The blue-and-yellow big top of UniverSoul Circus has taken over the parking lot of Raymond James Stadium.
Beneath it, you'll find about 75 performers including acrobats, contortionists, dancers and animal tamers from Africa, Russia, Trinidad and Tobago, Brazil and the United States with an urban aesthetic and a hip-hop beat.
"We do our own thing," said Hank Ernest, UniverSoul Circus Media Relations. "We are a single-ring big-top with intimate seating where you will probably be touched, literally, by a performer.
UniverSoul Circus has touched audiences for 19 years, since Cedric Walker, a former entertainment mogul who worked for such groups as the Commodores and The Jackson 5, created the circus to bring together black families, much the same way the gospel comedies he produced in the '80s did.
Walker travels the world looking for thrilling, high-adrenaline, and, often, nerve-wracking acts, that will keep families entertained.
This year's theme, the "Mash It Up Tour," encompasses Walker's intense search for talent around the world, which this year resulted in two UniverSoul traveling shows, Ernest said. Tampa is the first stop for the "Mash It Up Tour."
The 15-city tour includes Vincent Clark a Capella singers and the Human Beat Box from the United States; seven female contortionists from Africa; A Cuban/Russian high-bar act, a Vietnamese head balancing act, and China's Shaolin Warrior king-fu acrobats.
And there also are performing animals, such as the Magic Cat Comedy act featuring live tigers from Africa, horse tricks from Russia and Africa, elephants, zebras and a French dog act.
And back for his 19th year is ringmaster sidekick Zanda Charles, known as "Zeke," with a brand new bag of tricks.
The circus tries to introduce new acts, music and choreography each year to keep it fresh, Ernest said.
Unlike arena-style events packed with nosebleed seats, no audience member is farther than 50 feet away under this tent, so they may find themselves right beneath the high-wire act.
"This circus wants to continue to evolve and diversify and find the best acts from around the world, regardless of their background," Ernest said. "Talent is a terrible thing to waste. You never grow too old for UniverSoul Circus."
UniverSoul Circus: Mash It Up Tour
Where: Raymond James Stadium, in the parking lot, 4201 N. Dale Mabry Highway
When: 10:30 and 7:30 p.m. Thursday, through Feb. 24
Tickets: $16 to $30, free for children under age 1; www.ticketmaster.com and (800) 745-3000