Review: UniverSoul Circus

Wednesday night, we went to the UniverSoul Circus in Washington Park. I hadn’t heard of it before it showed up as a  ticket on discount ticket website. It seemed to be a circus filled with acts from around the world so I was intrigued. Later, I found out from the profile in the Chicago Tribune that it bills itself as the only African-American owned circus in the US, which is really cool. We had a fantastic time. It was like you mixed a traditional circus (with animals) and a dance party. And dancing makes everything better. I think I enjoyed myself more than the fancy circuses that I went to in Vegas. The atmosphere was livelier and the circus was freaking amazing.

One of my favorite acts was the opening act. It was a combination of dancing, limbo, and men dancing on stilts. Women in flowing costumes or trains and feathers spun and jumped. It was truly vivacious. They played the limbo with a stick on fire. One gentleman bent underneath it balancing a flaming bottle on his head. So cool. But my favorite thing was the stilt walkers. They did things on those stilts, like back bends, that I didn’t think were possible. I don’t just want to learn how to walk on stilts; I want to learn how to dance on them. There were also two-story puppets controlled by one person each. I also want one of those too. They really emphasized this party atmosphere.

Another one of my favorite acts was the funambulists, or the tight wire walkers. Yes, I’m biased towards wire walking but we all have our biases. This was a wonderful combination of wire dancing and tricks. The walkers’ footwork was amazing; they made it look like it was easy. They also did some crazy bends on the wire (with the use of balancing poles) that I didn’t think you could do. They really didn’t look like they were balancing at times. And then they had some tricks like a two high. A TWO HIGH on the wire!!!! There was another bit where they had a woman in a two high hop from one shoulder to another. Craziness. And then there was a lovely little Michael Jackson tribute on the wire. Such a fun act.

There was also a neat swinging trapeze act too. There were four different catch points, so people really soared across the stage! There was also a wonderful acrobatic duo that used umbrellas as props. Yes, I’m also very biased towards umbrellas so this was the act for me. The lady of the duo would balance and flip the umbrellas with her feet. At one point, she balanced and juggled at least five umbrellas at the same time while balancing on her partner’s back.

Unlike a lot of circus I see, this circus had a lot of animals. My favorite animal act was the small dogs act. These tiny dogs flipped, jumped through hoops, and even went down a slide. They even did a conga line! But what made it ever neater was one of the dogs was a comedian. The dog would refuse to do the trick (all staged, I think, like the slide. At one point, he ran away and hid under the other dogs. It was a dog clown! There were elephants and a magic trick that involved white tigers. Very neat. I even got the opportunity to ride an elephant! It was a short ride, twice around the ring,. This was the second time I’ve ridden an elephant so it wasn’t as shocking as the first. The first time, I learned what it was like to have your entire seat shift significantly side to side! I had a child in my lap and three children behind me, and it was the greatest thing ever.

The emcees were fantastic. They basically encouraged people to dance throughout the show. There was a Soul Train competition, a dance off between a young and an older couple, and more. It was such a positive environment. At intermission, we got up to inquire into elephant rides when a very concerned woman behind us asked if we were leaving. When we told her “No,” she was relieved because the best part was in the second act. The Soul Train part was her favorite. She told us that she had been coming to the circus for at least seven years and this was her favorite part. When time came, she raced up there to be selected. She got to show us her moves. I was really happy for her. We need more occasions to dance for the sake of dancing.

So I totally plan on going next year. It’s going on for a bit longer this month so you should check it out.

That’s all!

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