Award-winning Kenyan acrobats bring high energy show to SWIC

News-DemocratFebruary 12, 2014 

Southwestern Illinois College in Belleville treats the community to one big show each year.

One of Jeff Blue's favorite acts is the Jabali Acrobats, who will perform Wednesday night. It will be their third visit.

"These are African acrobats, and they're very athletic," said Blue, coordinator of college activities. "I like their feats of strength and balance."

The troupe performs acrobatic acts, contortions and tumbling, as well as the Congo Snake Dance and Flaming Limbo Bar Dance.

"They do some juggling," Blue said. "They juggle with torches that are on fire."

The six acrobats are based in South Carolina, but they come from Mombassa, Kenya. The troupe has been touring the United States for eight years.

"A lot of what they do originated in Mombassa," said their agent, Rosemary Hable, owner of Class Act booking and management in Lake Geneva, Wis. "They've won many awards. They're very, very good."

Jabali's manager, Daniel Fondo, is a native Kenyan who recently became a U.S. citizen.

Fondo, 35, calls the show "high energy" and "family friendly." Audiences particularly enjoy seeing the acrobats form a human pyramid.

The show also includes audience participation and a short lesson.

"We try to teach the kids a little bit about ourselves, our culture and our language," Fondo said.

The acrobats speak Swahili, which children find interesting once they realize that the movie "The Lion King" includes some of that language.

"(The acrobats are) very set on communicating and preserving the culture of (Kenya)," Hable said. "They grew up very poor, and their relatives are still there. The first thing they do when they get a paycheck is send money home."

Abut 800 people showed up for Jabali's last performance at SWIC.

"We do it in the varsity gym," Blue said. "The theater is much too small. We need a big space so they can do big acrobatic moves."

At a glance

What: Jabali Acrobats

Where: Varsity gym at Southwestern Illinois College, 2500 Carlyle Ave. in Belleville

When: 7 p.m. Wednesday

Admission: Free

Information: 618-235-2700, ext. 5561

Belleville News-Democrat is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service