July 22--POMPANO BEACH -- Dancing alongside 24 professional acrobats, contortionists and dancers from seven countries in a production that opens Tuesday is a sixth-grader from Davie.
Kellie Kessling, 11, will play the role of "Grasshopper" in the rendition of "Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy" that will be at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts.
Kessling was chosen from among 36 kids who signed up for the Cirque Dreams KidsTime camp earlier this summer. The Cirque Productions camp culminated in an audition, and founder Neil Goldberg chose her based on her performance, which included hand balancing, aerials and dancing.
"When I found out I got it, I almost started crying I was so excited," she said.
Her role as Grasshopper is "tricks, acrobatics, dancing," Kessling said. The character has a solo contemporary dance and is also threaded throughout the show, said Jen Sierra, director of marketing and media relations for Cirque Productions.
Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy features aerialists, high-wire walkers, acrobats and other circus-style performers taking on the roles of animals in a show that celebrates nature, Sierra said.
"It's about animals who celebrate their talents through amazing acts," she said.
The show went to Broadway in 2008, and two of the performers in this production also performed in the show there. Mongolians Erdenesuvd Ganbaatar and Buyankhishig Ganbaatar call themselves the "Contortionist Sisters," and they've been performing in Jungle Fantasy since 2005.
Other performers in the show are from Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Romania, Ethiopia and the U.S.
Kessling, who will start sixth grade in the fall at Franklin Academy charter school in Pembroke Pines, usually spends six days a week at the Broadway Kids Studio practicing singing, dancing, acting and acrobatics.
She wants to be a dancer when she grows up, she said.
Working on Cirque Dreams with professional dancers and acrobats has left her impressed and amazed at the end of most days, she said.
"I never knew some of the stuff they do was possible," she said.
The show opens Tuesday and plays in Broward through Sunday. Tickets cost $34.50 -- $74.50 and are on sale at the Broward Center from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. They're also available online at http://www.browardcenter.org or by phone 954-462-0222.
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