UniverSoul Circus hits high note with audience
An act from Trinidad featured stilt walkers, puppets and flaming limbo during Sunday's performance of the UniverSoul Circus.
By Teresa Stepzinski
Feb 2, 2014
DeShawne Hendricks nodded with approval Sunday as he watched spellbound as an acrobat balanced with his head on top of the head of a fellow acrobat, while making the seemingly gravity-defying maneuver look effortless — at least to the 7-year-old Jacksonville boy.
“I can do that … well, maybe not just exactly like that on the other guy’s head. But I can stand on my head,” DeShawne told his grandmother, Estelle Marquease, as she hugged him to her while they watched the center ring.
“Oh, Lord, he’s going to be trying that as soon as we get in the car until his mom tucks him in tonight,” Marquease said with a chuckle in anticipation of her grandson’s upcoming efforts to mimic the acrobats.
Sifiso Kamela, 23, has been performing with the circus for seven years. A native of South Africa, Kamela is a comedian whose act includes getting members of the audience to join him in the center ring and duplicate his antics, whether it’s strutting like a fashion model on a catwalk, rocking out on air guitar or banging away on an invisible drum kit. He was a maestro directing the audience without a word, just a few toots on a whistle. Before he started doing comedy with the circus, Kamela was an acrobat. No two shows are ever alike, he said.
“We try to keep everything original,” said Kamela, adding he is continually updating his comedy routine. “There are little things that you change to keep it funny.”
Working with the audience is unpredictable but that is also what makes it fun, he said.
“We have people that will be hard on you and people that will be soft on you … but it all gets good in the end,” said Kamela, explaining some audience members catch on quicker thanothers when he gets them into the center ring.
Kamela said circus life is good. He’s made a lot of friends from around the world. But among the best parts is working with the audiences.
“You get to interact with the audience. That’s what we do here with the UniverSoul Circus, connect with the audience, and we have a great show,” he said.
Northeast Florida residents have one more chance to see the circus before it leaves Jacksonville for Tampa, which is the next stop on its 20th anniversary tour.
Its last show at the Prime Osborn Convention Center will be at 4 p.m. Monday. Tickets cost $16 to $35, but admission is free for children under 1 year old.
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