The Freestyle Performer: Wassa Coulibaly

Former Cirque star turned artistic entrepreneur

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Photo by Anthony Mair

Photo by Anthony Mair

ACHIEVEMENT: She was part of the original cast of Cirque du Soleil’s Zumanity and performed in the show for 10 years. In October, she left the show to pursue a new dream.

THE NEW DREAM: She owns and operates the Baobab Stage theater at Town Square and stars in a play of her own creation, Red Dress. “It’s been the best thing ever,” Coulibaly says. “It’s so nice to see other people onstage expressing themselves. They have a platform.” Baobab also serves as a theatrical community center, hosting drum nights, burlesque shows and benefits.

THE CULMINATION OF HER TALENTS: Coulibaly also designs clothes, which she sells in the Wassa Wear boutique in the theater lobby. So, for Red Dress, she not only wrote the script, dances, acts and produces, she designed the costumes. “Red Dress is like a baby born,” Coulibaly says. “I never had children, but I have had the experience of creating something that can touch people.”

LINGUIST EXTRAORDINAiRE: Coulibaly was born in Senegal and grew up speaking Wolof, Bamanankan and French. She learned English at 18, after arriving in America in 1995.

OVERCOMING CONSERVATIVISM: “’All G-strings should be burned’—that is my mom’s thought,” Coulibaly says. “I came from a very strict family. I always had this desire for sensuality, for fashion, for attention—for all this. But it doesn’t mean I am bad and vulgar. Quite the opposite.”

THE NEXT DREAM: Coulibaly wants to expand her fashion line and is seeking investors for Red Dress with an eye on Broadway and Hollywood.

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