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Nora Chipaumire with Thomas Mapfumo/The Blacks Unlimited
lions will roar, swans will fly, angels will wrestle heaven, rains will break: gukurahundi

Featured image

An African woman wearing running shoes is hunched over in a running position with one arm behind her and the other close to her heart on the edge of the horizon with only overcast clouds behind her.
From the film Nora by Alla Kovgan and David Hinton Photo: Mkrtich Malkhasyan

Quote

Her dancing hits you with a vengeance.

—The Boston Phoenix

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A visionary contemporary dance artist, Nora Chipaumire speaks to the human condition with power, authority, and urgency. Her newest project is a cross-generational collaboration with living legend Thomas Mapfumo, who will be performing with his band Blacks Unlimited in an acoustic on-stage setting. Living as exiles in an increasingly globalized world. Nora and Thomas unpack the experience of the migrant, using their impassioned voices to speak about living as Africans in an increasingly borderless world.

Running time: 60 minutes

Video

About the Artists

This project marks the MCA debut for both Nora Chipaumire and Thomas Mapfumo. They work in the intertwined forms of dance and music, and this is their first collaboration. They are of different generations—Nora came of age listening to Thomas's music—yet both are living in the United States, self-exiled from Zimbabwe.

Nora Chipaumire
has toured the North Ameriac, Europe, and Africa since 2005 as a solo artist. Her multimedia dance works are "transnational, unafraid, and eager to burn cultural, creative, and geographic boundaries" (Village Voice). She also dances with and serves as associate director of the renowned dance company Urban Bush Women, and has worked with a wide range of choreographers including Germaine Acogny and Reggie Wilson. She is featured in the documentary film Movement (R)evolution Africa, and the dance film Nora by Alla Kovgan and David Hinton. She is a graduate of the University of Zimbabwe's School of Law, and holds graduate degrees in dance and choreography from Mills College.

Thomas Mapfumo is known as "The Lion of Zimbabwe" for his immense popularity and for the political influence he wields through his music. He created the style of music-chimurenga, which means struggle in the Shona language-to accompany lyrics that called for the violent overthrow of his country's white minority rule. Mapfumo was sent to prison camp on charges of subversion in 1977. He arranged his release by agreeing to a special concert for his country's political leaders, but then played them only his most indignant material. Mapfumo formed his band Blacks Unlimited after Zimbabwe's 1978 independence. The band's celebration songs turned to protest—speaking out against false leaders, alcoholism, AIDS and domestic violence, among other things, while borrowing from mbira-based traditional music, reggae, R&B and African Jazz. After years of harassment, Mapfumo moved with his family to Oregon in the late 1990s. Born in 1945, he continues as a creative force, making music that is graceful, defiant, and truthful.

Funding

Lions will roar is made possible in part by support from the National Performance Network (NPN) Community Fund and Performance Residency Program. Major contributors of NPN include the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Ford Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts (a federal agency), the MetLife Foundation and the Nathan Cummings Foundation. For more information, visit npnweb.org.