“Give her a name, breathe life into her, make her Miriam, she will embody all of the elements of Makeba, of the Virgin Mary and Nora Chipaumire.”

Posted in Uncategorized | February 9, 2012 | by emilyharney | Leave a Comment

NOra Chipaumire Read & Reflect Group

On February 1st, MAPP gathered a group of diverse, creative, really smart women to join a Read & Reflect group to follow and support Nora Chipaumire’s creative process toward her upcoming dance-theater work, MIRIAM.

Ten women, many strangers to each other at the beginning of the evening, gathered at the home of MAPP’s Executive Director Ann Rosenthal for the first in a series of gatherings which will investigate the ideas behind MIRIAM, provide feedback and information to Nora as she develops the project, and provide an opportunity for the women to get to know each other as well as Nora and her collaborators.

Nora introduced herself and talked about where she is with MIRIAM—trying to make a piece with a simple, beautiful name, taking on questions of public and private responsibility inspired by the lives of Miriam Makeba, the Virgin Mary and herself. What kind of choice did these women have in their iconographic roles? What did they gain, and maybe more importantly, what did they give up or lose in the process? What are their demons? And how can this struggle be named, embodied and placed within the performative environment, confronted by the gaze of the audience?

Looking back on it, it was a deep and provocative beginning to a conversation that we thankfully have months to continue. We placed a lot of issues on the table and dug into the first layer of a few of them:

On the gaze:

There is also the gaze of the fan base, which keeps you in this limited view. Miriam Makeba can’t do an album where she is picking her nose and saying “the ANC is complicated, the ANC is sexist… and I’m just gonna sing these songs where I’m in short skirts and are cute and have nothing of substance because I’m done being political for a bit.” She doesn’t get that option. Even though they are adoring, they are adoring of safety, they are adoring of what they know of you so if you switch paths suddenly, you risk losing them. Which makes me think of what you said at the beginning… that you bring people in, but you’re trying to challenge them: I am going to take that risk, I’m willing to upset the fan base and give you what you don’t expect. – Chitra Aiyar

On the exhilaration of invisibility or anonymity:

Possibly, the biggest positive about being immigrant, foreign, expat, outsider—whatever way you transform from one border into another—people don’t have a sense of you, so you have a slightly better chance of coming up with who you might actually be if you were not on the backdrop of that thing that you are always against, which is home. Home has this amazing way of defining you and redefining you and constricting you, and at the same time that is what is wonderful about home, that it is such a definitive space. – Wangechi Mutu

On being an individual:

Some of the exhilaration that I find is having separated myself from family, to Nora the individual, I’m not trying to represent Africa orZimbabwe… and when I use that language I’m hoping for a reaction. The joy comes from people understanding that that doesn’t exist…. The exhilaration comes from trying to find the singularity, this character, who is a complete human being and not just Mama Africa…. I am an individual. And this is a very profound idea coming from where I come from, a tradition that thinks of the collective. – Nora

Since then I’ve been thinking a lot about the agency that women have, and the challenges to the expression of that agency we all face to greater and lesser degrees. What quality is it that makes a person willing to take on those challenges? And does it feel like a choice or does it feel more like survival?

Thank you to Los Muñequitos de Matanzas

Posted in Uncategorized | May 12, 2011 | by emilyharney | (1) Comment

It was an amazing month, having Los Muñequitos de Matanzas back in the U.S. after nearly a decade. We are so grateful to everyone who turned out for a performance or a workshop, and to everyone who hosted and toasted these great musicians.  We hope it’s a real step forward for more people-to-people exchange between our country and Cuba.

At Los Muñequitos final show in NYC, Robert Browning brought MAPP’s Ann Rosenthal onstage during his opening remarks to hail MAPP’s leadership in bringing Los Muñequitos to the U.S.  Ann’s eloquent remarks about MAPP’s decision to seize the moment after the 2008 presidential election, and to open the door to renewed cultural exchange with Cuba, were greeted with enthusiastic applause.

For MAPP, the evening grew even sweeter when, during the second half of the show, Los Muñequitos stopped playing and their manager Caridad Diez came onto the stage to read a statement of appreciation.  She expressed their deep gratitude to all the people they’d met on the tour, but especially to MAPP, not only for bringing them to the U.S., but for doing so, as Cari said, in a way that allowed them to perform with dignity.  She called Ann up to the stage and presented her with beautiful flowers from the group.

Then they went back to playing–and brought down the house!

Let us just say, the pleasure and gratitude was ours too, to the Muñequitos for sharing their music and culture so openly with all of us.

Barbaro Ramos leading a dance workshop with Max Pollak at the Cornerstone Center for the Arts

Joshua Lubin-Levy interview with Dean Moss

Posted in Uncategorized | April 19, 2011 | by emilyharney | Leave a Comment

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This interview took place on February 9, 2011 to discuss Nameless forest, a multidisciplinary performance work conceived by Dean Moss and developed in collaboration with contemporary Korean sculptor, installation artist and poet, Sungmyung Chun. Nameless forest is co-produced by Gametophyte Inc. and MAPP International Productions, and is scheduled to premiere at The Kitchen May 19-21 & 26-28, 2011.

Josh Lubin-Levy: Before we talk about Nameless forest, I wanted to ask you a little about the process of choreographing this work.  There seems to be a contradiction between the often violent content of your work, and the affectionate and caring way I’ve seen you interact with your performers in the rehearsal room.  What is the relationship of this caring nature to bringing such a visceral choreography to your dancers?

Dean Moss: Well, you know in American society violence is so much a substitute for sex.  And so I think it’s an incredibly intimate thing to be violent, especially to be violent on stage.  And part of the use of violence on stage is approaching metaphor in a very particular way – in a very direct way.  To get a performer to go with you, you have to be intimate with that performer.  And you have to have a kind of trust with that performer.  Developing a mode in which you can work with the performer to bring out an activity they might not be comfortable with.  Developing that process is really important to me because I want the use of violence to be specific and I need the performer’s understanding. I need this to be read as behavior in the performer, so that it’s generated by the performer and not that I am directing them.  Part of the interest in my work and part of the reason my work has moved into audience participation is because I am interested in behavior and what happens when you have a kind of behavior-as-form presented on stage.  Read the rest of this entry »

A letter from Louis Head

Posted in Uncategorized | April 15, 2011 | by emilyharney | Leave a Comment

From: Louis Head
Sent: Wednesday, April 13, 2011 8:23 AM

Hi – First, this not so personal letter is being sent to let you know, if you did not already, that the greatest rumba ensemble in the world Los Muñequitos de Matanzas, direct from Matanzas, Cuba, will be here in New Mexico this coming Monday, April 18 in Albuquerque, and Tuesday, April 19 in Santa Fe.

But then also I want to remind all of you receiving this that you played a significant role in making this happen by joining thousands of artists, arts presenters, writers, cultural entrepreneurs and cultural workers throughout the country in demanding – first of Bush, and then in no less compromising terms of Obama – that Cuban cultural workers, artists, intellectuals and others be allowed to enter the United States to share with their counterparts and the public here. It was an effort far ahead of the curve of the Obama Administration, and it worked. The first Cuban artists since 2003 were allowed into the U.S. during the summer of 2009. Negotiating the terrain necessary to procure visas remains onerous, but this and related efforts have also resulted in the return to the policies of the Clinton Administration to allow some travel by U.S. citizens to Cuba.

Maybe it is cliché to quote Frederick Douglass that “power concedes nothing without a demand.” Perhaps though, given everything we have witnessed since January 2009 – and also as we approach the 150th Anniversary of the abolition of chattel slavery, to which Douglass dedicated his life – it is apt to reflect on that thought. We should also realize that, opportunities to simply see such talent from Cuba can be taken away in the blink of an eye again, as happened in 2003 under the previous administration. Let’s not lose sight of this.

I meanwhile hope that everyone can make it to one of the appearances, or to the Wednesday evening workshop in Albuquerque, as we welcome Los Muñequitos de Matanzas to New Mexico for the first time.

We should thank those presenters in New Mexico that have taken on the still risky venture of presenting works by Cuban artists and cultural workers during the past year. Let’s all support them.

I especially want to thank Outpost Productions, the National Hispanic Cultural Center and the Lensic Performing Arts Center, along with our good friends at MAPP International Productions in New York, for bringing Los Muñequitos to us next week.

Louis Head




MAPP Challenge Bonus Outtakes!

Posted in Uncategorized | April 14, 2011 | by emilyharney | Leave a Comment

We had fun sharing these videos with you over the last couple weeks and hope you enjoyed them too!  A BIG thank you to all of the people who joined the MAPP Artist Challenge and helped us not only meet, but exceed, our goal!