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WEST CHESTER — Salsa, Celtic, soul, comedy and Taiko.
Those are just some of the different genres of entertainment West Chester University has hosted as part of its 20th season of WCU Live!, bringing culture to college students and residents of West Chester.
“I come from Center City and just moved here recently,” said Maria Urrutia, assistant director of Theatre and Dance at WCU. “One of the best things about the community here is that they are so engrossed in the arts and their desire for more and more. There are so many great troupes that travel and the selection here is spectacular. You don’t have to travel very far to see something classy.”
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There is only one show remaining in this year’s series: “The Jungle Book” presented by Missoula Children’s Theater Company on April 11.
One of the shows brought earlier to West Chester was the Popovich Comedy Pet Theater, which featured a flawless combination of acrobatics and animal tricks.
Each pet in the show, which is more than 30, has been rescued by show creator Gregory Popovich.
“The pets from the animal shelter, it takes time to rebuild communication,” Popovich said. “They have been betrayed by a human and are a little afraid to start over with someone again. It’s up to two or three months before they begin to trust me and we build a connection. In my show, all I try to do is find natural habits. If I find their natural trick, I make it fun for them.”
The animals he has varies from dogs and house cats to a parrot, geese, mice and, new to the show, goats and a mini horse.
Though he brings comedy to the audience, Popovich is also hoping to deliver a message to each crowd he performs in front of worldwide.
“It’s not only pet lovers coming to my show, but also kids and adults,” he said. “I hope I send a main message about all these pets are from animal shelters. They are ordinary pets, but they do interesting and funny tricks. If, after my show, someone from the audience visits a local animal shelter, I feel like my message reached others.”
West Chester University will have had 13 shows during the 2014-15 season after “The Jungle Book” is presented. The evenings feature a variety of acts from around the country and world that attract groups from across Chester County.
“It’s ideal,” said Madeline Bell, assistant to the director of Cultural and Community Affairs. “We really like to get every different age and every different demographic in. This is one of the few that does that and it’s great.
“We have some groups that come to pretty much everything,” Bell said. “We don’t always get a lot of new groups, maybe one or two throughout the year, but generally the groups that return love it. It’s easy for them to get here.”
One of the groups that comes every year is the Tamagawa University Taiko & Dance from Japan, which appeared Tuesday night.
“They’re amazing,” Urrutia said. “The last three years, this has been sold out just as much as when they perform in Philadelphia or New York. It has a great reputation.”
The group, made up of all students from Tamagawa University, travels to America to tour around for a couple weeks on their own dime.
“Once I took the job here (at WCU), I realized they come here every year,” Urrutia said. “I’m glad it’s always selling out. It needs to. It’s top of the world Taiko and dance.”
Though she enjoys coming to see the show, Urrutia actually knows the choreographer and director of the group, giving her more of an inclination to come out.
“I actually have known Isaburoh (Hanayagi) for years,” she said. “He comes here every year. During the day, I teach a salsa class for his group and then I always come to the performances. They are a spectacular Taiko and dance group and they’re flawless.”