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ZuZu African Acrobats Perform at Rockland’s Esten Elementary School

ROCKLAND — Esten Elementary School children enjoyed an hour-long special assembly yesterday that featured an interactive performance by the ZuZu African Acrobats.

On Tuesday, March 26, students in grades kindergarten through fourth grade gathered in the gym to watch as five acrobats demonstrated their skills — even calling up students and staff to join in on the fun.

The group — Paris Mumba, Leonard Ngala, William Ngala, Emmanuel Charo and Shedriack Kario — originally met in their native home of Kenya, Africa and have been performing for more than 15 years. Their program, which they take around the world, is designed to be entertaining while also bringing people in touch with the culture of Africa. ZuZu African Acrobats gained fame in 2009 with their appearance on “America’s Got Talent.”

Fourth grade student Shaelyn Barton joins the the ZuZu African Acrobats in their performance by participating in one of their pyramids. (Courtesy Photo Rockland Public Schools)

Principal Marilyn Smith, who worked with Ashley Cutter, vice president of the Esten PAC to bring the group to Esten, was extremely pleased with the performance.

“I haven’t seen our kids so engaged and enthusiastic for an entire assembly,” Principal Smith said. “In fact, when the show neared its end, the students erupted with shouts of ‘We want more!'”

The show began with high energy, native dancing and acrobatics by the five Kenyans, who immediately brought children, teachers and staff members into the show when they asked for volunteers to try to go under a limbo pole.

Next was a truly heart-stopping performance by one of the performers as he almost reached the ceiling, hand-standing on stacked chairs that reached higher and higher in the Esten gym.

Between each stunt the lively performers interacted with the children who cheered loudly at every move the acrobats made.

The show ended with more interactive acrobatics in which children were brought up to take part in jump-roping. Children were also invited to form human pyramids like the Kenyans performed, of course with lots of help from the acrobats, and a sincere warning afterwards to “not try these things at home.”

Smith said that the performance was a great representation, not just of African culture, but also of teamwork, cooperation and trust among the five performers.

“These are things we emphasize to the children at Esten,” she said. “This performance was a great opportunity for us to reinforce these principles in a fun and creative way.”

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