“Every Soul is a Circus” — humor by Dig Wayne

November 24th, 2019



photo by William Gottlieb/Library of Congress

Louis Armstrong, Aquarium, New York, N.Y., ca. July 1946


Every Soul is a Circus

by Dig Wayne




…..Few people knew that the great jazz trumpeter Louis Armstrong was also an accomplished ballet dancer. It was said that his Arabesque variations were breathtaking. The ballet giant and super centenarian, Martha Graham, who was famous for being frugal with praise, was left in a state of calm that rivaled hypnotism after witnessing a brief example of the New Orleans native’s pirouettes.

…..The stories of Satchmo’s unlikely talent finally reached the ear of JFK who was in tumult with the Cuban missile crisis. Knowing that the Russian leader, Nikita Khrushchev, was a lifelong balletomane, the young president enlisted Pops to travel to Russia as an official envoy for peace via the arts, to which he agreed.

…..However, much to Louis Armstrong’s chagrin, he was instructed to leave his beloved horn at home and to pack his ballet shoes. Against his better judgment, Pops caught a jet to Moscow in preparation to dance for his country.

…..Sitting with his finger on the button, Khrushchev was finally persuaded to take a night off and enjoy a surprise gift from the United States offering good will. That night, Pops danced the role of the forceful ringmaster in Martha Graham’s sparkling ballet: Every Soul is a Circus. The Russian premier was overcome with emotion.

…..Backstage after the performance, Louis Armstrong gave Khrushchev the gift of his ballet shoes. Speaking through interpreters, the Russian told the American: “You have given me a fresh understanding of the joy of life and I thank you.” To which, Louis Armstrong replied: “Solid, Dad. Just make sure you and the beard get them boom-booms out of my backyard and we be cool, ya dig?”





photo Christine Vlasak

Dig Wayne lives in Los Angeles, California with his wife and two children. He is a former professional singer and songwriter. For the last several decades he has been a professional actor. Dig is now an acting instructor at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute. He is proud to be a life member of the Actors Studio NYC and Los Angeles. His poetry and photography can be found in the online magazines Felix and Citron Review. His poetry has been published in the literary journals, Askew and Spillway




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One comments on ““Every Soul is a Circus” — humor by Dig Wayne”

  1. Oh, just the thought of Pops dancing on his toes! Armstrong’s reply to Khrushchev to end this short piece is priceless. Thanks for sharing, Dig.

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