Crawley Circus Festival 2004

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The Hawth, Crawley

14-Aug-2004 to 15-Aug-2004

I arrived on Saturday morning to join Andrew & Anna who had pitched overnight. John was also about, Tasj joined us for the show & Simon managed to avoid us for the entire convention. The theme for this year's festival was myth & legend, the reception area was decorated with dragons made out of modelling balloons & after some great British queuing I picked up my pass for the convention which was a lovely little dragon pendant.

The main juggling hall was pretty busy for most of the weekend. The theatre seats give a lovely view of everyone practising, unfortunately because of the theatre lighting all pointing at the stage everyone tends to chose to juggle facing away from the seating. Thomas Dietz & Niels Dunker were both running five club back crosses on triples for ages which was a very impressive sight. Thomas also did some four club hi-lo showers with pirouettes (or should I call them 360s?)

Jason Perry & Sandra from Fistful of Lice were doing some nice passing with five clubs & a football passing 4 count with the five clubs & bouncing the ball between their heads in the gap.

It was nice to meet up with the Hastings lot again for some big passing patterns. Gary & I managed some amazing runs with many seven club patterns & I also set a new personal best with eight clubs (Dave K won't be happy). A little later a group of us worked on a nice set piece I learnt from Sean Gandini where one pair passes seven on singles, then another pair passes seven on doubles over the top then a third pair passes seven on triples in a four count pattern over the top of the whole lot. It took us a lot of attempts but once it is running it looks amazing.

Shockingly I even attended a workshop! It was hosted by Beinn & Marylis & we all got to play with their new set of juggling playing cards. The cards are a normal deck of 52 playing cards, but in addition to the suit & value each card lists three tricks which take the form of either a throw, a catch, a pattern or an action depending on the suit. The idea behind the cards is to provide a way of stimulating new ideas for combinations to practise. We were all given a set of four cards one from each suit.& we all went about trying to combine them in some way. I ended up juggling Half Mess then doing a Slam throw directly into an Elbow catch, the last bit of which was fiendishly difficult. Thanks again Marylis for saving my deck!

I still think that Juggle Juggle Revolution is a highly underused resource though...

A lot of people spent most of the convention outside in the sun on the lawn. There seemed to be a healthy number of seven ball jugglers all practising together. Many people had fun whizzing round on a motorised microscooter in different ways.

The Show

The first of three acts from Germany this year was by Marcus Furtner who came over to show us some of the skills that made him the star at the European Juggling Convention in Carvin. He started off playing with a single devilstick which was very good but nothing groundbreaking. But then a second devilstick was thrown on & after kicking both up into simultaneous propellors the audience hardly stopped screaming. Propellors in every possible combination, body moves, pirouettes & even through a blitz of strobe lighting. No one else at the moment even comes close to handling two devilsticks with such ease.

Current juggling legend Thomas Dietz took to the stage to show off his IJA gold medal winning abilities. Lots of five club backcrosses, lots of pirouettes with five balls, five clubs & seven rings & lots of his trademark siteswap tricks. The best bit of his act for me though was when he messed up a trick, managing to drop every single prop in the process then collapsed to the stage in embarassed laughter. Great stuff!

Acrobalance duo Tuyo returned to Crawley with their high strength adagio routine & Arron Sparks also brought back his yo yo looping skills. Both very enjoyable acts which were nice to see again.

As well as being the compere for the proceedings Rod Laver (aka George Clooney) even did his own spot with his trademark ping pong balls, performing as ever with great showmanship, handling heckles with quick humour & style. I've seen Rod perform many times but he always seems to have new material. One of his new tricks this time round was playing the tunes of three blind mice & Beethoven's Ode to Joy by bouncing balls off of a scale of gin bottles.

Last on stage was aerial duo Girisho who did an artistic rope act which for the most part consisted of the two climbing/descending past each other on the rope in interesting ways. There was a worrying moment where what looked like dust or debris possibly from the fixings of the rope was falling from the rigging, but it turned out to be the start of a downpour of water that drenched the performers while they continued to climb past each other on the rope. It was probably a good act but I'm still not a fan of aerial stuff. I kind of get the impression that the main reason they were on last was because they flooded the stage.

The best act of the show for me was Tom Future (brother of Marcus) who performed a sensational 1, 2 & 3 diabolo routine mixed with lots of very slick body popping. He pulled off lots of really nice moves including the most beautiful hand grind I have ever seen. It was so good that even Andrew who usually hates diabolo stuff enjoyed it.

Between the Furtner (Future?) brothers, Thomas & Rammstein Germany is easily one of the coolest countries in Europe at the moment.


Marcus Furtner sent up Thomas Dietz by reproducing his act using pretty much 2 less balls/clubs/rings for each trick. In retaliation Thomas reproduced Marcus' double devilstick act...using 2 less devilsticks. Compere Richard experienced an unpleasant up-kilt moment. Ross performed probably a little too much poetry (but hey no one else was getting up on stage). Alan Fell made the audience ooh & aah with some fire eating. Little Paul did a short & sweet live action advert for the TricksWithHats DVD. The man's pretty good with a hat.

The Games

Another major highlight of the Crawley festival are the games which are treated with the seriousness that they deserve. Aside from the usual five ball endurance, three ball & club gladiators etc. which you get at every convention we enjoyed a few more 'speciality' games.

I thought I did quite well in the balance an unusual object on your chin endurance. I entered using Andrew's Rocky Raccoon. It was a bit too light & short for my ability & the tail got in my eyes so I was always on a loser.

Yet again honourary TWJC member Danny failed to win the unicycle race around the car park despite using a larger wheel than everyone else. I don't think that this is because he starts later than anyone else which after all is only fair. I think the real reason is because his competitors pedal faster to get away from the lunatic in tight red lycra.

One of the Crawley favourites is the hopping gladiators. Which is as simple & as stupid as it sounds. My foot hit the ground after I took a very pointy shoulder to the solar plexus. Nothing though could compare to the sheer brutality witnessed in the adult round of musical chairs... When the music stopped there were some serious tussles in which the poor chairs took severe punishment before big Tim was crowned the eventual champion.

Yet again well done to Dave Law & the people at Crawley Community Arts for another top weekend. Crawley is such an easy going festival to attend & the show was top notch. If the preregister process could be improved for next year though that would be great!