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The 25th European Juggling Convention, Bremen.
8-Aug-2002 to 16-Aug-2002
I'm not really sure about writing this review, this is supposed to be a website about juggling, but I didn't take a single piece of juggling equipment to Germany & probably did less than half an hour of juggling while I was there. Not many people did more than that either. Ah, so what. What follows is a very woolly account of what happened.
Tasj & I arrived on the 13th so we managed to miss all of the rain & only saw scorching sunshine the whole time we were out there but Dave K., Bryn, Andrew, Simon, Laura, Claire, Beth & Julien had experienced the mud in all its glory.
Germany is a great country. Travelling up from Lubeck airport, the public transport system was superb. Quick, comfortable, cheap & on time. Once we arrived in town we got a tram from the train station then started walking to site. On the way we got lost a couple of times but on both occasions friendly passers by stopped to ask us if we needed directions. The journey & indeed the entire holiday would have been no where near as enjoyable had it not been for Tasj's linguistic skills though. Buying tickets, food, asking for information, answering questions even getting in an argument with a public toilet attendant. I was so impressed.
The site was situated next to the Wendersee river & was quite a mudbath when we got there, Andrew took us on a tour around the site after waiting for over an hour at the site's front entrance while we snuck in the back way. In the centre of the site was a ring of tents with a large pool of mud in the centre. A few volunteers were constructing a path across the pool. It started off quite sensibly, being made out of wooden pallets, but after a while a tight rope was added, then a tunnel, then a walking globe until the path formed an amusing assault course!
TWJC spent most of the time in the beer tent. None of your licensing hour nonsense on the continent & sensibly priced too. There was a wide range of music being played by live bands & DJs. It's been a very long time since I have danced to 'Nelly the Elephant'.
One of the greatest features of the site was a simple playground turntable. Mounted at a slight angle the challenge was to remain standing on one of the upsides by continually walking up the hill. After a few seconds the turntable would be spinning very fast & after a few more you generally had to jump off or be hurled off. Juggling & passing on the thing for any length of time was almost impossible & highly amusing too.
Or open stage? I saw a guy do a very nice fire routine ending in a long run with five torches. Then there were a load of clowns so I went back to the beer tent.
What can I remember about the show? Erm.. the pizza was good for a start. First on was Marcus Furtner, a double devilstickist who was a superb example of how to juggle by feel rather than sight. He performed the 'basic' double propellers, synchronous single sticking & such like as well as propellers with both arms stretched out like a scarecrow & many other tricks where each hand does something different. Stefan Sing performed a very advanced if a little too long three ball routine. Very graceful with lots of ballet steps very solid headrolls including rolls around the shoulders too. Valentino struck me as an Anthony Gatto wannabe, despite all of the really impressive tricks he performed, he will only be remembered as the guy who wiggled his hips, thrusted his pelvis lots & pointed at the audience. Which is a great shame for a great juggler. The Gandini Juggling Project performed the 'Fergie routine', which consisted of the group juggling various siteswap patterns & calling out the number of each throw, or the name of who they were throwing to. They performed individually, in groups & in rounds creating an audio & visual rhythm building up into a climax that saw most of the group juggling while Sean & a friend lept & danced around the stage calling out the throws & patterns in typical Sean Gandini style & enthusiasm. I couldn't help but feel a bit of national pride. Also doing Great Britain good service were Feeding the Fish performing their unbelievably well choreographed gloclub juggling & swinging routine. Pity about all the flash photography, one day people will learn. I haven't seen many slack rope acts but I did like this one, the young girl slid down the rope on her back, did some lying & sitting tricks & even rode a unicycle. I was most impressed by the two people who performed with a double bass, starting off with some bizarre sounds made by striking the double bass in various ways, then the second performer came on & performed a highly technical diabolo routine. The bit I liked most was the swinging of the diabolo handsticks to wrap around each other's legs & body, nice work. Top performer though was the juggler borrowed from Circus Krone who was billed as the world's fastest juggler & I don't think many people would argue. He juggled clubs spinning them so hard & fast that they appeared to the eye as solid spinning disks. Three clubs, four clubs juggled below shoulder height, five below head height & six just above all with uncountable spin throws & lots of tricks. After a standing ovation he returned to juggle seven lower than your average four club fountain. Simply awesome.
Can't remember much as I was just lazing in the shade up on the bank. The five object endurance was an amazing sight, all manner of coloured clubs & balls together all turning a cascade. In England after a minute or so we have the competitors standing on one leg, taking off a shoe etc. but at the EJC it was just a straight endurance test. The clubs went on for over 5 minutes & the balls was almost 10 I believe. Not bad at all. I liked the idea for the diabolo handstick chin balance challenge, we'll be nicking that for our Festival I believe. The three ball yoga was a fun idea too, strange how so many people dropped at the simple turning around stage, naming no names! I only took part in one event & that was the enthusiastically announced three club gladiators, my total number of victims was just under double figures but I still didn't manage to last halfway through the game. To win a game of that size you need a lot of luck I think. Fantastic fun.
I apologise for the utter pants-like quality of this review, but hey I was enjoying myself.