Michael Tyus leaps from the small screen (“So You Think You Can Dance,” “Star Search”) to center stage in the L.A. premiere of Cirque du Soleil’s “Kooza.” The show is a return to the roots of Cirque, combining classic circus acts – acrobatics and clowning – into a breathtaking spectacle.

“Kooza” follows the Innocent, a naïve loner struggling to find his place in the world, as he encounters a slew of comical characters including the Trickster, portrayed by Tyus. As the charming Trickster, the 19-year-old dancing phenom displays the strength and agility honed from years of training.

Tyus takes some time to shed light on his experiences with Campus Circle.

What compelled you to become a dancer? From the beginning of my existence I was magnetically drawn to movement. I would “move” down the grocery store aisles as my mom went shopping. It wasn’t until I had major leg surgery at age 11 that my mom threw me in to dance as physical therapy, and that’s where my love for movement began to be focused and honed.

What does the Trickster bring to the Innocent’s journey in “Kooza?” The Trickster is like that older kid at school whom your parents tell you not to hang out with ’cause he might teach you cuss words and pressure you to smoke. When the Trickster collides with the Innocent in a predestined moment, the Trickster brings to the Innocent experience. Not necessarily a negative experience but a powerfully beautiful experience that has the Innocent question, fear, laugh and love more of life. It’s almost a coming-of-age moment for him, and by the end, he finds out that the power isn’t found in the wand or the hands of the Trickster but in his heart and his mind.

What makes this different from other Cirque du Soleil shows? “Kooza” is unique in Cirque’s arsenal of shows because of its simplicity and yet mind-blowing theatrics. It cuts out the fluff and frills and turns simple statements into acts that have the audience hold their breath, bite their nails, scream out loud and, most importantly, laugh. Cirque du Soleil at its core is a circus, and this show is the essence of that foundation. From the style of acts to the way the stage is crafted it’s basic, strong and from the roots of its circus heritage, with a tiny bit of Cirque magic.

What is the best part of being a Cirque performer? The best part of being with Cirque, specifically on “Kooza,” is the amount of knowledge and creativity that is flying around. I’m among the best of the best, and so I have learned and continue to learn so much; it’s mind-boggling. I came in as a dancer, and in the past eight months I am now somewhat of an acrobat, actor and, most importantly, a performer. Not only are the people around brilliant at what they do, but they have become my brothers and sisters because we are bound together with a common interest and a common joy: to change people around the world through what we do best.

What are your goals for your own future? I find that specific goals can be dangerous in my life. I’m prone to dream and reach too low and therefore stop growing and learning. Being a part of Cirque du Soleil was something that I didn’t consider possible. It was so far out of reach, too much to ask for. If I had set a specific goal that didn’t include auditioning for Cirque because of my confidence issues, I would not be here. So for now I’m going to go with the flow, see what happens and where God wants to take me with a general goal of changing the world through performing arts.

“Kooza” runs Oct. 16-Nov. 29 at the Santa Monica Pier. For more information, visit cirquedusoleil.com.