Melvin Diggs’ strength and athleticism is beyond amazing. Picture doing a pull-up while holding yourself horizontally half way up a pole. Yes. Melvin can do this.
Melvin graduated from the prestigious École Nationale de Cirque in Montreal in 2014 with a focus on Chinese Hoops. After graduation, he was then selected to join 7 Fingers, a ground-breaking, internationally recognized collective that has been at the forefront of defining contemporary circus. It was during the last leg of his three-year 7 Fingers Cuisine & Confessions tour that Melvin started working on the Chinese Pole.
Having a strong acrobatic base, the ability to pick up many skills and a compelling personality on stage made Melvin a good fit for a small group show like Cuisine & Confessions. It also makes him a perfect fit for this year’s Midnight Circus in the Parks 2017 tour. Melvin first saw Midnight Circus perform when the troupe participated in the prestigious Montrèal Complètement Cirque. “The energy of Midnight Circus is amazing,” said Melvin, “It reminds me of Circus Flora from my hometown of St. Louis.”
Raised by a single mother on St. Louis’ north side, Melvin and his four siblings moved frequently throughout his childhood. In middle school, Melvin started getting into trouble. He was assigned a Big Brother from Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, a nonprofit that provides at-risk children with one-to-one volunteer mentors. Around 16, Melvin’s Big Brother set him up with a job taking care of kids at Circus Harmony’s summer camp located in St. Louis’ City Museum.
At the end of the summer, a woman approached Melvin saying she liked his work ethic and offered him a job at the City Museum’s snack bar. A week later while working the snack bar, Melvin saw Circus Harmony’s pre-professional troupe, St. Louis Arches practicing. He knew immediately that this is what he wanted to do, circus. The following week he started taking classes.
Two years later, Melvin was off to school in Montreal, then travelling the world with 7 Fingers and his fellow Arches alum, Sidney Iking Bateman going to places like Sweden, Romania, Russia, France, and throughout South America. Melvin describes his life as a world-travelling performer as surreal, “I’m a kid from St. Louis, I never thought I’d see any of these places.”
At 25, St. Louis remains Melvin’s home base with his mother, brothers and sister serving as an anchor. Whenever he gets a chance — which isn’t often — he goes back. However, no matter where Melvin is in the world, “My mom still takes care of me. She’s incredible — strong and funny. The story I contributed to Cuisine & Confessions was about my mom and I making an omelet. We used to make omelets together when we were alone.” Joining Midnight Circus in Chicago will bring Melvin and his performing partner, Sidney Iking, a lot closer to home giving their families and Midnight Circus audiences a lucky chance to see this incredible duo perform in the center ring.