STORY WRITTEN BY TARA LYNN JOHNSON
For Digital First Media
Want some non-stop action designed to keep you on the edge of your seat? That’s the promise of Cirque Zuma Zuma, which will tumble, dance, contort, and otherwise entertain on the stage at West Chester University (WCU).
The African troupe is the latest performer in the “WCU Live!” series, which presents various international artists in performances featuring dance, music, and theater, as well as family productions.
“‘WCU Live!’ is meant to enrich the lives of the West Chester and Chester County communities and promote the WCU campus as a resource and center for arts and culture,” said Madeline Bell, Program Coordinator for the Office of Cultural and Community Affairs, in an email interview. “We aim for our programming to be as diverse and eclectic as possible.”
Throughout the year, performers of varying types take the stage, all aimed at entertaining the entire family. What made her want to bring Zuma Zuma to the WCU campus?
“They were perfect based on their obvious cultural influence and the excellent artistic quality that they had to offer,” Bell said. “Their show is both an aural and visual experience, as well as fun for patrons of all ages.”
Cirque Zuma Zuma is unlike anything audiences have ever seen before, according to their manager Wendy Kay.
“Many describe it as an African-style Cirque du Soleil, such is the standard of the performers and the quality of the show’s live musical score,” she said in an email interview.
More than 120 performers are part of the company, though not all perform in every city they visit. The troupe is described on the group’s website as a “high-energy dance act, part Cirque du Soleil, part Harlem Globetrotters, above all… fast paced and full of acrobatic ingenuity.” The company has training schools in Kenya and Tanzania. Its African roots are a large part of what it makes it special, since Africa is the “cradle of all cultures, the ultimate source for all music, dance, and ritual for all humanity. The thought of this rich continent brings in mind at once mysticism, magic, and excitement.”
Cirque Zuma Zuma performers will showcase a variety of skills, including singing, dancing, pole acts, acrobats, balancing acts, comedy, tumbling, contortionists, percussion, and juggling.
“It takes strength, balance, and practice to become as skilled as these artists are,” Kay said.
The group was introduced to a wide American audience during the sixth season of the show “America’s Got Talent” (the winner, though, was jazz singer Landau Eugene Murphy Jr.).
Interacting with audiences anywhere is thrilling. They’ve toured Europe, Africa – all over. And now they’re coming to Chester County, Pa. No matter where they perform, they just like being on stage. “It’s exciting to tour live,” Kay said, “and bring their African culture to all audiences around the world.”