The 40th edition of Festival Mondial du Cirque de Demain took place last weekend. Young circus performers showcase their acts, and compete for medals and awards. I saw the A and B show in Paris on the 2nd of February.
The A show can be watched online here, it has about half of the acts described bellow and I’d encourage anyone with an interest in circus to watch it before reading on!
It wasn’t the best year for juggling. There were 3 ball juggling acts, but they weren’t very good compared to the other acts and none of them won any medals. However there were 5 more acts with some form of object manipulation, and some of those did better so they shall be included in this review too. But before we get to all of that, let me quickly describe the rest of the festival to you!
My friends at the festival
This year was a very special edition for me, because for the first time I had a bunch of my own friends on stage! Jarno Polhuis from the teeterboard troupe, Mikail Karahan with a cyr wheel, and Christopher and Milena with duo trapeze, all of them have attended the Codarts circus school in Rotterdam during the time I was there, and I had met Julian Saether the juggler a bunch of times at conventions.
I was very excited when Jarno was waving the large Dutch flag in front of my seat, the first performer from my home country in the 6 years I’ve been attending the festival. Even better was the act of Christopher and Milena, seeing my own former classmates on one of the greatest stages in the world made me cheer obnoxiously loud and I was super proud 🙂
Project PDF (Portes De Femmes)
A group of 16 female hand to hand acrobats got to open the show. In the last years there has been quite a bit of critique on the festival for selecting too few women for their programming, and this seemed to be a response to this critique. Their opening was amazing, with the highly skilled ladies running through the audience, building 3 high towers in the pathways, handstand and headstands on each other on the stairs and crowd surfing through the audience. It was an excerpt of their longer show which was recommended to me, so I’ll keep an eye on the calendar of Project PDF.
Despite this seeming acknowledgement by the festival of the critique, there were still only 7 women in the competition versus about 36 men.
A brand new best award!
The highlight of the festival was the Scandinavian Boards. Seven graduates from DOCH in Stockholm created the act for the festival, combining their stunts in an epic choreography. Four of the performers were already medal holders at Demain. They worked really well on their synchronicity, and jumped from board to board in what could be described as human juggling! All of the jumpers were able to throw a full full (double back somersault, each with a full twist) on the right timing, which got a standing ovation in the middle of the act. Their last sequence ended with a triple back somersault back to the board. This act received the highest score ever given by the jury, and a whole new prize was created in celebration, the “Grand Prix de Cirque de Demain.”
Gold awards went to the dance trapeze act of Arthur Morel Van Hyfte from France, and the Chinese acrobatic troupe from Dalian, more about the latter down below!
My favorite.. Silks!?
If you had asked me a week ago what my least favorite discipline was, silks would have made it high on that list. I was therefore very surprised to see two incredibly strong silks acts at the festival! Mizuki Shinagawa from Japan did an exciting act with a counterweight, rolling down in the silks while the silks themselves were being pulled up. My favorite act of all the festival was from the Brazilian Diego Salles. It was full of surprises, starting with Diego suspended by his head in the cloths as depicted above. He was funny, gender bending, had an incredibly powerful stage presence and strong original tricks. Both silks acts were awarded with bronze medals.
And now, on with the juggling, in the order of appearance on Saturday (first the B show, then the A show)
Kostiantyn Korostylenko – Ukraine
The 19 year old Kostiantyn is a beautiful juggler! With his ballet inspired style he dances and jumps around on stage whilst juggling 3 or more balls around his body. The act was created with his trainer Yuri Podzniakov, the famous juggling teacher from Raw Art. Kostiantyn uses his shirt to catch and toss up balls, performs some front flips, and finishes his act with a 10 ball multiplex cascade, like Alexander Koblikov (who also worked with Yuri). Although all his actions were very beautiful, the act seemed a bit all over the place and was therefore a bit of a mess. I hope that he keeps on exploring his own style and I’m sure we’ll hear more of this young juggler in the future! Kostiantyn was awarded with the trophy of Alexandra Bouglione.
Hyperhook – Germany/Turkey
These 3 trickers used umbrellas to spice up their floor acrobatics. To be fair they hardly fall in the category of object manipulation, but as my photographer Florian made such a big effort to make the black costumes stand out on the black background I did not want to withhold this picture from you ;). Although I found their performance a bit flat, with the lack of progression and charisma, the audience loved their flips. They received a special jury award.
Chinese acrobatic troupe from Dalian
The Chinese meteor act was, like the above, more about the acrobatics then about the meteors. Besides the occasional passing toss, the meteors were only used for regular spinning. I was surprised they used cups at the ends rather than balls, as they were obviously empty. Even the LED meteor used in the finale were cup shaped! The act consisted of various flips on the floor whilst keeping the meteors spinning, and a bunch of banquine (two bases locking their hands together to toss up a third person) tricks. They were an enormous crowd pleaser and won a gold medal!
Julian Saether – Norway
Julian had pink balls scattered around the floor, and a voice over of himself was playing in which he was talking about some kind of struggle. On the back of his shirt the text “I will win this war” was written in large handwritten letters. According to the programme the act was about a schizophrenic character, before I read that I guessed that “depression” was the theme. Julian would pickup balls and perform some complex 5 ball siteswaps and multiplexes, and then go on to do a 3 ball or 1 ball sequence, jumping from one to the other. He did an incredible run of 9 balls and a 7 ball half shower in the middle of his act, but they were almost lost and did not receive the focus from the audience which I think they deserved.
Marula Eugster Rigolo – Switzerland
Marula Eugster Rigolo performed the Sanddorn balancing act which was devised by her father 23 years ago. I do not understand at all why this act got featured at the festival. It is the same act as I first saw performed 10 years ago. A simple physics trick allows all bow shaped leaves to be balanced on top of each other, which seems to have little to nothing to do with skill. Marula, her sister Lara, their father and a bunch of associated artists have been performing this routine for years all over the world. The invention is clever indeed, but in my opinion serves no place between the most skilled young circus artists on the festival. Half of the audience seems to be caught in the incredible tension of the act, the other half seems bored by the repeating action of stacking leaf after leaf.
Marula won the trophy of Agency EDS
Winston – Venezuela
Winston Maldonado did a magic act, producing endless cards and cigarettes. It was about the struggle of stopping with smoking, every time he tried to hold himself away from the cigarettes they kept popping up in his hands. He had to do his act all the way in the back so the audience couldn’t see behind him, which made it not ideal for this large stage. It must have looked better on live TV. Winston won the prize of Telmondis
La Testa Maestra – Spain/Colombia
Noemi Burgos Ruiz and Miguel Angel did a ball bouncing act, all the time sharing a few balls in simple Prechac patterns. They started out on a floor bouncing slat with Miguel standing behind Noemi to make symmetric 4 armed shapes, and then moved to their rolling table. They were cleverly able to bounce on the top and bottom of the table, and Miguel could stand on the table bouncing 3 balls while Noemi would spin the table around. Although their act went without any obvious drops, I perceived it to be a bit too slow and minimal. Their finale trick was 7 ball bounce passing on the table. You can watch their act online here.
Cie Soralino – France/Italy/Brazil
The last ‘juggling’ act of the day was also the most fun one! Caio Sorana and Clement Malin did an act adaptation of their full show INBOX. They played games of balance, stacking and tossing with 22 cardboard boxes. Although their act was mostly about clowning and character, they were incredibly adept at catching and balancing the boxes flat on the top of their head, which looked very funny. In the end they stacked up all the 22 boxes into one large column, and it was exciting to see if they would manage or not. They were awarded with a bronze medal. You can watch the trailer of their full show here.
That’s me, shortly before the first show started. Watching 6 hours of show in one day is exhausting, but an experience well worth it once a year :). If you haven’t already done so, you should definitely watch the A show online on Arte!
All the pictures in this article were taken by Florian Ziemen, you can find more of his pictures on his instagram.