Selloane sings at Cirque Du Soleil
Welkom, South Africa’s voice behind Cirque Du Soleil’s ‘La Nouba’
Penny Dickerson Special to The Miami Times | 9/23/2015, 2 p.m.
For 10 shows per week exclusively at the Downtown Disney theatre, Selloane can be heard as a lyrical offering as lead vocalist in “La Nouba.” Her voice literally bridges anticipation between the audience and “La Nouba’s” performers as they execute high wire and flying trapeze maneuvers during the one and half-hour show, comprised of 65 international artists.
The latter may sound unorthodox for a circus, but integrating vocals and live acoustic music, as a complementary layer to dangerous acts that usually encourage audience silence is all a part of what makes La Nouba “memorable, individual, and universal.”
“It used to be very difficult for me because I come from a very different world, the theatre world, where everything is almost the same every day,” Selloane told The Miami Times during a pre-show interview last Friday night.
“It’s very rare when someone would fall and actually hurt themselves, but here it happens a lot. Someone misses a cue or net or they fly all the way over there,” she said pointing skyward. “If you’re singing and someone misses a net, your voice takes you there with them. I used to just shut down, now I am able to incorporate riff, but it’s really a scream.”
SINGING SINCE 3
Selloane’s ability to improvise and adapt is embedded in artistic experience that emerged at the age of 3 when she began singing in church. The soulful songstress was gifted with gospel chops that almost immediately led to accolades and acclaim. And while she is petite in stature, her artistic reputation on African soil is anything but small.
She was previously awarded the best soloist of the year at South Africa’s “Shell Road to Fame,” which catapulted her to recording artist success through a contract with Gallo Music Group South Africa. On the Gallo label, she released “Thel’u Moya,” a gospel CD that remains one of the country’s most popular and lauded recordings. Industry giant Sony Music also recognized the vocal greatness of Selloane and invited her to record as a guest artist on the CDs “Joyous Celebration” Volumes 2 and 8.
“THE LION KING”
The breadth of Selloane’s burgeoning achievements have advanced her performing arts life to reach more than 15 countries, but the hallmark of her American presence began with the magic of Disney when she was cast in the Los Angeles production of “The Lion King.” She later joined the national tour and performed in Toronto, London, as well as U.S. tours, where she played the roles of Cheetah and Gazelle. All of the aforementioned culminated into the Broadway leading role of Rafiki.
In 2013, Selloane was cast as the sole, female vocalist in “La Nouba,” outfitted in white, perched high above the rafters most of the show where she enjoys an aerial view. The fairy tale-focused show’s title originates from the French phrase “faire la Nouba,” which means to party, to live it up. For most cast members that partying is dedicated to their stage life —with a few exceptions.“The show is demanding, but I don’t have to be here as much as the others,” said Selloane whose 19-year-old daughter is also a part of the “La Nouba” family. “I do yoga for fun, but come in, put on make-up, warm-up and do the show. My daughter was married in May so some of us went down for her wedding and that was awesome,” she added.
SOUTH AFRICA’S PRIDE
“La Nouba” is further described as an “encounter born in fear and ecstasy where two types of families or groups take a theatrical ride amidst magic and fantasy where the colorful Cirques (circus people) clash with the monochromatic world of the Urbains (urbanites).”
For Selloane, it is a befitting pinnacle for a stateside performing arts career that may have began in South Africa, but has since afforded her opportunities to appear on “Jay Leno,” “The Today Show,” “The View” and the 2008 Tony Awards along with serving as a featured artist at the 2008 Lunas Awards in Mexico City.