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Skirball Cultural Center

2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90049 - (310) 440-4500


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Skirball Cultural Center presents


In her L.A. debut, the acclaimed Zimbabwean dancer/choreographer and
2011 USA Ford Fellow performs three solo works in association with
the exhibition Women Hold Up Half the Sky

Friday, January 27–Saturday, January 28 • 8:00 p.m.
$15 General; $12 Skirball Members; $10 Full-Time Students
Advance reservations: or (877) SCC-4TIX


LOS ANGELES—The Skirball Cultural Center presents the Los Angeles debut of contemporary African dance artist Nora Chipaumire on Friday, January 27, at 8:00 p.m. The Zimbabwe-born dancer/choreographer—who has earned critical praise for her emotionally charged, politically incisive original works—will perform Convoys, Curfews, and Roadblocks, from her Bessie Award–winning masterpiece Chimurenga. Chipaumire will also present Dark Swan, a meditation on a woman’s struggle to be free, and offer audiences a special preview of her newest work, Miriam, based upon the life of South African singer and civil rights activist Miriam Makeba. A second performance takes place on Saturday, January 28, at 8:00 p.m.

Chipaumire is presented at the Skirball in association with the exhibition Women Hold Up Half the Sky, on view through May 20, 2011. Inspired by the critically hailed book Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, by Pulitzer Prize–winning journalists Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, Women Hold Up Half the Sky addresses the injustice and violence perpetrated against women and girls around the world as the central moral challenge of our time. Like the book, the exhibition spotlights women in developing nations who are leading the way in effecting change for themselves, their families, and their communities.

“When we began to plan for the exhibition,” explains Jordan Peimer, Vice President and Director of Programs, “it was critical that we identify and showcase women artists who take down perceptions of women as mere victims and of Africa as nothing more than a nameless, faceless place of famine, disease, and never-ending strife. For me, Nora Chipaumire is one such artist. A powerful dancer and an accomplished choreographer, she addresses death and dying in her native Zimbabwe but ultimately celebrates self-determination, courage, perseverance, hope.”

In her artist’s statement, Chipaumire asserts: "My goal is to move people to action. My work is about people. My work is total propaganda; unapologetic agitations for human rights. My work is township! It is urban! It is now! It is not about that colonial-post-colonial-geo-political Africa. It is about the African people agitating for fair trade, not aid.”

On both nights of the performances, the Skirball will keep the exhibition Women Hold Up Half the Sky open until 8:00 p.m. Ticketholders may arrive early to visit the gallery for free.


About the Works

Dark Swan is a solo dance piece—both choreographed and performed by Chipaumire—that follows the perilous journey of one woman as she loses her bearings, her kin, and her country. Itis inspired by the short balletThe Dying Swan (1905), made famous by the legendary Anna Pavlova and choreographed by Mikhail Fokine to music by Camille Saint-Saëns.

Convoys, Curfews, and Roadblocks is a major excerpt from Chimurenga, a performance memoir by Chipaumire named after the Shona word for “revolutionary struggle.” It brings to life Chipaumire’s personal history growing up during Zimbabwe’s second War of Liberation, relaying memories of everyday life in her war-torn homeland as a way to address the social and political geography of southern Africa. In 2008, Chimurenga was awarded a New York Dance and Performance “Bessie” Award.

The Skirball performance will conclude with a sneak preview of Miriam, Chipaumire’s latest work. For Miriam, Chipaumire drew inspiration from the life and persona of South African singer and civil rights activist Miriam Makeba, widely revered as Mama Afrika, as well as from Chipaumire’s own experiences and dreams as a self-exiled Zimbabwean. For Chipaumire, Miriam is an investigation of fame, specifically the burden of a single person to represent an entire culture.


Praise for Nora Chipaumire

“Thoughtfulness is a crucial element in [Chipaumire’s] performing. No matter what bitter, angry, wild explosion of movement she lashes herself into, you can see it begin to well up like the stirrings of a volcano.”—The Village Voice

“Strength, power, emotion, history… the words that come to mind while watching contemporary African dance artist Nora Chipaumire.”—National Public Radio

“Her dancing hits you with a vengeance.”—The Phoenix


About the Artist

Since 2005, Nora Chipaumire has toured extensively throughout North America, Europe, and Africa, most recently performing in Bergamo, Italy, for the 2010 Takunda Prize, presented by Cesvi, an international humanitarian organization. She received a 2008 New York Dance and Performance (a.k.a. "Bessie”) Award for her choreographic work Chimurenga; and a 2007 New York Dance and Performance Award in the performance category for her work with Urban Bush Women, where she also served as Associate Artistic Director. She has been honored with the Mariam McGlone Emerging Choreographer Award from Wesleyan University Center for the Arts (2007). Chipaumire's work has received funding from the National Dance Project (NDP), Rockefeller MAP Fund, Creative Capital, and the National Endowment for the Arts. She is featured in the documentary Movement (R)evolution Africa (a story of an art form in four acts) and the focus of two dance films: Nora, directed by Alla Kovgan and David Hinton, and Dark Swan, directed by Laurie Coyle. Chipaumire was recently named a USA Ford Fellow for her achievement in dance.

Chipaumire studied dance formally and informally in her native Zimbabwe, Senegal, the United States, Cuba, and Jamaica. She is a graduate of the University of Zimbabwe’s School of Law and holds graduate degrees from Mills College of Oakland, CA in dance (MA) and in choreography and performance (MFA).


The William C. Bannerman Foundation
Jo Bernard
The Boeing Company
Carsey Family Foundation
Commonwealth Cares Fund, Inc.
Rebekah and Howard Farber
Phyllis K. Friedman
Girl Effect
Conrad N. Hilton Foundation
Jewish World Watch
joinFITE and Dermalogica
Miriam Muscarolas and Grant Abramson
Eileen Harris Norton Foundation
Eugene and Ruth Roberts
Fredric M. Roberts
Roth Family Foundation
Ariane and Alienor Sauvage
Southern California Gas Company
Specialty Family Foundation
Julie Waxman and Seth Freeman
Women’s Foundation of California 

89.3 KPCC
LA Yoga
Los Angeles magazine


About the Skirball

The Skirball Cultural Center is dedicated to exploring the connections between 4,000 years of Jewish heritage and the vitality of American democratic ideals. It welcomes and seeks to inspire people of every ethnic and cultural identity. Guided by our respective memories and experiences, together we aspire to build a society in which all of us can feel at home. The Skirball Cultural Center achieves its mission through educational programs that explore literary, visual, and performing arts from around the world; through the display and interpretation of its permanent collections and changing exhibitions; through an interactive family destination inspired by the Noah’s Ark story; and through outreach to the community.


Visiting the Skirball

The Skirball Cultural Center is located at 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90049. Free on-site parking is available; street parking is strictly prohibited. The Skirball is also accessible by Metro Rapid Bus 761. Museum hours: Tuesday–Friday 12:00–5:00 p.m.; Saturday–Sunday 10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.; closed Mondays and holidays. Museum admission: $10 General; $7 Seniors, Full-Time Students, and Children over 12; $5 Children 2–12. Exhibitions are always free to Skirball Members and Children under 2. Exhibitions are free to all visitors on Thursdays. For general information, the public may call (310) 440-4500 or visit The Skirball is also home to Zeidler’s Café, which serves innovative California cuisine in an elegant setting, and Audrey’s Museum Store, which sells books, contemporary art, music, jewelry, and more.

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