Two years ago, when this writer first spoke with and subsequently met the multi-talented Lucky Malatsi, a South African native who worked his way up the ranks to eventually become the ringmaster for the world-famous UniverSoul Circus, his fairy tale story seemed almost impossible to believe.
But for Lucky, now 29, who first joined the North American, single-ring big top sensation at the age of 10, and who remains firmly entrenched at the helm, he can’t imagine life without the music, laughter and unparalleled artistry that he and his fellow performers exhibit show after show.
“We’re on the road for 10 months and for many of us, like me, this is all we’ve ever known. Even more, this is not a job. For me, and for our ever-growing audiences, the UniverSoul Circus is all about fun. So, while some might see our schedule as one that’s grueling and difficult, as far as I’m concerned, it brings great enjoyment, satisfaction and love into my life,” said Lucky who has held jobs that include contortionist, acrobatic hip-hop dancer, trapeze artist, teeter board flyer, trampoline artist and acrobatic-dunking whiz kid prior to his being pegged as ringmaster.
But what’s so different about the UniverSoul Circus and how has it been able to survive when so many businesses fail before their second year and when other former industry leaders like Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus found themselves forced to close [May 2017] after decades of unequalled success?
Ringmaster Lucky says he has the answer.
“We’re an interactive circus and we have performers who come from all over the world yet believe in the oneness, the unity of humankind,” he said. “As we celebrate our 25th year, we are proud to continue to show the beauty of cultural diversity — something that defines us and makes us unique — while also sharing the joy that comes from embracing such diversity with our many fans and supporters.”
“We’re mostly celebrating the world, the global family, and we can only hope and pray that in a world more separated now than ever before, that we can show the way toward believing and living in a way that illustrates the fact that we are members of one family who must find ways to co-exist in one world.”
Along with Cirque du Soleil, UniverSoul Circus remains rated as one of the top two circuses in America. Since its founding in Atlanta 25 years ago by concert and theater promoter Cedric Walker, it has continued to add to its circus acts, theater and music with a cast of international performers who have contributed to its emergence as a perennial favorite for entire families.
Ringmaster Lucky says he has a job that many can only dream about.
“The party never ends, even when the lights go down, and we all believe, without question, that we’re the greatest show on earth,” he said.
“We really are just one big family and even find ways to communicate despite differences in language. My role is to keep the show going, to think on my feet and to interact with our audiences between each act. People forget a lot of things as time goes on, but they always remember how you made them feel.”