MIAMI — Dancing her way to South Florida, which is not so secretly becoming a center for an arts and cultural movement, is Zimbabwean dancer, director and choreographer Nora Chipaumire.
She is internationally versed in performance through her formal and informal studies in Zimbabwe, Senegal, the United States, Cuba and Jamaica. She has toured North America, Europe and Africa. She is a graduate of the University of Zimbabwe’s School of Law and holds graduate degrees in dance and choreography from Mills College of Oakland, Calif.
Her area debut is for two nights only, Jan. 20 and 21, at the Light Box at Goldman Warehouse, presented by Miami Dade College and the Miami Light Project. The performance is billed as “an unblinking
multi-media performance memoir that is charged with personal experiences of growing up during Zimbabwe’s second War of Liberation and paints a distinct social and political geography of South Africa.”
In this much-anticipated appearance, Chipaumire, revered in dance communities internationally, will perform solo works Chimurenga, Dark Swan and offer a sneak peak of her latest choreographic work, Miriam. Men and women of the Diaspora recognize the significance of Chipaumire’s visit as a window inside dance, politics and activism.
“My work is about people and my goal is to move people to action. It is propaganda and unapologetic agitations of human rights,” Chipaumire states. “My work is township. It is urban. It is now. It is not about the colonial, post-colonial, geopolitical Africa. It is about African people agitating for fair trade, not aid.”
With the stance of a soldier and voice of a potential world leader — if there is such a thing for an art form — Chipaumire, in a strong deliberate tone, affirms, “Dance is my first language and English is my second. I can make any statement with my body when I walk in a room or anywhere in the world with my mere presence. The energy can shift. I can project, read expectations and the stance of others. I know who I am fully. I am black. I am African.
I am a woman. I am beautiful. I am history. I am a political body. I am more than one identity. I am complex.”
When asked what legacy she would like to leave to mark her existence and contribution as a dance visionary, she references her own hero, German dancer and choreographer Pina Bausch, as having had a profound influence on her views and intentions.
“I want to connect with people, share the ideas of humanity and all the possibilities of what that means. I want to create in the avant-garde and be provocative. I want people to recognize the language of dance and embrace our bodies as more than just beautiful things and shapes. We can
communicate with the body as a tool or a weapon. The body is the last frontier and I believe we can use the territory of the body to speak to and contest the restrictions of being identified by gender, race, age and beauty.
“As an African, I am not interested in carrying traditions. I want to break down assumptions, whether fair or not, that Africa is a place of traditions. I want to share the process of translation.”
The timing honors Black history month in February followed by Women’s History Month in March. Yet it’s not about being black, but rather the greatness sprung from African DNA.
Chipaumire is a welcome addition to South Florida’s cultural movement, the sprouting interest in roots and culture and the long debate over what being African, African-American or identified as black means.
The presence of Chipaumire, right in our midst, is a passport, free of the customary stamps and visas required to get a glimpse inside another country, to see the soul of dance, its relation to self-identity and to hear yet another great voice that is proud of self, people and country, and what it means to share this in dance as storytelling and a documentation of history.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Nora Chipaumire
WHEN: Friday and Saturday, Jan. 20-21, 8 p.m.
WHERE: The Light Box Goldman Warehouse, 404 N.W. 26th St., Miami
TICKETS: $20 at miamilightproject.com or 866-811-4111; for $10 MDC student and staff tickets with valid identification call 305-237-3010.