Acrobats in the Arena

Cirque Zuma Zuma showcases talent and culture to UWEC


Photo by Anna Mateffy

Story by Sam Martinez, Staff Writer

Not even a car accident leaving one performer briefly hospitalized could keep Cirque Zuma Zuma from putting on its show Thursday night in Zorn Arena.

Cirque Zuma Zuma, a group described as an African-style Cirque du Soleil, was on a 14-hour bus ride to Eau Claire when one of their vans slipped on some ice just south of Missouri. The incident left the van unusable and left group member Morikeba Kouyate temporarily hospitalized.

“I went to the hospital for my chest,” Kouyate said. “We’re all good now everybody else is okay.”

Kristin Schumacher, assistant director for the Activities, Involvement and Leadership office, said despite the ordeal of finding another van and checking in and out of a hospital, the group was only a little over an hour late and the evening show began as scheduled.

“When they got here they had the nicest attitude and they weren’t frazzled at all,” Schumacher said.

Cirque Zuma Zuma is a touring troupe of African dancers, acrobats, jugglers and more who annually stage more than 150 performances around the world.

The group entertained with an evening of singing, dancing and acrobatics, often all at the same time. They even included feats of jump roping and the Limbo into the nightly performance.

“I thought it would be like Cirque du Soleil, because I’ve seen those shows, only not as good,” audience member Travis Taran said. “But it was just as spectacular.”

Apart from dazzling audiences with acrobatics and juggling, the troupe also brought many African cultural dances to center stage such as one they performed when a woman gives birth.

Junior Annie Jackson heard about the show in a world music class. She said the show was more than entertainment, it was a learning experience.

“I liked hearing where the certain dances came from and hearing their origin,” Jackson said. “It was interesting learning how much they differ in one country.”

Despite visiting the hospital earlier in the day, Kouyate was at the show to sing, smile and play his Kora, an African stringed instrument similar to a harp.

“It’s so happy for us to show people what we have,” Kouyate said. “ And we live it all over the United States and Europe.”

The event was part of the Artist Series, which is funded through an allocation of segregated student fees by the Finance Commission of Student Senate. The next event in the series is on March 10 in Gantner Concert Hall in Haas, and features the Dali Quartet, a string band from Philadelphia play classical and Latin-American music.

“It’s so happy for us to show people what we have,” Kouyate said. “And we live it all over the United States and Europe.”