I am so glad and proud that UniverSoul Circus has been around for 25 years and I have been covering it that entire time. From the first time that I saw this circus I knew I was dealing with something to cherish, something amazing that is Black-owned and is operated by Cedric Walker. From the first time I saw the circus until today it has had signature features that fans have come to know, love and wait for, such as the Soul Train Line, where five men and five women come from the audience and participate in a dance competition, men versus women. Another signature feature of this wonderful, fun circus is the big bouncy balls being tossed into the audience and everyone trying to get their tap. One of the most endearing aspects is the audience call and response, “When I say big top, you say circus.” Sometimes this call is said slowly and the audience responds slowly, and other times it’s said quickly and the audience responds quickly. The UniverSoul Circus is like a family reunion because the ringmaster always addresses the children in the audience, the young adults in the audience and the adults in the audience. There is never anyone left out, and makes special feature that everyone feel included.
As you watch the variety of acts that perform, you realize that UniverSoul Circus is about inclusion and diversity. The ringmaster Lucky is from Johannesburg, South Africa. There are acts from all over the world—Trinidad and Tobago, Chile, the U.S., Colombia, Russia, Cuba, Guinea, Mongolia and China. Sidekick Zeke, who was there in Atlanta in 1994, is still there today and he’s still got the moves!
The acts throughout the circus are very entertaining and at times fascinating to watch—they will take your breath away. The high energy of the show starts off with everyone’s favorite, the audience clapping competition. It’s so much fun. That was conducted by one of the clowns. A lovely ballerina danced as we heard people making comments about the importance of this circus during its 25th year. After the audience was engaged, then the marvelous calypso music began to play and the dancers from Trinidad and Tobago came out, along with the stilt-walkers and limbo dancers—signature acts of this incredible circus. This year they added enormously tall puppets that danced and got you feeling the music.
A dog act from Chile was absolutely delightful to experience. These dogs jump over bars, jump through cylinders, ride scooters and jump rope. They are absolutely adorable to see. In this act the humans got into the action and performed with the dogs, so that was pretty amusing as well.
The Willie family from Colombia did a tremendous tightrope act. They rode bikes and walked the tightrope balancing with a pole in their hands while one of them stood on the shoulders of the person walking. There was even a moment when one woman balanced on a man’s head, connecting to him only with one foot on his head.