Zuzu acrobats: not your average gymnastics routine

By Max Silverman
March 20, 2021

The Tanzania African Acrobats showcased their talents to Cabrini and Neumann faculty and students. On Thursday, Feb. 11th, the troop dazzled the audience with their unique blend of Traditional African music and clothing with unique and creative athletic feats. This troop has been training together for over seven years, yet their unique style takes inspiration from soccer trick shots that the members practiced when they were kids.

When people think of acrobats, they usually think of circus performers leaping and swinging through the air, or gymnasts flipping and somersaulting in the air in brightly sequined costumes. However, the Zuzu Acrobats put a new spin on this style of performance. The Zuzu Acrobats merge African tradition, with their patterned, brightly colored clothes and the rhythmic beats of the drum they perform to, with superhuman feats of strength and flexibility.

The Zuzu Acrobats from Tanzania showcased their unique set of skills for Cabrini and Neumann students and faculty. Photo by Max Silverman.


This performance was relatively short, lasting about 45 minutes with a 20 minute long question-and-answer session. The main show can be broken up into six “acts.”  During the question-and-answer segment, the performers also taught the audience common phrases in Swahili, the official language of Tanzania.

The first act was a one-man performance that set the stage for what was going to come later. This performer entered the studio room walking with his hands on the ground and his legs tucked over his shoulders. The next few minutes were filled with mind-bending movements as the agile performer contorted his body into a human pretzel.

The following act featured more “traditional” acrobatic feats. Granted, “traditional” is used very lightly, as boring old moves, like headstands, were ramped up to 11. The performers looked like upside-down trees, performing headstands while their limbs moved like the swaying branches of trees. To add to this, these headstands were done on a pole stuck in the middle of a raised, table-like platform.

The Zuzu troop also performs tricks on bicycles and unicycles. Photo by Max Silverman.

Another act similar to the second one involved a stack of chairs. Here, the athlete performed tricks that involved an immense amount of skill and balance, as he carefully supported his entire body with one hand.

The Zuzu troop also featured more circus-like acts. One performer balanced three spinning bowls while dancing to the beat of the drum in the background. He would throw the bowls while dancing, balance one on his nose and somersault while still keeping the bowls spinning. In another act, members performed tricks on bikes and unicycles. These stunts included carefully side-hopping over an assistant who was laying on the ground and balancing on top of a unicycle that had three wheels stacked on top of each other.

The final act featured four members performing an “extreme cheer routine.” They formed human ladders and towers (climbing on each other’s shoulders, while the person on top would do a headstand or another move). They also would hop over their partners like frogs.

Seven years of hard work and sacrifice were required to perform techniques such as this. Photo by Max Silverman.

While not many people attended the event virtually (around 50 were present), those that did were in awe of the amazing feats of athleticism and strength by the Zuzu acrobats. Audience members also enjoyed how unique and engaging the show was.

“This event was very diverse and very unique,” said Mark Phillips, a senior and member of the CAP Board. “This definitely had an impact (on me), since they took the time to teach us (the audience) some words and songs from their culture, so I appreciate how you gained some knowledge of another culture from the event.” Phillips even suggested that Cabrini should try and bring this event back to Cabrini again “Because it’s one of those events that you won’t forget.”

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Max Silverman

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