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Mama's Mystique 

Wednesday, Feb 5 2014

The 10th annual Black Choreographers Festival, offers the Bay Area premiere of Zimbabwe-born choreographer Nora Chipaumire's Miriam. Chipaumire, formerly a featured dancer with the Urban Bush Women, was inspired to create the work following the death of Grammy Award-winning South African civil rights activist and singer Miriam Makeba, known as "Mama Africa." Contemplating a woman who spent the first six months of her life in jail and who "just wanted to be a singer and stop cleaning houses before apartheid and the South African government got in the way," Chipaumire goes beyond Makeba's biography to consider how a woman becomes an icon, turning to the allure of the Virgin Mary and the mystique of evil ivory trader Kurtz's African mistress in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, and ultimately creating "a solo for two people," which Chipaumire shares with fiery actor/dancer Okwui Okpokwasili.

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts presents Nora Chipaumire: Miriam at 8 p.m. and continues through Feb. 15 at the YBCA Forum, 701 Mission St., S.F. Tickets are $25-$35; visit

Feb. 13-15, 8 p.m., 2014

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Irene Hsiao

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