Our family was lucky enough to attend the opening night of Cirque Africa's Australian tour last night. If you haven't heard of it, Cirque Africa is a 90 minute acrobatic circus performance that has been touring the globe. Now it's our turn.
Aerial artists, jugglers, stilt dancers, contortionists, clowns and more show a fantastic diversity of skill and entertainment. While the core of the 38 strong cast is from Tanzania, the show draws influence from the musical cultures of Kenya, Ethiopia, Ghana, Gambia and Zimbabwe.
There are no performing monkeys, agro-looking lions or deafening motorbikes swirling around flames of fire in this show. There are simply people and music. Not ordinary people, like us, who groan as we get out of bed listening to our backs creak. These are phenomenal performers that have more bend than a yoga instructor on muscle-relaxants and more strength than a top shelf whiskey.
We watched in utter amazement (and sometimes with hands over our faces, too frightened to look) and wished we could bottle their energy. They certainly took “core exercises” to a new level.
Our children, aged from 4 to 11, were completely mesmerised. It's unusual for them to sit still for that length of time without asking for food but Cirque Africa was so engaging, they couldn't look away to request anything from me. Win-win! They were particularly taken with the youngest member of the cast, Leul Belay, a boy around eight who was fearlessly flipped by his fellow performer Nahon Wosene in some scary acrobatic artwork.
I have to admit, as I watched the jugglers doing an enthralling ball-bouncing act, I was thinking to myself “our kids should get off the screens and get out into the yard more often. If they practiced some of these skills, they may well end up in the circus!” Slight diversion, I realise.
Backed by an eight piece orchestra from Zanzibar and Zimbabwe, the live music which was composed just for the Australian tour will make you want to dance in - and out of - your seat. If you're lucky (or unlucky), you may be selected from the crowd by the hilarious 'Papa Africa' (aka Winston Ruddle - producer and director of the show) and required to perform in his mime band. All under the wordless instructions from his whistle.
Overriding all the acrobatic feats was the unbelievable, genuine feeling of happiness. I know that sounds incredibly trite but my cheeks were hurting from smiling. When was the last time you left somewhere bouncing on air because the vibe was so infectious? Cirque Africa will do this for you.
The cast are dressed in over 200 one-of-a-kind African costumes adding a visual smorgasbord and festive frivolity to the show.
Would it be wrong to say there was plenty of eye candy too, if that’s your thing? Buffed men (and women) in tight fitting clothing… let’s just say it made me want to go home and do some sit-ups.
If you’re looking for somewhere different, energetic and inspiring to take the family or maybe just take your friends out for a fantastic, unique experience, I highly recommend Cirque Africa.
Two tips: rug up and don't sit in the front row if you don’t want to be an act on centre stage!
All the info you need at: www.cirqueafrica.com.au.