portrait of myself as my father
Friday, September 23
$15 – $29
Loading Dock–West Entrance, , Philadelphia Museum of ArtMap
“A rock star of downtown dance, with a majestic quality that blows everything else out of the water.” Dance Magazine
“I wanted the most masculine physical language possible, language of male spaces—or arena—in which black men dominate.” nora chipaumire, choreographer
She never knew her father, now she will invent him.
Within a boxing ring, and surrounded by spectators, she will tether him to her, as he becomes all she wants him to be, all that she envisions a man to be, and she will pressure him to his breaking point. A deeply personal work, dancer-choreographer and Zimbabwe-native nora chipaumire lost her father as a child and was raised by women. With portrait of myself as my father, she celebrates and critiques masculinity: its presence, presentation, and representation. She considers the African male through the lens of cultural traditions, colonialism, Christianity, liberation struggles—and how these ideas impact the African family and society.
Physically and emotionally tough, with humor, guile, fashion, and rage, Chipaumire makes her subject a man who can embody all men, embody the ancestral as well as the modern—a man both strong and fragile, smart and beautiful, a man between worlds.
Choreographer: nora chipaumire
Performers: nora chipaumire, Pape Ibrahima Ndiaye, a.k.a. Kaolack, Shamar Watt.
$29 general / $20.30 member
$15 student + 25-and-underGet Tickets
The presentation of portrait of myself as my
father is supported by an Advancement Grant from The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage and by the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project.
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 (Senegal, Burkina Faso, Kenya, and South Africa), Cuba, Jamaica, and the United States. She is 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, with whom she was a featured performer for six years (2003–2008) and served as associate artistic director (2007–2008). She is also the recipient of the 2009 AFROPOP Real Life Award for her choreography in the film Nora. Recent works include Rite Riot (2013), a 75-minute solo rendering of The Rite of Spring.
Interview with nora chipaumire
FringeArts: What was portrait’s inspiration?
nora chipaumire: I wanted to look at the institution of the family and how fathers or men are sacrificed. Fatherhood, manhood, masculinity within the African family became very important themes and increasingly so as I was raised by women. I knew it was the right time to do this work as I have been increasingly doing work in my native Zimbabwe and spending large amounts of time with my family.
FringeArts: What’s tricky about making a work that involves such a personal figure from your life?
nora chipaumire: Family and one’s responsibility to this formidable institution. Personal history allows for an honesty and integrity that is unique. The more unique the more interesting the story I believe. Fictionalizing one deepest hopes and desires is what art is!
FringeArts: How were your ideas for the movement of portrait formed?
nora chipaumire: From the art of boxing, the art of traditional Senegalese wrestling, the art of running, the art of sapology [a Central African male fashion movement] as well as Coupe de Calle [a popular dance music that emerged from the Ivory Coast and Paris]. I wanted the most masculine physical language possible, language of male spaces—or arena—in which black men dominate.
FringeArts: Why did you choose Pape Ibrahima Ndiaye as the other lead performer?
nora chipaumire: Ndiaye is a phenomenal performer. I wanted a man who could embody all men: a man who could embody the ancestral as well as the modern; a man both strong and fragile, smart and beautiful. In fact, I wanted an artist who was unafraid of the complexity of the black African male: the creation of character is about putting a mirror to what already is there, analyzing it and then fictionalizing it. Because this is not about words, movement had to be excavated, between two cultures, Shona and Wolof. Between the worlds of the athlete—boxer, runner—and aesthete—sapeur.
Review: A Dizzying and Dense ‘Portrait’ from Nora Chipaumire by Siobhan Burke, The New York Times
Excerpt: The characters don’t fight, not in any obvious sense, but pressure builds on Kaolack as it would on a champion athlete. The stakes, though, are higher. Ms. Chipaumire, who gives herself the power of the microphone, delivers a booming manifesto — “the African must be freed from the African” — and asks: “How do you become a man? A black man? A black African man?” Read the full article.