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Cirque du Soul

Clowns and kids get funky in Brooklyn.


That other world-famous circus may also be in town, but don’t let that stop the family from zipping over to Prospect Park to take in the high jinks of the UniverSoul Circus, the only present-day African-American circus. For its fifteenth birthday, it’s staging a special show called Jabulani: Joy, Happiness & Laughter, from March 26 to April 13. The one-ring spectacle has been called “hip-hop under the big top,” and it features traditional acts—all with a spin—from Europe, China, Russia, Africa, and Brazil performing to R&B, gospel, and funk. “Parents should know it’s the ultimate in family entertainment—it’s for everybody from infants to the elderly,” says the ringmaster, Tony Tone, a stand-up comedian–actor and father of a 5-year-old girl. The two-and-a-half-hour performance is highly interactive: Audience members can hokeypokey in their seats and join a “Soul Train line” in the ring. There are clowns, horses, tigers, and elephants that do handstands (Tone’s daughter’s favorite). One crowd-pleaser is a Noah’s Ark–themed animal act with camels, zebras, and more. “That’s one of the kids’ favorite, seeing those animals from different species together doing different tricks,” says Tone. He’s fond of the Mysterious Brothers’ comedy trapeze act—it starts out funny and then goes “berserk.” Children will giggle at that and delight at the kids’ dance contest, as well as the young contortionists from Guinea. Expect them to get (amusingly) grossed out by a “romantic” silk aerial act (ew!), then gawk at mimes performing “gospel miming.” If you miss the Brooklyn dates, catch the Soul Train line at its next stops in Queens and the Bronx.

3/26 to 4/13, times vary. Wollman Rink, enter through the Parkside and Ocean Ave. entrance (800-316-7439 or ­; $11 to $28.50.


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