By OnMilwaukee Staff Writers   Published Aug 04, 2003 at 5:10 AM

The UniverSoul Circus, the first circus in a century to be owned and operated by African Americans, pounds its stakes into Milwaukee's Summerfest grounds, August 5-10.

The show, dubbed "Cirque du Soul" by the media when it first opened in 1994 in Atlanta, Georgia, features a troupe of international performers of African descent recruited from some of the most acclaimed circuses in the world.

The two-hour performance has all of your favorite traditional circus acts and animals, set to a soundtrack featuring gospel, jazz and blues music. Profiled in a 1999 HBO special, the Soul Circus also includes a rock-style laser show with high-tech sound. And don't be surprised if the ringmaster shouts "Yo, yo, yo!" instead of "Here ye, here ye, here ye!"

Founder Cedric Walker is committed to placing his circus in urban communities and all of the people involved in its maintenance are contracted from the communities where the circus touches down.

"These people come from all over the world," says Walker. "Their hearts and souls are there."

Last year, the UniverSoul Circus toured 48 states, performing for more than two million people. Show times and ticket prices vary depending on the day and time. Group discounts are available and children under a year old are free. To order tickets, click here.