Universoul Art

Art by David Sandoval

From High Wire to Limbo on Fire: UniverSoul Brings World Circus Day to H&P

April 26, 2021

“I’m dancing in my kitchen right now” 

“THIS IS SO AWESOME” 

“Limbo … on fire?!?!” 

These reactions were just some of the takeaways from an exclusive, behind-the-scenes World Circus Day event from UniverSoul Circus and H&P. UniverSoul Circus graciously invited H&P staff, families and clients to watch their World Circus Day virtual rehearsal sneak peek. From human catapults to gravity-defying trapeze acts (without safety nets), the entire event was a smash hit. 

Putting the “world” in World Circus Day 

Steelmen

UniverSoul Circus is the only African American-owned circus in the United States and has provided breathtaking performances since the early 1990s. Made up of international talent from five different continents, founder Cedric Walker made it his mission to recruit the best and bravest performers around. 

The acts of this World Circus Day event were as beautifully diverse as the performers themselves. From Caribbean dances (and yes, an actual limbo on fire—muted Zoom screaming ensued), to high-energy international music, to costumes paying tribute to traditional Mongolian attire, UniverSoul Circus crafted a show that brought together and celebrated so many varied backgrounds and stories.

“I loved the international aspect of the show,” says Brianne Rowe, Senior Designer at H&P. “Being able to see so many different acts from different countries in one place was amazing.”

Incredible acts that left us speechless 

Circus Limbo

When you look around at people’s Zoom squares and see nothing but open mouths and widened eyes, you know this isn’t your average virtual meet-up.  

High wire performers from Colombia dashed across the wire—often without a pole—jumped over one another, and even rode a bicycle across at one point. Brazilian trapeze artist Webert hung upside down by his feet at least 20 feet in the air. The Mongolian Teeterboard crew literally catapulted one another to form a human tower, four people high. To say UniverSoul Circus put on an incredible, jaw-dropping and unforgettable show is an understatement. 

The energy of a Big Top, now on a desktop 

Circus Family

From concerts to live shows, so many of us miss the energy and excitement from in-person entertainment. UniverSoul Circus truly made the World Circus Day virtual attendees feel like they were right there, faces warming from the fire licks of the limbo stick. 

“I never thought it possible to attend a circus performance through a screen but in many ways, it was rewarding,” says Kelsey Worthington, a social media coordinator at H&P. 

Circus comments

Walker himself made a special appearance, and the cast even took time at the end for a special H&P Q&A, allowing viewers to submit or ask questions. One of the clearest messages was how much time it took to not only put together such a talented show, but to also build up one’s skills. Performers often started working on their craft in childhood, now full-grown adults (with the exception of two 11-year-old performers) and showcasing thousands of hours for audiences around the globe. 

The time, commitment and just plain fun energy of UniverSoul Circus didn’t go unnoticed, and the results were a show that blew viewers away like a ringmaster firing off a human cannon. As H&P Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Nicolet Gatewood says, “This was the highlight of the year.”