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Marc Bamuthi Joseph
Apr. 4 — Apr. 5, 2014

red, black &GREEN: a blues / The Kennedy Center for Performing Arts
Washington, DC
Nora Chipaumire in MIRIAM. Photo by Isabel Zimmerman. ^494 Nora Chipaumire in MIRIAM. Photo by Isabel Zimmerman. ^494 Nora Chipaumire in MIRIAM. Photo by Antoine Tempe.^494 Okwui Okpokwasili and Nora Chipaumire in MIRIAM. Photo by Antoine Tempe.^494 Okwui Okpokwasili and Nora Chipaumire in MIRIAM. Photo by Antoine Tempe.^494 Nora Chipaumire. Photo by Susy Simonetto.^494 Nora Chipaumire and Okwui Okpokwasili in MIRIAM. Photo by Isabel Zimmerman.^494

Nora Chipaumire

With Miriam, the renowned choreographer and dancer Nora Chipaumire creates her first character-driven work—a deeply personal dance-theater performance that looks closely at the tensions women face between public expectations and private desires; between selflessness and ambition; and between the perfection and sacrifice of the feminine ideal.

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. But Miriam also reverberates with other literary and legendary influences: the writings of Joseph Conrad and Chenjerai Hove; the life of South African singer and activist Miriam Makeba; and the Christian iconography of Mary.

In performance, the persona embodied by Chipaumire emerges from a pile of rocks onstage to convey—through movement and text—a woman’s struggles with the burden of objectification and the weight of resistance in a world defined largely by men. Her efforts are abetted and haunted 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, costume design by Naoko Nagata, and sound design by Lucas Indelicato. Actor/dancer Okwui Okpokwasili joins in the performance.

Run time: 60 minutes