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Community Engagement
Sep. 13 — Sep. 13, 2014

WeDaPeoples Cabaret / Eugene Lang College, The New School
7:00 pm, New Tishman Auditorium, New York, NY
Nora Chipaumire in MIRIAM. Photo by Olivier Clausse.^494

Nora Chipaumire

On tour, Chipaumire and her collaborators are interested in engaging with communities in variety of ways:

Moderated discussions and/or post-performance conversations
Chipaumire welcomes speaking with people who bring a critical perspective to her work and ask provocative and challenging questions, particularly those who come from a scholarly, visual art or sound perspective. Conversations can be held following a performance or at a separate time.

Lecture/Demonstration with Okwui Okpokwasili
Chipaumire and Okpokwasili show sections of Miriam and discuss the process of building the work, the ways in which they work together, and the methods by which Chipaumire excavates language and her own experience to create gesture, movement and score in the creation of the piece.

Master Dance Classes and Composition Workshops
Chipaumire prefers to teach a series of classes or workshops (3-4) with the same group of students. One-off master classes can be taught in the university setting, but are not desired in a professional or community setting.

  • Contemporary Dance Technique Dancing over/under/inside and outside traditions, this is a technique class in Chipaumire's own movement idiom. Her own personal practice, "toi toi, or embodied resistance," as well as her studies of dance forms within the African Diaspora, has helped shape Chipaumire's approach to the body as approach to time, space and force. The class is designed for both the professional dancer keen on exploring a new method to performing and students looking to expand their personal vocabulary by deeply mining personal, social, and political histories. Chipaumire will craft the specific structure of the workshop based on the participants in the room. Over multiple meetings, participants may also experiment with creating movement developed from their own or outside text, the study of images and iconography, and dialogue about personal and cultural histories.

Other class visits
In university settings, Chipaumire is interested in engaging with African Studies, Women's Studies and Visual Art or Art History departments. Topics of interest that relate to Miriam include iconography; representations and expectations of women/African women; power, history and resistance; exile, outsiderness and notions of home.

 

Read & Reflect
During the development of Miriam, MAPP has hosted a "Read & Reflect" group of 10-15 women around Nora's creative process. The gatherings function a bit like a book group, meeting periodically to engage with the source material of Miriam discuss some of the big ideas which surround the work. Each of three meetings engaged with a key text and started with some guiding questions.

  • First meeting: Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness
    How are women represented in this book (contrasting the African "wild" woman and the "intended")? What is the significance of the western/male/powerful gaze? Is home a burden or comfort? How do you define yourself within or apart from your history? How can a person use anonymity or invisibleness to their benefit?
  • Second meeting: Chenjerai Hove's Bones
    Do you see yourself in this story? How are we marked/scarred/wounded? How do we encounter/feel the feminine ideals of virgin, prostitute and mother and the complex in-betweens? What is the power in actively disrupting those categories?
  • Third meeting: Rainer Maria Rilke's Duino Elegies
    What is beauty? How do we experience the terrifying beauty that Rilke talks about? How does context effect our understanding of beauty? How can beauty be an active force, a source of power?

The invited women all have rich life experience, have understanding or experience of "outsiderness," and negotiate success (defined broadly) in their career or artistry. After going through this process these women are well informed audience members who take an active role in bringing others into the work. We look forward to adapting this idea for the tour and planning variations which work with different communities. When advance visits are possible, Chipaumire and/or Okpokwasili may be present for the discussions. It is also possible to identify local women to act as the leaders of the conversations and follow this format without the artists present.