|Since 1994 Cedric Walker, founder of UniverSoul Big Top Circus, has been
operating the nation's only black-owned, operated and performed circus.
Walker admits that when he and co-founder Cal Dupree, who doubles as
ringmaster Casual Cal, began many people told them they were crazy.
Skeptics insisted that blacks did not attend circuses so the venture would be
a "white elephant." The circus not only debuted to sold out crowds in
Atlanta, it has survived all the negativity and has received acclaim for its
artistic and technical strength.
The Soul circus features a troupe of international performers personally
recruited by Walker from some of the best known circuses worldwide. As always
this year's troupe will feature traditional circus acts all set to an
African-American beat. Headliners include South African bone and body twister
Lunga, Cuban heartthrob Ricardo and the popular Gabonese Acrobatic Troupe
audience and favorite Jean Claude. As always the cavalcade of talent is led
by ringmaster "Casual Cal" and his sidekick Zeke. When Casual Cal greets the
crowd with "Yo, yo, yo, yo" and does his James Brown-inspired dance moves,
audiences very quickly realize they are in for a unique entertainment
But Walker and company are committed to more than making us laugh. He
explained that it is equally important for his circus to be located in
African-American communities that are typical underserved by mainstream
entertainment. And all personnel in the maintenance of the circus--from
raising the big top to providing on-site security--are contracted from the
communities where the circus touches down.
UniverSoul will make this and international affair when they performance in
Johannesburg, South Africa, July 13 - July 29, 2001. This first international
performance will benefit the Nelson Mandela Fund, Streetwise and Education
Africa. HBO will be on hand to document this special performance for airing
at a later date. The first UniverSoul Circus HBO Special premiered in 1999 on
the HBO Family Channel. It was one of cable outlet's top rated programs and
even received an Emmy nomination.
But you need not wait for the television program to truly enjoy this uniquely
wonderful family spectacle. The theme of this year's show is "Unexpected Soul
2001." UniverSoul Big Top Circus sets up its tent at Capital Plaza in
Landover, MD from May 20-June 3, 2001. They then head on up the Parkway to
Mondawmin Mall in Baltimore, MD from June 5-10. For tickets and information