No justice, no peace
She bears her Africanness like a mantle. She rejects and deconstructs hierarchy, reconnecting with feminine power and spirituality. nora chipaumire is a major figure in international choreography who invites, welcomes, and disrupts.
In her most recent work, the rebellious Zimbabwean choreographer gathers twenty artists, musicians, singers, and dancers, in an epic production she has dubbed an opera, of approximately 5 h 30. Both a choreographed concert and a three-part ceremony, Nehanda denounces the trial by which Queen Victoria convicted Charwe Nyakasikana, a leader of the anti-colonialist movement in Rhodesia at the end of the nineteenth century. Chants and rhythm recount the tale of Nehanda, spiritual power of the Shona uprising. Together in the mythic space of revolt, audience and artists take part in history, resistance, and reparations.
Produced by nora chipaumire
Artistic Direction nora chipaumire
Performed by Sylvestre Akakpo Adzaku + Tatenda Chabarwa + nora chipaumire + Jonathan Kudakwashe Daniel + David Gagliardi + McIntosh “SoKo” Jerahuni + Fatima Katiji + Mamoudou Konate + Othnell « Mangoma » Moyo + Lucia Palmieri + Mohamed Yousry Fathy « Shika » Saleh + Kei Leon Soares-Cobb + tyroneisaacstuart + Peter van Heerden + Shamar Wayne Watt + Gilbert Zvamaida
Sound Engineer Vusumuzi Moyo
Sound Assistant Kwamina Biney
Technical and Production Management Heidi Eckwall + Serena Wong
Tour Manager Sylvestre Akakpo Adzaku
Executive Manager Peter van Heerden
Company Manager Astrid Rostaing
Associate Company Manager Mirna Matošić
Booking ArKtype ̶ Thomas O. Kriegsmann
Commissioned by Quick Center for the Arts – Fairfield University + Lower Manhattan Cultural Council as part of Extended Life Dance Development program + PEAK Performances at Montclair State University + Komische Oper Berlin
With the support of The Mellon Foundation + New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project + New York State Council on the Arts + National Endowment for the Arts
Residencies PACT Zollverein (Essen) + CSC Centro per la Scena Contemporanea (Bassano del Grappa)
Premiered at PEAK Performances, Montclair State University, September 16, 2022
Presented in association with Espace GO
Written by Laeticia Philantrope
Translated by Rebecca Rustin
The show is performed in the languages of all its participants : Shona, English, Ndebele, Ewe, Afrikaans, Kriolu… among others.
About the artist
nora chipaumire (Mutare + New York + Berlin)
nora chipaumire first studied law, then performance, dance and choreography in Africa, Jamaica, Cuba, and the United States. Her performances have been presented worldwide, including France, Italy, Japan, Senegal, and Zimbabwe.
Her interests lie in the condition and power of the body, in social classes, politics, emancipatory possibilities, and social and individual independence movements. Her solo work Dark Swan (2005), remounted as a group piece in 2014, explores the transmission of performance art from one body to another through her own, that of an African woman, and all the history that entails.
Winner of four Bessie prizes, her works address questions of Black, African, and feminine identity and of colonialism through dance, bodies in conversation, and political revindication. Miriam (2012) questions the legacy of the imperialist cultural traditions that inform definitions of feminine beauty and power. Set in the centre of a boxing ring, portrait of myself as my father (2016) examines African masculinity through the lens of the relationship between nora and her father, circumscribed by the spectre of capitalism.
For her first FTA appearance chipaumire had planned to present her political manifesto and concert #PUNK 100% POP *N!GGA (2018), but the show was cancelled due to the pandemic. She has since been working on Nehanda, a prolific project that has already made the rounds among several major festivals and takes on various forms, such as a radiophonic version and an installation.
“Nehanda provided an extraordinary multi-sensory experience that felt at times chaotic, but was never less than thrilling.”
Robert Johnson, NJArts.net (United States), 2022-09-20
« Dans cette pièce, le spectateur est immédiatement immergé dans un flot quasi continu de musique. »
Crystal Zrnjevic, Theatre Actu (France), 2022-10-27
« La recherche musicale est exceptionnelle. »
Fabien Rivière, Espaces Magnétiques (France), 2022-11-06
“Incarnating formidable female spirits has long been a specialty of this Zimbabwean-born choreographer and performer.”
Brian Seibert, The New Yorker (United States)
“[The Band] was an eight-piece ensemble that produced a rolling river of groove. The mbira, or thumb piano, provided the main current, joined by percussion and guitar and topped by vocals in many languages other than English: ululations, choral harmonies, the growl or patter of McIntosh Jerahuni, the clarion call of the wonderful Fatima Katiji.”
Brian Seibert, The New York Times (United States), 2022-09-18