Lucky Malatsi
Ringmaster Lucky Malatsi engages the audience during a UniverSoul Circus performance at the National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Md. (Courtesy of UniverSoul Circus)

Sisters Amaya, 10 and Jada, 8 had the time of their life on Saturday, July 9, as did hundreds of others of all ages during their journey of “light, sound, soul and edge-of-your seat performances,” all courtesy of the world-famous UniverSoul Circus.

The two Fairfax youth, accompanied by an aunt and their grandmother, had just finished their very first camel ride when they stopped to talk about their experiences at the circus.

“It’s been amazing and the performers are really talented,” said fourth-grader Amaya.

Jada, a third-grader, agreed, adding, “I think I could do this one day, maybe be the ringmaster like the one they have – he was really talented.”

The girls’ aunt, Sharon Pritchard and grandmother said the circus was a great way to expose the youth to positive, educational experiences – something they try to facilitate each summer during vacation time.

“This was a perfect day for the girls. After all, the UniverSoul Circus is a lot of fun no matter how old or young you are,” Pritchard said.

Now in its 23rd year, the one-ring big top show continues its four-week run at National Harbor, Maryland through July 31. It features a talented multicultural and multinational cast of stars who never fail to amaze and delight their fans during a 2 ½ hour non-stop production of back-flipping canines, twirling bicycles, free-flying aerial acts and just about everything else one could imagine.

Performers represent almost every part of the globe including: the Ethiopian Pole Act from Ethiopia; Aerial Duet from Columbia; Bicycle Tricks from China; Airborne Motorcycles from California; Motorcycle Globe of Death from Columbia; Caribbean Dance and Limbo from Trinidad and Tobago; Russian Bar from Cuba; and dancing elephants from the U.S.

“UniverSoul celebrates cultures from around the world and brings them together under the big top,” said founder and CEO Cedric Walker. “At this time in our history we need to come together, to embrace and learn from each other. I believe the circus naturally brings people together. In 23 years of searching for talent, I’ve journeyed to every continent to find a multicultural, multinational mix of talent to showcase.”

On Wednesday, July 13, local McDonald’s franchise owners, like Craig Welburn Sr., the owner and operator of a District-based McDonald’s, interacted with guests during the annual Community Night event, sponsored by local McDonald’s franchisees.

“The UniverSoul Circus is filled with great performances for the entire family to enjoy,” Welburn said. “My fellow McDonald’s franchisees and I are proud to sponsor the UniverSoul Circus for the sixth year in a row.”

There’s one person who brings the entire show together and probably knows the most about the fascinating cadre of performers – the multi-talented Lucky Malatsi, 27, who first joined the circus in 2000 at the age of 10 as a duo contortionist and now serves as the Ringmaster. Since joining the circus he’s been an acrobatic hip-hop dancer, trapeze artist, teeterboard flyer, trampoline artist and an acrobatic-dunking whiz kid with basketballs.

Walker spotted the South African native during a performance in 1999 and quickly signed him. Lucky says, as the cliché often goes, “the rest was history.”

“I’ve been doing this so long there’s really nothing else that I can remember – even my wife and my two children (ages 6 and 17 months) travel with me,” said Lucky, who received his early training under the tutelage of his Uncle Prince, an accomplished performer and acrobat who took his nephew on his first international trip as a performer to Germany when he was just six.

“Mr. Walker has put together an interactive circus with performers from all over the world and a show that offers non-stop fun and music. The party never ends here and I believe we’re the greatest show on earth.”

“The great thing about us [the circus] is we really are one big family. Not even language serves as a barrier – we find ways to communicate.”

“My job is to keep the show going and to think on my feet,” he said. “When I was a performer I just did my act and then got to relax until the show was done. Now, I have the chance to interact with the audience between each act. I love it and I’ve learned to expect the unexpected. People may forget what you said or even what you did, but they never forget how you made them feel.”

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D. Kevin McNeir – Senior Editor

Dominic Kevin McNeir is an award-winning journalist with more than 25 years of service for the Black Press (NNPA). Prior to moving East to assist his aging parents in their struggles with Alzheimer’s,...

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