On-Campus Event

ZuZu acrobats flip, jump, limbo

By Jacob Kaplan February 7, 2018

On Saturday afternoon, the center of the McNeil Room was empty. Rows of chairs were set up around three sides of the clearing. At noon, booths were set up by the walls to serve food. People began trickling in. At 1 pm, Nya Jackson ’18, vice president of Rensselaer’s Black Student Alliance and M.C. of the event, started things off.

Jackson introduced all the clubs and organizations that helped set up and promote the show. As she introduced them, a representative from each group offered a few words about their club and its objective. The clubs were varied, but all were there to promote diversity, share culture, and raise awareness. There were clubs representing ethnic communities on campus like the Black Student Alliance, Alpha Phi Alpha, the Chinese American Student Association, the Indian Students Association, and the newly restarted African Students Alliance. There were academic organizations representing the interests of communities like the Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers and the National Society of Black Engineers who, in partnership with RPI’s Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, organized last fall’s career fair. Other clubs representing the more artistic expressions of these cultures were there like RPI Sangam, an Indian dance team and ABADA Capoeira RPI, an Afro-Brazilian martial art and dance team.

Jackson thanked the clubs for their support, the music started, and the ZuZu acrobats came out. Six performers wearing leopard-skin patterned unitards danced to the music. The beat resonated with the audience and they started clapping to it. The acrobats started their performance with a human pyramid. They brought out a limbo bar and had people from the audience go under it, moving it lower and lower until they had to help the participants go under without falling. After everyone had tried, the acrobats showed off their skills, moving the bar less than a foot off the ground, but still managing to bend far enough back to skirt under it. They then brought out two hoops, delicately balanced one on top of the other, and started jumping through them forwards and backwards without knocking them over. They played double Dutch but instead of hopping through jump ropes, they did backflips. By then, all of the chairs in the McNeil were filled. People were standing by the walls. The show even caught the attention of dozens of students upstairs who leaned on the railing and sat on tables to watch.

The ZuZu’s closing act was the most exciting and nerve-wracking. One-by-one, the acrobats stacked wooden chairs. The acrobat stacking the chairs would do a handstand on each one he placed. By the seventh chair, his feet were eye-level with the onlookers upstairs. They closed with another human pyramid and thanked everybody.

The main event was over, but the acrobats stuck around for another half hour to take pictures. Some brave volunteers got their pictures taken while being lifted by one acrobat standing on the shoulders of another. After the ZuZu acrobats left, many of the clubs stuck around, talking, dancing, and laughing.

The show was held to inaugurate the beginning of Black History Month, but it also helped to highlight the work these clubs are doing on behalf of underrepresented groups on campus. It was a lot of the fun from beginning to end.