DiverseWorks presents Miriam, a dance-theater performance by choreographer Nora Chipaumire and produced by MAPP International Productions. With Miriam, Chipaumire creates her first character-driven work — a deeply personal performance that reverberates with tensions between public expectations and private desires, between objectification and power, and between darkness and light.
Miriam invites the audience into an immersive experience of being an outsider, requiring the engagement of all five senses.
The inspiration for Miriam springs from the cultural and political milieu of Chipaumire's southern African girlhood, her self-exile to the United States, and her self-discovery as anartist. Additional literary and legendary influences — the writings of Joseph Conrad and novelist Chenjerai Hove, the life of South African singer and activist Miriam Makeba, and the Christian iconography of Mary — come into the work as layers of text, sound and image that enrich the mysterious and haunting world of Chipaumire's creation.
In the performance, the persona embodied by Chipaumire emerges from a pile of rocks onstage to convey a woman's struggles with the burden of objectification and the weight of resistance in a world defined largely by others. Her efforts are abetted by an otherworldly character, both angel and devil, performed by Okwui Okpokwasili. In their interplay, Miriam renders in vivid images the intensity of women who fight to create themselves despite the dual legacies of strict cultural traditions and imperialist racial views that define female beauty and power.