Jugglers at Cirque de Demain 2020

This years Festival Mondial du Cirque de Demain was a bit controversial. On stage there was unplanned nudity, protest, and a serious accident. However, that did not stop the jugglers from shining! There were 5 solo jugglers: two ring acts, a ball toss juggler, a ball bounce jugler, a diabolo act, a hoop act, and a juggling troupe with LED props.

I had a great time watching the A and B shows in Paris on the 1st of February, and this is my review of the festival. You can find reviews from previous years here: 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016.

If you haven’t done so already, consider watching the full A show online here on Arte, it is well worth it!

Thanks to Jona Harnischmacher for all the pictures in this article, except for the picture of Benedikt Baumann

Golden medals

The 2 golden medals went to Celien et Nicolas and to 1.2.3. Marinich Foundation.

Celien and Nicolas did a beautiful synchronous swinging trapeze act with a very high technical level. After getting their arms covered with red paint and being lifted onto their trapezes, their opening trick was a front flip which made sure I was watching with all my attention during the whole act. You can see a version of their act here on YouTube.

1.2.3. Marinich Foundation was a Korean cradle duo. Their act was a mix of absurd slapstick, messy props such as flour, confetti, and a water bucket, and great tricks on the cradle. The two characters had an interesting relationship which seems to be part of a larger story, I hope to find out more about them soon. Besides the gold medal they also won the audience award. You can see their act as part of show A on Arte.

These two golden medals seem well deserved to me. However there was also a Grand Prix, which they handed out for the very first time last year and supposedly is even higher than the golden medals. It went to Troupe de Guangzhou, which was a slack wire solo act with a few dancers and a musician composing the rest of the troupe. Although the tricks seemed impossible, I was surprised that it was awarded with such a high prize as it was practically the same act as Li Wei showed 12 years ago at Monte Carlo. The same moving apparatus, the same skills, in pretty much the same order…

Controversy

A few things didn’t go exactly as they were supposed to happen. On Thursday, the first night of the festival, the flyer of Trio Tribarre made a bad take-off from the Russian bar and crashed on the floor. She passed out and the show was stopped, luckily she walked out of the hospital the next day and will not have permanent injuries.

On Friday, the hair hanging pair Francesca Hyde & Laura Stokes removed all of their clothing at the end of their act, other than a ribbon in their hair they were completely naked. The festival wasn’t made aware of this, and on Saturday they had to wear underwear. Their breasts remained uncovered. Also, the duo held a rainbow flag during the parades, when usually only national flags are carried.

On Saturday, when I saw the show, Erwan Tarlet decided not to perform his full straps act. Instead he removed his shirt while hanging from one arm, and on his chest was written “Demain?” (which means “Tomorrow?”), and did nothing for the rest of is act while his music and light cues continued as normal. At first I thought it to be a comment about the festival, but on instagram Erwan revealed that it was A broad invitation to targeted reflection on the climate crisis and more…
His action was applauded by some, booed by others, and definitely got many people talking. His performance was aired live on TV but later got removed from the Arte website, you can still watch it here on his own YouTube channel.

Object manipulators

The jugglers of the festival will appear here in the order I saw them on Saturday, first show B and then show A. Both shows were opened by a snippet of Cie Lapsus’ show Boutelis. In this snippet we got to see banquine, unicycling, kite flying, and Stéphane Fillion juggling clubs in front of a mirror installation.

Tom Lacoste

Tom, from France, performed an amazing 1 diabolo act. All of his movements were perfectly synchronised to the sounds of squeaking doors, and he made good use of his flexible body. It was funny, clever and surprising throughout! He changed from recorded sounds to live sounds made by himself, which allowed him to improvise when a diabolo got stuck in the string. I hadn’t even noticed this was not part of the act until I heard that it hadn’t happened on the other night of the show! His diabolo tricks were relatively simple, but executed perfectly. Tom’s act can be seen here on YouTube

Tom was awarded a silver medal.

Arttu Lahtinen

Arttu, from Finland, performed his graduation act. I had seen it a few times before, but it looked even better on the large stage of Demain. He traps rings between his body and another ring, and rolls these around his body in various original ways. Then after a few minutes, without any warm-up, his first toss juggling trick is a run of 5 ring lazies straight into the pattern. He finishes with a perfect 7 ring cascade, which looks beautiful with these extra large rings. There is a trailer of his act on YouTube

Dima Bakhtin

Dima, from Ukraine, performed a ball juggling act. He had some interesting body throws, ran 5b mills mess, and moved to electronic music. He was very physical, doing kicks and tricking in between his juggling. I much enjoyed the 5 pinball to cascade, which was very smooth. At the end of his act he did 3 attempts of a 9 ball flash, starting the 9th ball from his feet. Sadly, he did not manage to collect them on the night I watched.

Luminous-J

Luminous-J is a juggling group from Japan, led by Tempei Arakawa. Tempei had previously taken part with a solo act in 2011, and getting yourself on the festival twice is no small feat! The 8 jugglers performed with all sorts of LED props. Balls, clubs, diabolo, devilstick and poi! Most of the act consisted of tightly choreographed club passing, the LEDs were programmed to the music. It was very upbeat and diverse, but sadly not very original.

They were awarded with a special prize.

Benedikt Baumann

Picture by Arthur Hofmeester

Benedikt from Hungary performed with one hoop. I have been following him on instagram for a while and was very excited to finally see him perform live. He was in total control of his hoop, catching and throwing it around with different body parts whilst tumbling and contorting around on the stage. His rhythmic gymnastic informed style is beautiful, and his extravagant persona works very well on the large stage. Towards the end of his performance he got up in the air in a strap loop, whilst keeping the hoop spinning. There is a short interview with snippets of his act on YouTube, and you can see the full act on Arte.

Benedikt was awarded with a bronze medal.

Kateryna Nikiforova

Kateryna from Ukraine performed a bounce juggling act. The act was set perfectly to the music, as if the music was visualised through her juggling. Her V shaped platform had a flat board at the bottom which allowed her to also do straight bounces. It is always hard to perform an act with a static prop on a large stage, luckily on the video this isn’t a problem at all and you can watch this on Arte.

Filip Zahradnicky

Filip from the Czech Republic performed his ring act. As a puppetmaster he playfully brings his props alive, and runs around all over the stage. He exchanges original traps with more typical 3 ring patterns and rolls, and finishes with a 6 ring fountain whilst balancing a 7th. It was very engaging, and I recommend watching it back on Arte. Filip also recently made a Tricks of the Month video for the IJA!

Filip was awarded with a special prize

All in all it was a good year for juggling, and it was well worth the trip to the festival. Thanks for reading, and thank you Jona Harnischmacher and Arthur Hofmeester for the pictures!

Daniel Simu

I am a juggler and circus performer from the Netherlands. I travel all over Europe to learn, create, discuss, perform and organise, and I am always looking for fun projects to join! Feel free to contact me about anything :)

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