MapFund

About the Grant

$30,000 to support Miriam (MAP 2011), a new dance piece written, choreographed, and performed by Nora Chipaumire.

About the Project

Miriam is a full-evening, solo dance-theater work—written, choreographed, and performed by Nora Chipaumire—that explores the tension between the private desires and public expectations of an African woman seeking a full, independent creative life. Inspired by Chipaumire’s own history and by the life of legendary South African artist Miriam Makeba, Miriam draws on the realities and fantasies of exile and success—of staying connected to one’s culture while achieving fame far from home. Chipaumire’s script uses truths and speculations from Makeba’s life, as well as events and dreams from her own to create a fictional character who constructs her own image and struggles to live within it in order to have an artistic life; or, what John Berger describes as “the woman artist as her own subject and object.”

Reflecting the non-linear nature of the text, the music and stage environment are suggestive rather than literal. Composer and musician Omar Sosa’s score reflects his Afro-Cuban and jazz background while referencing mid-20th century township jazz. Visual designer Olivier Clausse is creating atmospheric lighting and video imagery that evoke settings in Africa and the United States—from family homes to township nightclubs, concert stages and dressing rooms. By fathoming the complex life journey of Makeba, as well as her struggles with sustaining artistic voice, Miriam portrays one woman’s journey while asking the broader question: What has truly changed for African female artists from Makeba’s era to our time?


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Nora Chipaumire



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