Monday, June 20, 2005

Music Picnic #2: Zany Umbrella Circus and Umoja

A sunny Saturday in the 70’s had us headed downtown to the last weekend of The Three Rivers Arts Festival for the second music picnic of the summer. In a rare lunchtime afternoon we were able to take in 2 very different acts.

First, Zany Umbrella Circus performed it's newest show, Tinker, on it’s unique set that uses old bicycle parts and an old school bus. With no animals, ZUC is in the model of Cirque Du Soleil, presenting a circus that uses the acrobatics, trapeze and clowning to present stories. ZUC was founded in 2004 by a group of Pittsburgh with a unique interest of bringing free circus performances into parks. The shows include some really impressive trapeze/rope work that showcases the strength and grace of the performers. What the troupe lacks in depth (there were approximately 8 people in the circus, including 3 musicians), they make up for in enthusiasm. To me, the ZUC continues in a vein of Pittsburgh artists that combine passion for craft and a bohemian, communal sensibility (think Rusted Root and Squonk Opera) to create a fun experience that exceeds your expectations.

The second performance was by Umoja, a local company that performs West African drum and dance. Using authentic West-African drums, the group showcased rhythms and movements that were engaging and full of energy. The leader, a 51-year old woman from Guinea spoke about some of the cultural history behind the performance and sang, danced and drummed. She did not just perform, but encouraged the entire audience to participate, asking for volunteers to come down and learn a dance and to look her up to explore this type of dance for fun and fitness.

Sydney loved Umoja, she twirled circles and jumped and played the entire performance and dragged Russell out to dance with her. They were so hot by the time we were finished that a stop at the fountains in PPG Place to cool off was the perfect way to conclude our picnic before heading home for naps.


At 1:20 PM, Anonymous michelle said...

very cool. you should come to the african arts in the part festival on saturday, july 2 at schenley park. adults can take part, too, you know. :)


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