Whatever a dancer looks like, an audience will project onto her a set of assumptions. Choreographer Nora Chipaumire is fascinated by this. Rather than obfuscating her appearance to hide from an audience’s “baggage,” Chipaumire instead works with—or against—these assumptions. Here, she explains how embracing her skin allows her to more deeply investigate what audiences impose on dancers.
Choreographer Nora Chipaumire discusses the “baggage” audiences project onto a dancer’s appearance. Filmed at The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage on September 20, 2016.
Nora Chipaumire will take part in The University of the Arts School of Dance’s presentation of The School for Temporary Liveness, an eight-day pop-up performance experience running September 25 through October 2. The “school” is staged throughout the Philadelphia Art Alliance building, designed to generate new forms of spectatorship and participation. As part of the project, Chipaumire will stage a “live performance album” inspired by her formative years in Zimbabwe and the energy and rebellion of 1980s punk and New Wave music.
Born in Mutare, Zimbabwe, and based in New York City, Nora Chipaumire creates work that challenges and embraces stereotypes of Africa and the black performing body. Supported by a Center Advancement grant, the Philadelphia Museum of Art presented Chipaumire’s portrait of myself as my father in the fall of 2016 as part of Creative Africa, an exhibition and performance series centered on connecting historic and contemporary African art through public programs and audience development initiatives.