Universoul Circus

By: ellis j. still

About six years ago, I had my first visit to the Universoul Circus (http://www.universoulcircus.com/). I was a mentoring a young man at the time who was dealt a bad hand in life (for the purposes of this blog, I will call him Eric). I heard about the African American owned circus on the radio… that they were coming to the Newark, NJ area. I have heard good things about the show, but never experienced it myself and I wanted to support. Us as African Americans have a reputation for doing things haphazardly, so I didn’t expect a lot out of the show… it was just something to do. Boy was I wrong.


The show was awe-inspiring. The talent was great, and was accompanied with good music and amazing lighting. I would find out later that Eric had a great time, but he didn’t show it during the show. He had grown accustomed to not showing any signs of weakness to others, and appearing to have a good time, in his mind, was a sign of weakness. However, there was a point where his emotions lit up. There was a short skit the included the movie series “Roots” by Alex Haley, and Eric knew the script word for word. As it turns out, he watched the entire movie series of Roots many times over, and read the book as well. After the circus, he still had his bad days, and his good days, but he began to open up to me on a regular basis. This experience opened a door for higher levels of communication between us, and a higher lever of reflection and healing.

Since then, I have been a fan of Universoul Circus ever since. Tickets are inexpensive, and nowhere else can you find high quality entertainment in inner city communities that touches people’s lives. I have been known to borrow other people’s kids whenever the circus is in town, and when I met my wife, Tina, I would talk her into going. The last time Tina and I went, we bought tickets online through Ticketmaster, so we got seats up front. The ringmaster called us up into the ring to participate in this old school R&B lip-sinking competition. My Tina did her thing, but I bombed… I didn’t know the words to the song, so I had to fake it. It’s a popular song, but I am really bad with remembering lyrics. To this day, people walk up to me on the street or at church, joking and asking me if I had finally memorized the words to the song, and reminded me that I should have know them in the first place. :- )

I would imagine that it takes vision, perseverance, and faith to create an institution such as this, and I applaud Founder and CEO Cedric Walker for being persistent in creating something that is important to urban communities across the country. A personal delight of mine is that towards the end of every show, acknowledgement is given to the one who created us through song or in another creative art form. As a Christian, this is a part of the show that always touches my heart, and moves my spirit. Universoul Circus is fun for the entire family. My wife and I do not have any kids yet, but when we do, we look forward to taking them (and our grandkids in were lucky) to Universoul Circus!!!!

© 2010, Ellis J. Still. All rights reserved

Photographs and images ©  Universoul Circus. All rights reserved

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