Ain’t no party like a big top party.
The one-ring UniverSoul Circus, which has entertained an estimated 2 million kids and adults since 1997, has erected a big top near the Mann Center in Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park. Between Nov. 3 and 27, there will be 47 shows, wrapping up UniverSoul Circus’ 20th anniversary season.
America’s first African-American owned circus has four new acts: a Russian bar foursome from Cuba, an aerial duo from Colombia, Chinese non-traditional acrobats and Airborne, a motorcycle daredevil team from California.
“UniverSoul Circus has such a deep and rich history with Philadelphia,” said founder and CEO Cedric Walker in a press release. “Philadelphia is a city that has really been part of our UniverSoul Circus family since the early days, and we are so excited to be back.
At this time in our history, we need to come together, to embrace and learn from each other. I believe the circus naturally brings people together. In 23 years of searching for talent, I have journeyed to every continent to find a multicultural, multinational mix of talent to showcase.”
The music of this big top spectacle spans pop, classic R&B, Latin, hip-hop, jazz and gospel.
What’s a Russian bar?
It’s a semi-flexible tubular bar that sends acrobats skyward with the buoyancy of a trampoline. Havana’s Fly High are performing their act in the U.S. for the first time.
What’s makes these Chinese acrobats different?
Featuring five men and five women, the men simultaneously balance the women with their hands and feet, while performing contortion movements — one a 360-degree turn with the women on their hands.
I noticed this circus has an international lineup.
The UniverSoul Circus ringmaster is Lucky Malatsi, who comes from Johannesburg, South Africa. Other performers include a comedy dog act from Chile; contortionists from Ethiopia; the Caribbean Dynasty dancers from Trinidad and Tobago, who at one point duck under a flaming limbo bar; tigers; disco dancing elephants and more.
What’s the deal with Sifiso?
He ropes unsuspecting audience members into a silly dancing game of follow-the-leader in the ring. During his eight years with UniverSoul, the South African star has done slapstick comedy, trampoline, trapeze and teeterboard.
No creepy clowns?
UniverSoul’s swagged out clown quartet restores clowning’s good-natured name. They make you part of the show with “Soul Karaoke” lip syncing into their specially-configured microphone stand.
Then there’s Onionhead the Clown, who comes up with outlandish characters and audience participation skits. He joined UniverSoul Circus as a cook, moved to the tent crew; and when someone discovered his clowning skills, he was center ring ever since.
Can I get tickets before I go?
Tickets on sale now for $19 to $30 via Ticketmaster.com or by calling (800) 745-3000.
Where can I learn more about UniverSoul Circus?
Visit www.universoulcircus.com, www.facebook.com/universoulcircus and www.twitter.com/UniverSoulCirc.