Hi Meltingpot Readers,
It probably won't come as much of a surprise to you that one of my dreams as a child was to join the circus. Once I discovered that there was actually such a thing as clown college, I figured 'clowning' must be a legitimate profession. I mean, if you have to go to college first...
Something about the bohemian lifestyle, the traveling, the performance, it all spoke to me. But my parents weren't feeling it, even with a degree from a prestigious clown college. So, you can imagine my thrill at being assigned a story to write about the UniverSoul circus for the Philadelphia Inquirer. (The story comes out in a few weeks. I'll link to it then.)
Honestly, I always assumed the UniveSoul circus was a little circus that only featured Black performers. Boy was I wrong. I got to interview the CEO and founder of UniverSoul, Cedric Walker, while he was in Ecuador searching for new acts, (No, I didn't get to jet off to Ecuador, we spoke by phone.) and by the end of our almost two-hour conversation, I was ready to run off and join the circus again. UniverSoul features performers from far flung places like Gabon and Belarus, China and Chile. The performers are young and creative and they bring their own culture, language and music to the show. Walker told me that while UniverSoul did start out only featuring Black performers, he had to go international to find new acts. And what's really great is that he is giving a lot of talented circus performers from countries in Africa and Latin America a chance at international exposure. Good for them and good for us.
Walker told me that just hanging out behind the scenes at UniverSoul, listening to all of the different languages being spoken and watching the interaction between the performers during their down time, is just as exciting as what goes on under the Big Top. Apparently the common language between them all is hip hop and they share a kind of global youth-led urban culture. I love it. And that's why I'm giving the UniverSoul Circus The MyAmericanMeltingpot Mention of the Month.
Have you ever seen the show? What did you think? Here's a little taste.