‘Portrait of Myself as My Father’ Review

‘Portrait of Myself as My Father’ was a one of a kind performance by Peak Performances.

Peak Performances brings another successful show with ‘Portrait of Myself as My Father.’

portrait of myself as my father
Photo courtesy of Peak Performances.

Dancer, performer and choreographer Nora Chipaumire’s world premiere of her very own piece Portrait of Myself as My Father was brought to the Alexander Kasser Theater at Montclair State University this past weekend by Peak Performances. This one of a kind performance explored African American masculinity through a number of physical body movements, cultural traditions and impressive acting.

“I have developed a process and work that embraces and acknowledges that an African body can be simultaneously avant-garde and guardian of ancient,” said Chipaumire. “The intersection of these modes of expression has helped me create a dynamic and complex physical language. I am currently invested in language building as it is my belief that the language of the body can influence or create economies and engage civic society.”

The show took over the community for four days of original and exciting dancing and acting. Chipaumire performed alongside Pape Ibrahima N’diaye – better known as Kaolack – and Shamar Watt, two award-winning and extremely talented artists. These three dancers all embody a unique passion for dancing aimed toward enhancing the mind, body and soul, creating a genuine and charismatic atmosphere.

The performance was set in an on-stage boxing ring where Chipaumire and Kaolack put on an emotional duet as Watt took on the sidelines acting as the “coach.” Chipaumire’s inspiration behind this was Muhammad Ali, a well-known professional black boxer. Chipaumire explained that men hold imagination in sports, therefore she wanted to stage her piece around a black male in a sports setting to create a breakthrough African American superhero.

With that, Chipaumire incorporated a variety of aspects to her number in order to express her views on colonization, the workplace, labor, relationships and the obliteration of African American families. She placed an importance on the role of males and their importance within the family.

”When I discovered ‘concert dance’ I hoped to use it to manifest the avant-garde,” said Chipaumire. “At the time, I was overwhelmed by the idea and expectation, that an African artist should be responsible for the rich and complicated past, the ancient cultures and rituals, to be embraced by audiences at home and abroad.”

This performance was a captivating and incredible experience for all that attended, leaving them with a lifelong memory of Chipaumire’s fascinating work. For more information on upcoming performances by Nora Chipaumire, visit norachipaumire.com and for more information regarding Peak Performances and local shows in Montclair, visit peakperfs.org.  

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