UniverSoul Circus Plays the New York Area Under the Big Top through May 29
By: Ellis Nassour
The tent is pitched, sawdust has been spread. There’re funnel cakes, nachos, cotton candy, and ice-cold drinks aplenty as the 24th edition of UniverSoul Circus — acclaimed as one of the nation’s Top 10 Most Requested Family Events — plays the NY area — Queens, Newark, and for the first time ever, Mount Vernon — through May 29.
UniverSoul Circus’ mission is to continue the American circus tradition of presenting the finest human and animal talent from around the world under its big top – and doing it with a Caribbean-infused flavor.
“Come to UniverSoul for some pure un-adulterated energy for the entire family and under the big top,” says founder and CEO Cedric Walker. “This season’s show is bigger, stronger, and more explosive and interactive than ever. We have some of the most phenomenal acts ever to grace center ring. We’re also presenting exotic animals, including elephants, in acts that’ll blow your mind. And there’re clowns, music, and dance!”
Kyrgyzstan’s Bek, only 21, a horseman since age eight who leads the intense, high-speed pyramid riders on horseback, states, “We’ve traveled the world, and UniverSoul Circus is unlike anything we’ve experienced. It’s different, and has more energy than other shows. Every artist is a unique personality and, here, they can be individuals displaying their amazing styles.”
Presiding over the show’s amazingly young but highly-seasoned global talent is audience favorite, 27-year-old multitalented ringmaster Lucky Malatsi, who’s been performing 15 years with UniverSoul, and his pint-sized sidekick extraordinaire, Zeke. Ira Smith’s Detroit Fresh Clowns “swagged out” quartet, a YouTube sensation with “JuJu on That Beat” [views exceed 40-million], return with a fun act unlike any clown brigade.
Thrill attractions include the giant steel double Wheel of Death, featuring Peru’s Carlos Pinto Morales and Guinea’s Mamadou Bobo Sylla and Sory Conde; extreme Motocross stunts by U.S. daredevils [including New Yorker Casey Higgins] on super-revved up bikes; and the adrenaline-pumping horseback troupe.
Elegant high flying, old-fashioned roller skating, and extreme contortion acts: the 10-person strong internationally-acclaimed Shenyang (China) Silk troupe, winners of the Silver Prize in the Monte Carlo Festival and the Gold Prize in France’s Festival Mondial du Cirque; young acrobats Eyoe Gessaye and Mehret Tesfaye displaying grace and poise on roller skates [all the more amazing considering they only learned to skate two years ago]; and, returning after a five-year hiatus, the Bone Breakers.
Among the showstoppers beloved by children of all ages are the Soul Circus Divas, U.S. trainer Larry Carden’s elephants, featuring the largest performing male elephant in the world, weighing in at a trim but mind-blowing six tons. These heavyweights do more than headstands and swivels. They play the harmonica, horn, and drums. Then, there’s Yosaffat Morales, 24 and who started in circusdom with his father as a juggler at 15, and his mixed animal act of camels, zebras, a horse, and pony.
It’ll be a while before you forget world favorites, Cuba’s daring Havana Company, a fearless foursome [aged 19-34] flying through the air [seemingly] with the greatest of ease in the upper reaches of the tent on a Russian bar — the act which won them gold medals in competitions in China and Cuba.
There’s high-energy dance and dazzling pageantry from Caribbean Dynasty, a perennial favorite of UniverSoul audiences with agile dancers – some even dipping as low as six inches as they maneuver under the limbo bar in a blaze of fire.
UniverSoul Circus plays Queens’ Roy Wilkins Park [Merrick and Baisley Boulevards., Jamaica] through May 7; Newark [430 Broad Street, across from Broad Street train station and adjacent to Old Riverfront Bears Stadium], May 9-14; and Mount Vernon’s Hutchinson Field [655 Garden Avenue], May 16-29.
Tickets, which vary by venue and date, are $16-$40. Purchase at venue box offices; Ticketmaster.com or (800) 653-8000 or (866) 448-7849 (fees apply); and www.universoulcircus.com, with schedules and more information.