Tumbuka returns with classic dance piece

HARARE - New York-based Zimbabwean performer/choreographer Nora Chipaumire is slowly becoming Tumbuka Dance Company’s knight in shining armour.

The Mutare-born Chipaumire, who donated her production titled Portrait of Myself as My Father’ to Tumbuka last year, has returned to Zimbabwe’s leading contemporary dance company with an acclaimed dance piece called Dark Swan.

Tumbuka with Chipaumire as the choreographer, will perform Dark Swan on Friday at the headquarters of Meikles Stores, located at 90 Speke Avenue.

According to the New York-based dancer, Dark Swan is a “sensual work exploring the presentation and representation of the African female body, and celebrating the African/black. Michel Fokine‘s Dying Swan allowed me to tap into a known/unknown place,” she said.

Chipaumire, who is on a month-long residency with Tumbuka Dance Company, explained how Dark Swan came about.

“I made Dark Swan in 2005 in an effort to respond and acknowledge contemporary dance’s debt to those Russian masters and their contribution to the art of dance.

“I also made the solo black and African in response to classic white/ black swans and to celebrate my mother/African/black women who refuse to wither away and die or die beautifully.”

A Hodder Fellow and winner of the 2014 New York Dance and Performance Bessie Award for Outstanding Revival for ‘Dark Swan,’ she has consistently fought against attempts to pigeonhole African dance.

“Yes, I am born and raised in Africa, and yes I am African. I am not running away from that. But there is a real confusion in what is African. African is also contemporary and avant garde.

“And so I started at that point, at being fed up with labels being put on who I am and the expectations of what my work should be. And so I wanted to use this very classic dance and classic music to sort of try and put cold water on people’s assumptions,” she told the Miami New Times recently.

While with the Tumbuka Dance Company, Chipaumire will carry out a multi-layered project that seeks to create a “living and virtual dance archive” dubbed Nhaka Yepasi.

She will also facilitate an in-depth analysis of contemporary and traditional dance forms as part of an initiative being supported by Nhaka Yepasi Research Centre, the Meikles Foundation and Dance Trust of Zimbabwe.

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