Nora Chipaumire is a force of nature. The Zimbabwe-born, New York City-based choreographer has a style both visceral and regal, evoking a powerful and charismatic bird of prey. Chipaumire's creative goals are as fierce as her physical movements: "My work is total propaganda, unapologetic agitations for human rights," reads her website, and for the past decade her performances have engaged and interrogated African stereotypes and aesthetics. Miriam, Chipaumire's first character-driven piece, investigates the conflict between women's personal desires and public expectations, the burden of female objectification and the challenges of resistance. Miriam is both a tribute to legendary South African singer Miriam Makeba and an examination of the Christian iconography of Mary, with Chipaumire incorporating language and text into this dance-theater work. It's heady stuff, from a performer known for tackling gender and race with propulsive energy. Chipaumire and fellow dancer Okwui Okpokwasili are riveting, sinuous performers, and with a live sound-score by composer and pianist Omar Sosa, this promises to be a provocative and assertive world premiere.
Ant Hampton wants you to rethink audience participation. Wait, don't groan yet—Hampton specializes in autoteatro, in which unrehearsed participants follow a series of instructions, usually via headphone. Autoteatro participants generate and sustain the action themselves, repeatedly crossing the quiet line between performer and audience. But Hampton won't direct you to sing or dance before a gaping crowd, especially not in this collaboration with artist and writer Tim Etchells. In The Quiet Volume, which has been performed in libraries worldwide (for TBA, it will call the Multnomah County Central Library home), participants are issued iPods and headphones and then seated at tables stacked high with books. For the next 50 minutes, they'll flip pages, turn books upside down, trace their fingers along text, scrutinize their hands. It encourages contemplation of the library as a place of silence and noise; as a site of public gathering and private concentration.
SEE IT: Miriam is at Portland State University's Lincoln Performance Hall, 1620 SW Park Ave. 8:30 pm Friday-Saturday, Sept. 7-8. $20-$25. The Quiet Volume is at Multnomah County Central Library, 801 SW 10th Ave. Thursday, Sept. 6-Sunday, Sept. 16. Exact times vary; performances begin every 20 minutes. Call 224-7422 for reservations. $8-$10.