New York/Zimbabwe dancer/choreographer, Nora Chipaumire premiered part one of rite riot, on FIAF’s Crossing the Line Festival at FIAF’s Le Skyroom, October 3 -5. Chipaumire wanted to be a part of the centenary celebration of the ballet that’s happen in the world of dance.
There is no large cast, no large orchestra and certainly no large set. However, there is Chipaumire, a DJ (Philip White – composition and sound design), and a vertical box made of wood and Plexiglas with openings on two sides (Peter Born – Scenic Design). The audience sat around the box, the skylight covered part of the ceiling, and voyeuristically we peer into Chipaumire’s process. On display in a black shirt covered with shiny safety pins, a skirt, black boots, sparkly makeup and bright lipstick, she soon stripped, purposefully slow, into red panties, neon green bra and is barefooted.
She asks,”… is this a female/woman’s manifesto…am I caged. We wonder, is she confined, do we see her as an object of fasciation? The lights cast mesmerizing silhouettes on the walls and on the skylight and she is everywhere. Pose. Pose. Pause. Smile. Lift a fist. Circle her hips. Shapes evolve slowly at first, covering all four corners. She lifts one heel, her torso softens as she folds forward, her head visible only through legs. Balance. Rise. Stare. Eventually her movements grow, pick up speed, her breath is harsh now, it’s heavy, she stomps, she shakes her butt, her makeup is smeared, she sweats a lot, Public Enemy blares, juxtaposed against a few of those famous first chords by Stravinsky. Sacrifice? Purposefully slow, she re-dresses, putting on the black jacket, shirt, skirt and boots. And to funky West African music she dances until she is done. Black out.
Chipaumire flips the Stavinsky/Nijinsky canon, she is, as she says, the chosen one and we look on as the villagers. Do we see her as “…an angry black woman; African woman?” Is there rage, a riot? She demands that we think about this.
See my interview with Chipaumire here - http://www.charmainewarren.com/1/previous/2.html