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Afrika! Afrika!

Lynda Moyo gets blown away by an explosion of colour and creativity from the continent

Written by . Published on August 1st 2008.


Afrika! Afrika!

If there's one thing you should see between now and September, it's Afrika! Afrika! This show defines what a circus experience should be about: a showcase of beyond-belief acrobatics and cleanly choreographed camaraderie and comedy. Afrika! Afrika! is all this and more.

17 African men bounding out in multi-coloured, Lycra cycling shorts with perfectly polished muscles flexing and big white smiles dazzling, is a special, special moment for a girl.

And it's effortless. The show takes circus skills back to basics. Acrobatics, juggling, unicyclists, clownery, but all with a modern twist. Unicycling is incorporated into a basketball game, but it doesn't stop there. They then play jump rope whilst unicycling, on unicycles that are easily 10ft high.

Other highlights include the charming aerialist in sparkly high-waisted trousers. It's like watching a gladiator dance in the Royal Ballet...as the lead role. Then there's the human snake who takes contortion to a level no one could ever have anticipated. Anyone who can tie themselves up in knots like that and still smile sweetly with all internal organs and limbs intact deserves the rapturous applause this act received. Jaws were on the floor for this beautiful, graceful woman. Particularly the men's.

Then there were the pole acrobatics. Now don't get me wrong, this show is for all the family. However, as the female wolf whistles confirmed, 17 African men bounding out in multi-coloured, Lycra cycling shorts with perfectly polished muscles flexing and big white smiles dazzling, is a special, special moment for a girl. They then proceed to pole-dance, but not in the usual sense.

These high-pole performance artistes effortlessly slide up and down the poles at top speed, sometimes seemingly hanging on by no more than a toenail. Ladies, there are no words.

'The Waterman' is a mind-boggling eccentric who spouts water from his mouth as if he has had his oesophagus replaced with a hose-pipe. Juggling comes in the form of a man who can juggle what appeared to be around 20 balls at a time. And then there is the dancing, which puts the Beyoncé booty shake to shame and ties the whole show together with intermittent bursts of rhythm and colour.

The audience did not take their eyes off that stage once. And by the end of it aching cheeks, dry teeth and tingling palms were prevalent because you couldn't help but clap, cheer, grin and gleam constantly, throughout the whole show.

The performance is just one part of a bigger African experience. This is a circus tent like no other, authentically themed in African art and imagery. Explore the space and you will notice elements of everything from Egypt to sub-Saharan countries such as Mozambique and Tanzania. The show has an interval in which you can also sample some of the varied spicy culinary delights and South African wines. A perfect addition to a wonderful evening of entertainment.

Africa is one of the most varied, colourful, vibrant, spectacular and underestimated continents of them all. The news often leads us to believe that it's all doom and gloom. But the reality is that despite the endless political and financial issues, this continent makes the best of what it has with minimal complaint. Africa may be poor, but it clearly possesses the richest of talents and Afrika! Afrika! really is a credit to this continent.

Afrika! Afrika! is showing at the Trafford Centre from now until 6 September.

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