Circus surprises East Flatbush kids

It was non-stop Big Top.

Dozens of Brooklyn youths got an entertaining springtime surprise last week when the colorful, boisterous UniverSoul Circus came roaring through their East Flatbush youth center.

The much-publicized circus, currently on tour around the city, paid a rare neighborhood visit to nearly 100 underserved kids at the Madison Square Boys and Girls Club on Bedford avenue April 14, and was received with waves of laughter and cheers.

“It was a very a unique opportunity because it’s not every day a circus comes to you versus you going to the circus,” said Stan King, clubhouse director at the youth center. “Some parents might not have the means to take their kids to a circus, so the fact that they were able to come to the Boys and Girls club and perform for our crowd was a positive thing.”

The brightly-costumed performers had their young audience in awe with breathtaking acrobatics, limbo and balancing acts and a dance exhibition-off. After the theatrics, they fielded questions about the 23-year-old traveling circus from curious youngsters, who had a lot to ask.

“They were speaking to our young people and telling them about the history behind the circus, how it was founded, and why they bring acts from around the world,” King said. “It was an absolutely great and wonderful opportunity for the kids to comment and they were very happy to answer their questions.”

The Madison Square Boys and Girls Club operates facilities in the Bronx and Brooklyn, serving mostly youths of color ages six through 18, and saw the UniverSoul appearance as a coup.

“We provide a vital service for the community and we open our doors when kids need us the most. It’s something that is really needed in the community and being able to partner with the circus for entertainment and activities, gives the kids a chance to see something positive and that uplifting,” King said.

The clubhouse director admitted that he, too, was entertained, but got a bigger thrill watching the joy the event brought the kids.

“Pretty much I loved everything, and I loved to see the impact and the smiles it put on the young peoples faces — that was the greatest moment for me,” he said.

The single-ring UniverSoul Circus was established in 1994 by Cedric Walker, who had a vision to create a circus featuring a large percentage of performers of color. He recruited internationally, and currently the Atlanta-based circus features performers from more than 20 countries worldwide.

Reach reporter Alexandra Simon at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at asimo[email protected]

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