Andrea Ziegler—Dancer, Choreographer, Yogi

  • Feature   Thu, Jan 13th, 2022   Nancy Silcox
Andrea Ziegler on the set of Big Top Academy. (Photo contributed)

Andrea Ziegler on the set of Big Top Academy. (Photo contributed)

By Nancy Silcox
When she wasn’t pounding balls on the W-O volleyball court, keeping her place on the school’s honour roll, or adding her voice to the school’s music program, Andrea Ziegler was dancing.
She’d been a student of the Josephine Both School of Dance in Cambridge since she was three, and was a star on the dance floor too. Not that she had the dancer’s stereotypical long and lean body. Nope!
This sprite was 5 foot 2 inches of spunk, athleticism and talent.
Those qualities served her well in Ryerson University’s Dance program—so well that they landed her a spot in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Phantom of the Opera,” playing to sold-out audiences at Toronto’s Pantages Theatre.
Andrea’s role did a tribute to her physical abilities and energies. She joined the company as one of six in the ballet chorus, played the iconic monkey who dances on the music box in the musical’s opening scene.
She then moved up to understudy the principal role of Meg. When Phantom went on tour, Andrea relocated to Vancouver. But more was on the horizon.
An audition to be part of the cast for the Las Vegas production of Cirque du Soleil’s “Mystère” saw her packing her bags in 1997 for parts south.
Playing the “Lizard Girl” of that high-energy production, she found herself (in costume) on the cover of Maclean’s Magazine during the run of the show.
And while Andrea’s vibrant personality immediately earned her friends with the multi-national Cirque du Soleil cast and crew members—many of them Canadian, the city took some getting used to.
An interview I conducted with her in 2000 was frank about the adjustment.
“Las Vegas is a city without a soul,” she opined. “It has no sense of community. It’s just all about money, tourists, casinos and the strip.”
Still, this small-town raised gal loved what she was doing, and after her time with “Mystère,” she toured Europe performing with Cirque’s “Quidam.”
After Andrea took a year off to backpack around Australia, Celine Dion came calling at her door. The Canadian star was beginning a residency at Caesar’s Palace in Vegas. Fifty dancers, including New Hamburg’s star celebrity, were hired from around the world to appear with her in “A New Day.”
For the five-year Dion run, she also worked as a Dance Captain for the troupe.
Andrea has only kind words for Dion and her late husband- manager René Angélil. “We were spoiled by them. When you have a catered dinner brought in by Wolfgang Puck every Saturday, you know this is a fine job!”
But, the vigorous lifestyle of Cirque performers does have its end date. Still, she calls her body remaining “relatively unscathed” from these rigorous years.
In 2007, after a decade of dancing, leaping, catapulting and contortions, she moved on to be Dance Master with Cirque’s “Viva! Elvis” and was promoted to Acrobatic Choreographer on “Michael Jackson: One,” “Amaluna” and “Kurios.”
Today, family and “home” have continued to play a large role in Andrea Ziegler’s 25-year American show biz career. “I’ve remained a Canadian citizen,” she says. “Though I have a green card, I’ve never applied for American citizenship.”
She spends her summers with her mother, Gregg, who retired from New Hamburg to Port Elgin on Lake Huron several years ago. The family rejoices too when Andrea’s older brother Philip, a theology professor who lives in Aberdeen, Scotland and his family arrive for holidays.
She’s remained in demand for work in Canada too. In 2018, she was approached by a production company to work in conjunction with Cirque du Soleil and Discovery Channel to create a television program called “Big Top Academy.”
The show’s premise sees 10 actors/acrobats, between 10 and 14 years of age, who aspire to become professional circus artists going through the paces of practicing and performing. Andrea holds the role of script consultant and choreographer on the show.
Two seasons of the program are now available on TVO Kids, Hulu and other streaming networks worldwide. Andrea has also consulted on a follow-up movie script which she hopes will have her travelling to Montreal to film.
Winters now see Andrea living in Mexico, near the resort town of Puerto Vallarta. She’s built a house there and fills any free time teaching online and in-person yoga and Pilates.
With her 50th birthday arriving next year, a number of her same-aged Wilmot and W-O friends hope to travel to the sun and ocean breezes of her winter home to celebrate. “What a wonderful place for all of us to turn 50 together,” she laughs.
Keeping Las Vegas contacts strong, she’s softened her early assessment of that city.
“I can look back and say I loved Las Vegas. There is so much more than ‘the Strip'—hiking in the mountains, kayaking the rivers. It’s a beautiful area and has a thriving artistic community.
“Most people who come to Las Vegas and spend four days in the casinos would never know it is surrounded by such wondrous nature.”