bus will run between the Park & Ride and Lynden beginning at 6 pm.

A co-presentation with

With Miriam, the renowned choreographer and dancer Nora Chipaumire creates her first character-driven work—a deeply personal dance-theater performance that reverberates with tensions: between public expectations and private desires, between objectification and power, and between darkness and light. Miriam invites the audience into an immersive experience of being an outsider, requiring the engagement of all five senses.

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. Additional literary and legendary influences – the writings of Joseph Conrad and Zimbabwean novelist Chenjerai Hove; the life of South African singer and activist Miriam Makeba; and the Christian iconography of Mary—come into the work as layers of text, sound and image that enrich the mysterious and haunting world of Chipaumire’s creation.

In performance, the persona embodied by Chipaumire emerges from a pile of rocks to convey a woman’s struggles with the burden of objectification and the weight of resistance in a world defined largely by others. Her efforts are abetted 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.

Miriam is conceived, written and choreographed by Nora Chipaumire, and directed by Eric Ting with an original soundscore by composer and pianist Omar Sosa; lighting and visual environment by Olivier Clausse; and sound design by Lucas Indelicato. The work is performed by Chipaumire and actor/dancer Okwui Okpokwasili.

About Nora Chipaumire
Born in Mutare, Zimbabwe and based in New York City, 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 (Senegal, Burkina Faso, Kenya, 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 two-time New York Dance and Performance (aka “Bessie”) Awardee: 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.

In addition to Miriam, recent works include 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. She is featured in several films, including Dark Swan (dir. Laurie Coyle, 2011); the award-winning, Nora (dir. Alla Kovgan & David Hinton, 2008); and the documentary Movement (R)evolution Africa (a story of an art form in four acts) (dir. Joan Frosch & Alla Kovgan, 2006).

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