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nora chipaumire

N!GGA ©Ian Douglas 



GENERAL KEYWORDS: African female choreography, Autobiography, Animist technology, Black African body, Black Feminism, Democracy, Nhaka (inheritance), Punk, Shona Culture

CHOREOGRAPHIC WORKS: Café Müller; Dark Swan;The Dying Swan

PEOPLE: Bausch Pina, Fokine Michel, Mugabe Robert Gabriel, Graham Martha, Pavlova Anna, Paxton Steve, Wigman Mary

PLACES: Africa, Europe, Zimbabwe


CITATION: ​Interview with Nora Chipaumire, Susanne Franco, Venice, 08/02/2020. Project “Mnemedance”, Collection Mnemedance (#Mnemedance02) URL:<>, (accessed dd/mm/yyyy). 


general info


Feminist dance performer and choreographer NORA CHIPAUMIRE is being interviewed about the creative process of her choreographic works and autobiographical films as well as the transmission process of her dance knowledge. Beginning from the memories that nourished her artistic imaginary, she reveals that the universal topic of gender equality and specifically violence and women's situation in everyday life is at the core of her research. She also discusses how her cultural gaze and identity deriving from Shona African tradition enables her to filter the heritage of Western dance and the canon of European dance history by situating her work in a continuum of space and time. Her practice, known as Nhaka (meaning inheritance to Shona), questions what is a Black African body while her project Living Archive is centered around the notion of the body as an archive understood as bodily knowledge that when transmitted to others it enables dances, repertoires and techniques to stay alive and be preserved in all their multiple variations and manifestations.

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#PUNK  ©Ian Douglas

interview questions




What memory do you have of dances that enriched and stimulated your past, in your life and in your profession, from your childhood until nowadays?


How do you deal with a memory, for instance Cafe Müller, when you have this strong physical and emotional impact?


Could you briefly specify what you find so unique in Pina Bausch’s work?


What is the impact of your personal memories at a physical level?


What dance techniques have you studied and how have they been accumulated in your body?


Would you distinguish dance technique from other bodily practices? For instance, in your childhood were they clearly divided?


Steve Paxton states that it is easy to learn a dance technique but it is rather difficult to remove it from the body. What do you think?


Do you have a technique for tracing a specific practice or a movement sequence created in the past?


Much of your choreo-graphic work is auto-biographical and combines two ways of writing. How do you work with these two ways of narration?


Do you observe any difference between dance history and dance memory?


How and why did you decide to confront Dark Swan with a canonical piece of Western dance history such as Fokine’s ballet The Dying Swan?


What is the role of film in and beyond your auto-biographical work?


What is your project Living Archive about?


Do you have a repertoire that you also pass on to others?


How would you like to position yourself as an artist as part of dance history?


Why and when have you entered the punk world?


For you, what is the relationship between preservation, politics, practice and transmission to other generations or people in other contexts?


Have you ever worked in a museum?


100% POP ©Ian Douglas



NORA CHIPAUMIRE was born in 1965 in Mutare, Zimbabwe (then Umtali, Rhodesia) and is based in NYC. She has been challenging and embracing stereotypes of Africa, the black performing body, art and aesthetics since she started making dances in 1998.

Lately, she has been touring #PUNK 100% POP *NIGGA (verbalized as “Hashtag Punk, One Hundred Percent Pop and Star NIGGA”), a three-part live performance album which had its world premiere at The Kitchen in NYC in October 2018. Her other recent works include portrait of myself as my father (2016), RITE RIOT (2012) and Miriam (2012). She has been featured in several dance films and workshops transmitting her pieces (recently in digital spaces like Virtual Study for a Dark Swan 2020). Her long-term research project Nhaka, a technology-based practice and process to her artistic work, instigates and investigates the nature of black bodies and the products of their imaginations. ​ 


She received a Guggenheim Fellowship (2018), and is a four time Bessie Award winner. She was a proud recipient of the 2016 Trisha Mckenzie Memorial Award for her impact on the dance community in Zimbabwe, and was also nominated for a NAMA award as one of those exiled Zimbabweans making an impact on the arts at home and abroad in 2020. She is currently a Fellow at Quick Center for the Arts at Fairfield University (2020) and an Artist in Residence at the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, LMCC (2019-2021).

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