PORTRAIT OF MYSELF AS MY FATHER
September 18, 2016
Tethered to a long white bungee cord, she strains against her harness, taunting the crowd seated on sides of the boxing ring arena. This is Nora Chipaumaire’s new work dedicated to her father—or more to the point, understanding her father. A fierce performer in her own right, Ms. Chipaumire always exudes the courage of a warrior. This was no exception.
The first entry in BAM’s fall season, audience members crammed the Fisher Theater to watch Ms. Chipaumire. Text, driving music and movement spring from the trio’s criss-crossing patterns and gymnastic feats. Born in Zimbabwe, Ms. Chiapaumire collaborates with another beguiling performer from Senegalese Kaolock as well as the evening’s restless M.C. Shamar Watt.
Tackling stereotypical ideas about men, particularly black men, Chipaumire’s “Portrait of Myself as My Father,” restlessly stalks the stage space with Chipaumaire stridings, hitting power poses as Kaolock transforms into a wild animal, growling out fevered sounds.
Mr. Watt, gamely shouting out comments, and re-positioning floor lights, takes off at one point racing across the stage and I kid you not, leaps over the boxing ring ropes like an Olympian clearing hurdles, then jumping up and grabbing the pipes just under the balcony for a couple of pull-ups. This typhoon action continued for about 12 crossings. That breathless action, as well as Chipaumire’s sly grin sum up the evening’s production. Near the end, when the molecules start to settle you hear “What is this about Nora?” …..”It’s the manifesto.”
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis