A Dance Review by, Johanna Vermeer for Look At Flatbush
nora chipaumire: portrait of myself as my father
Pape Ibrahima N’diaye (aka Kaolack)
Original music/soundscore by Philip White
at BAM Fisher, as part of the NEXT WAVE Festival
September 14, 2016
Set in a boxing ring, this match never goes past Round One and although much energy and sweat is spent, the bout does not produce a winner. Instead we see a whimsical, spellbinding performance that is part slapstick, dancefest and punk concert. But the undercurrent is of a more serious nature and concerns the father who Chipaumire barely knew.
Chipaumire was born in Zimbabwe. Her father, Webster Barnabas Chipaumire was born in 1938 and died in 1980. In April 2014, she returned to her father’s village in search of a way to draw his portrait.
Chipaumire is the Master of Ceremonies and oversees the proceedings. She poses the question: “How do you become a man? A black man? A black, African man?” Round One. There is Champion (Kaolack) who slowly rises from his corner as if waking from an afternoon nap. She commands him to move and thus sets into motion a obstacle course that represents the challenges her father must have endured.
both prods him and imitates him. Not clarifying exactly what their relationship is (father-daughter? master-slave?) and where the boundaries lie, makes for an engrossing, puzzling and sometimes shocking experience.
The Ringmaster (Watt) serves both as stage hand and as lyrical counterweight, creating a frantic, circus-like atmosphere.
Having never seen any of her work, it was an amazing tour de force of relentless energy, theatrical cunning and old/new-fashioned spectacle. The mingling of movement and sound, music, whistles and grunts and howls left an impression of “I don’t know exactly what I just saw but it was great”.
That’s what magic does.
Premiers in Paris, September 28 – October 1, 2016 @ Théâtre de la Ville. Tickets