UniverSoul Circus (sponsored by McDonald’s), what some consider to be the most successful urban family entertainment show in history, is at National Harbor through July 28, and its dedication to inclusion and diversity has risen to a new level this year.
For its 26th edition, the show is walking its talk with the addition of a female ringmaster, Cheyenne Rose Dailey, from Trinidad and Tobago. Dailey is serving as co-emcee with long-time ringmaster Lucky Malatsi, a native of South Africa. Along with their sidekick Zeke, the trio on June 25th delightfully introduced the electrifying and death-defying acts that kept a super charged audience on its feet.
The circus is known for its urban themes and music that black audiences can easily resonate with (ie: the “Soul Train” line). The performers, however, from Chile, Mongolia, Cuba, West Africa, Ethiopia, Russia, China, Trinidad and the United States, will thrill all ethnic groups.
Brimming with an abundance of funk and soul, the three-hour show has something for every age category: positive messages and music for youngsters encouraging them to respect people who look different than them; new school music for those up to 35 and old school music for the senior crowd.
The show kicked off with Caribbean Dynasty, featuring colorful stilt walkers and a limbo dancer slinking under fiery poles just six inches above the floor. This was followed by a dog act from Colombia with cute rescue pooches performing adorable tricks.
A Cossack horse act featured gorgeous stallions galloping at dizzying speeds as riders performed breathtaking moves, including riding backwards and upside down in their saddle. The fast-paced show features several new acts this year, including two Cuban roller skaters who did amazing moves aboard a small circular platform. A handsome male performer from Brazil walked upside down, 53 feet above the floor, with no safety nets below. The audible gasps from the audience filled the air.
A highlight of the circus is its lively audience participation, and the five men and women selected to outdo each other in the Soul Train line was a crowd pleaser. Particularly funny was an Asian man who had to emulate a “brotha’s” soulful moves, while a fake boxing competition was hilarious as the opponents faced off in slow motion to the music from the movie “Rocky.”
Like other circuses, UniverSoul Circus strives to find the most unusual acts. The Bone Breakers, three male contortionists from Guinea, twisted their bodies into unbelievable shapes while a crunching sound bounced off the inside of the huge tent. Two muscular men from West Africa performed a gravity-defying balancing act notable for its grace and coordination. A group of teeterboard drillers from Mongolia drew hearty and appreciative applause.
Following a 20-minute intermission, The Fresh Clownsss from the U.S. came out into the audience to thrill the crowd with their hip-hop dance moves. It was another opportunity for audience participation as the clowns carried a huge microphone into the audience, picking individuals to show off their lip-syncing abilities.
A highlight of the show was the motorcross daredevils who flew up to 50 feet into the air, leaving many on the edge of their seat. Aptly named the Flatout Freestyle motorcross bikers, the group fly over the heads of the audience and travel 75 feet before landing. Several literally flew off their seats in mid-air.
The show ended with a nod to the black church and gospel music, as praise dances performed a beautiful and moving dance routine. For circus lovers, UniverSoul Circus will wow you with its upbeat and eye-popping acts.
For more information on the circus and to purchase tickets, visit www.universoulcircus.com.