Art Dance: An Un-winnable Battle by nora chipaumire

This is an extract version of the full article which can be found in Identity and Choreographic Practice available at our online store.

Over the past two decades I have sought to create work to challenge and negotiate the way Black African bodies are drawn, written, and read about in art-dance. Is the engagement with the imperialist, capitalist beast – trench warfare – worth fighting?  I have to say yes, and perhaps encourage those with the energy to continue in this war of artistic attrition.

Having recovered my place within my native territory (Zimbabwe and Southern Africa), I feel the urgency to declaim this manifesto.  My Zimbabwean-ness has become the preferred window through which critics have arrived at their (underwhelming) reading of the work.  Why have the critics focused less on the urgent utilisation of space, time, force (and the massive contribution regarding these efforts from artists of the global South)?  Furthermore, where is the critique from the so-called global other?  The West and non-West fail the artist with this myopia.

My work is beyond identity.  It is beyond negritude, Black arts movements, Pan Africanisms, nationalisms.  My work is to write new codes into, and to re-energise what has become a lethargic, boring, Western born, but dead art form: contemporary dance!

Physical space is nothing but an invitation to create the imaginary that is revolutionary, that is FREE! and possibly democratic.

The future is no longer in Paris, Berlin, London, or New York.  The future is in the hands of urban youths in Kinshasa, Harare, Maputo. I want to walk with these youths into unimagined imaginaries.

Long live the dance.

Full article can be found in Identity and Choreographic PracticeHow culture and training influence choreographic vocabulary, and how identity is revealed in practice, from classical ballet to the complex heritage of the African and African Caribbean Diaspora.

Full article can be found in BlackInk new magazine of international voices from across the African and African Caribbean Diaspora and indigenous communities. Featuring over 30 artists, writers, poets, illustrators, photographers and more.

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nora chipaumire
Born in Mutare, Zimbabwe and based in New York, nora chipaumire has been challenging and embracing stereotypes of Africa and the black performing body, art and aesthetic.  She is a graduate of the University of Zimbabwe’s School of Law and holds a M.A. in Dance and M.F.A. in Choreography and Performance from Mills College.  She has studied dance in Africa, Cuba, Jamaica and the U.S.A. and has performed internationally in France, Italy, Japan, Senegal, Zimbabwe and many other places. chipaumire is a three-time New York Dance and Performance (aka “Bessie”) Awardee: in 2014 for the revival of her solo dark swan set as an ensemble piece on Urban Bush Women (UBW), in 2008 for her dance-theatre work, Chimurenga, and in 2007 for her body of work with UBW, where she was a featured performer for six years and Associate Artistic Director (2007-2008).