November 2016, Volume 20, Number 5

Cultural Spotlight

Nora Chipaumire
Nora Chipaumire

Challenging Perspectives

The MDC Live Arts performance series brings an eclectic mix of top-level national and international artists to Miami with the intention of creating meaningful engagement between these artists, their work, MDC students and the greater Miami community.

That programming mission was fulfilled earlier this fall in a performance by award-winning dancer/choreographer Nora Chipaumire, who continued her examination of race and gender in a profound and highly personal work titled Portrait of Myself as My Father.

“This work grew out of my own curiosity about who my father was,” said Chipaumire. “When I discovered I had siblings I didn’t know I had, I started asking questions about the father I had never known.”

In this celebration and critique of masculinity, the provocative work considers her father and more broadly, the African male, through the lens of colonialism. Tethered together in a boxing ring, Chipaumire and Senegalese dancer Pape Ibrahima Ndiaye (known as Kaolak) danced, struggled, and fought against prejudices, pressures and the weight of traditions and history. The New York Times described the work as “A no-holds-barred look at masculinity in African culture and the African male body.”

MDC Live Arts is known for inviting artists to tackle difficult issues and engage with the community through art.

“Each season of our series aims to examine relevant topics, offering a different door into an issue – something other than the sound bites we’re used to hearing from newscasts,” said MDC Live Arts Executive Director Kathryn García. “With this piece she’s really digging into perceptions of black males. It’s a particularly timely subject, given our current political climate and the ongoing conversation about black males, incarceration and police violence.”

MDC Live Arts has developed a significant relationship with Chipaumire over the past five years through a number of impactful visits to the College.

“She’s performed and led professional training for local artists on various occasions,” Garcia said. “What she always does is challenge perceptions.”

— GR

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