1 of 15 Shannon McCollum
Come one, come all! UniverSoul Circus will be heading soon to a city near you. This year marks the sixteenth anniversary of the only African-American-owned and operated circus in the United States. The cast now features performers from 11 different countries around the world.
ESSENCE.com got a sneak peek of the spirited show. Adults and kids alike will be fascinated to see a woman from Ethiopia who juggles tables and vases with her feet, dancers from the Caribbean and a ringmaster who has seven names.
Click on to get preview of the show and see what the performers have to say!
2 of 15 Shannon McCollum
Haymanont Habte, 21, won a competition in her native Ethiopia to train as a professional juggler in China. UniverSoul Circus later discovered this gifted beauty. When Haymanont first saw other performers juggling tables she said, “I thought it was amazing, that’s what made me want to do it.”
3 of 15 Shannon McCollum
The 105-pound performer admits she does get a bit tired after juggling tables for a long period of time. She can also juggle vases with her feet. Please don’t try this at home.
4 of 15 Shannon McCollum
Superstar singer/actress Beyonce will not be performing at the show but these three female impersonators who call themselves “The Single Ladies” want to give B a run for her money. Now put your hands up!
5 of 15 Shannon McCollum
Your ringmaster for the evening is none other than Ms. Maggie Shirley Lee Mae Frances Upshaw Jenkins. She’ll remind you of every woman in your life—your auntie, sister, mother, friend and let’s not forget the neighbor who knows all your business. Ms. Maggie is actress Patrice Lovely who now resides in Atlanta. Lovely is no stranger to performing with stars. The talented thespian has shared the stage with gospel singer Kelly Price, Lisa Raye and the late Gerald Levert.
6 of 15 Shannon McCollum
This South Africa native has been with the troupe since he was 9-years-old. Now, at age 19, Daniel Malatsi serves as the sidekick to the loud-talking Maggie Shirley Lee Mae Frances Upshaw Jenkins. Malatsi also known as Mr. Lucky tries his best to tame Ms. Maggie’s never-ending quest to share her words of wisdom whether you like it or not.
7 of 15 Shannon McCollum
These beautiful ladies traveled all the way from Trinidad and Tobago to be a part of the UniverSoul Circus. Their act has been a part of the circus for 12 years.
8 of 15 Shannon McCollum
One of the dancers shows off her skills by going under a flaming rod. We are so impressed!
9 of 15 Shannon McCollum
This act features the only woman in the United States who rides a horse from all sides. Witness some of their amazing and dangerous tricks such as hands-free riding, horse-side riding, and cruising under the horse.
10 of 15 Shannon McCollum
There are performers of all ages at the UniverSoul Circus. The boy on top is Mamadou “Bobo” Sylla. It’s his first year riding with the brave acrobatic, horse-riding performers.
11 of 15 Shannon McCollum
We’re not quite sure what’s going on with sad, old “Onionhead,” but as one of the veteran performers of the UniverSoul Circus, we hope he cheers up soon.
12 of 15 Shannon McCollum
One of the talented James Brown Dancers gets ready for the show. The dancers were trained by well-known choreographer Chris Flournoy, who has worked with singing group TLC and other artists.
13 of 15 Shannon McCollum
This has to come in handy in tight situations! These flexible performers are only 11 and 13 years old and both can pop their joints naturally in and out of sockets. To see it is to believe it!
14 of 15 Shannon McCollum
It takes a special kind of trust and teamwork by artists Henry Gonzalez and Johan Torres to self-power a wheel, whirling at tremendous speeds while skillfully carrying out gutsy gymnast moves. Again, do not try this at home.
15 of 15 Shannon McCollum
Want more? Check out the show for yourself. The UniverSoul Circus is on tour around the country until the fall. Find a show near you:
Brooklyn-April 8-26; Bronx, New York-April 28-May 3; Newark, New Jersey-May 5-10; Washington, D.C.-May 14-31; Baltimore-June 2-7; Norfolk, Virginia-June 9-14; Greensboro, North Carolina-June 16-2; Indianapolis, Indiana-July 14-19; Kansas City, Missouri-July 24-26; Dallas, Texas-July 28-Aug 2; Houston, Texas-Aug 4-9; Birmingham, Alabama-Aug 12-16; Memphis-Aug 18-23; Cincinnati-Aug 28-30; Cleveland-Sept 2-7; Detroit-Sept 9-20; Chicago-Sept 23-Oct 18; St. Louis-Oct 20-25; Oakland-Oct 30-Nov 8; Los Angeles-Nov 11-22
Tell us your favorite circus story below.
You may like
Get The Essence Newsletter and Special Offers delivered to your inbox!