By Lyndsie Kiebert
It’s not every day that a Top 10 act from “America’s Got Talent” makes it to Sandpoint, so when Cirque Zuma Zuma graces the Panida stage on Feb. 2 as part of the Pend Oreille Arts Council Performing Arts Series, locals are in for an internationally-renowned treat.
POAC Arts Administrator Hannah Combs said when the group’s representative reached out to her about including a Sandpoint date in their latest tour, she knew that a group of their size and popularity would be worth a pretty penny.
“We said, ‘Sure, but your show looks a lot bigger than we can afford,’ and they worked with us on the price,” Combs said. “(The show) is perfect for our series, so it was really exciting for us.”
Thanks to that teamwork, Cirque Zuma Zuma will bring its signature blend of circus-style acrobatics, traditional African dance, music and high-energy fun to those of us in the Idaho Panhandle — a place pretty far from the kind of venue that regularly hosts such high-flying, culturally-diverse acts.
“POAC wants to bring programs to Sandpoint that the people here would not be able to see otherwise without traveling a good distance, and especially in the winter when travel is more difficult,” Combs said. “I value the cultural diversity we’re able to bring into town.”
Combs said POAC is sure to incorporate a student-based event when groups like Cirque Zuma Zuma visit Sandpoint.
“I always find it magical,” she said. “Students are super excited and eager to go out and research more about different countries and cultural aspects.”
Cirque Zuma Zuma Manager Wendy Kay said the group is the only original African acrobat show directly out of Africa, and that a Top 10 finish on “America’s Got Talent” in 2011 pushed the performers into the U.S. spotlight. Cirque Zuma Zuma now books over 100 dates a year with an emphasis on working with schools to bring African culture to students, she said.
Kay emphasized that Cirque Zuma Zuma aims to provide family-friendly shows, and that the ultimate goal is to spread “entertainment and love.”
“I love spreading (the performers’) love to all the schools, the kids and the families,” Kay said. “It’s exactly what people need right now — to understand there are cultural differences, but we are all the same.”
Experience Cirque Zuma Zuma on Saturday, Feb. 2, at the Panida Theater. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the show begins at 7. Tickets are $25 for adults and $10 for students. Buy them at Eve’s Leaves, Eichardt’s, Winteridge Natural Foods, the POAC office or online at panida.org or artinsandpoint.org.
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