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This ‘Lion’ roars for two Zimbabwean exiles

Two Zimbabwean greats combine for a poetic fusion of dance and music this month.

In a new collaboration between choreographer Nora Chipaumire and Afro-pop legend Thomas Mapfumo, running May 21 and 22 at the Kumble Theater, even the title is poetry: “Lions Will Roar, Swans Will Fly, Angels Will Wrestle Heaven, Rains Will Break: Gukurahundi.”

Both dancer and musician are in exile from their native country, but their homeland remains integral to their art. In “Lions Will Roar,” making its New York premiere at Kumble, Chipaumire explores the migrant experience within and outside of Africa and examines how the continent is portrayed to a western, globalized world.

Moving solo or with dancer Souleymane Badolo, the Bessie Award winner is accompanied by the buoyant melodies of Mapfumo and his band, The Blacks Unlimited, playing live on stage.

“It’s the biggest, most critical collaboration I have done so far,” said Chipaumire.

The piece also uses video projection to explore what it means to be away from home. Though Chipaumire’s emotive physicality and Mapfumo’s intoxicating rhythms should be enough to draw you in to the poetry.

“Lions Will Roar, Swans Will Fly, Angels Will Wrestle Heaven, Rains Will Break: Gukurahundi,” presented by 651 ARTS, in association with Dance Theater Workshop, at the Kumble Theater for the Performing Arts at Long Island University [Flatbush Avenue at DeKalb Avenue in Downtown, (718) 488-1624], May 21–22 at 8 pm. Tickets $25. For info, visit

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