TurboFest 2012

The End of the World Begins With TurboFest VI, according to the poster announcing the Quebec City juggling festival.  You certainly would not want the world to end without having attended TurboFest.  This event has become wildly popular in just a few years.

I arrived about half an hour after the doors opened on Friday night to discover that the space was already teeming with jugglers from near and far.  Jugglers from the north eastern states, Ontario, Quebec, and Florida filled Quebec City’s Circus School nearly to capacity.  In fact, it was a strain to accommodate all the local spectators who turned up to see the show on Saturday night.

Some jugglers traveling up from the US got together en-route for a pre-Turbo warmup to ensure they were in full festival mode the minute they arrived.  There is a special energy at this festival that no-one wants to miss.  Jugglers from afar can stretch out a sleeping bag on the tumbling mats in the basement.  There is a snack bar that sells homemade sandwiches, juice, fruit and Quebec brewed beer at very reasonable prices.  You really don’t have to leave at all, except perhaps, to sample poutine at a local restaurant.

Friday night features a popular Renegade style show with live music,  TurboMan and TurboGirl get the extroverts in the crowd to try all kinds of stunts, from the serious to the bizarre.   I’d never seen anyone land a back flip with a diabolo on a cord looped over the shoulder and between the legs, and still have a spinning diabolo.

Saturday featured lots of workshops using both the stage and the downstairs tumbling rooms.  Even more people showed up during the day.  Everywhere you looked in the building there were people juggling.

I was forcibly reminded what a great incubator a festival can be.  A friend asked me to juggle with a young girl who was getting comfortable with club passing.  It turned out she was pretty solid with basic four count, so I showed her how to add some basic passing tricks to that.  Although she claimed she had never passed a three count, it only took a few minutes to get that going.  Jim’s three count and pass-pass-self seemed to come naturally to her.  At this point, two very skilled jugglers who had been watching this phenomenal learning progress came over and started working with us on four person passing patterns, some of which I’d never seen before.  Festivals are great for this kind of spontaneous sharing that helps everyone advance their skills.

The Saturday evening show was so well attended that it will probably have to move to a proper theater before too long.  Becky Priebe kept the audience laughing as the MC, and also performed her wacky Barbie hoola hoop act.  Duo lumix presented a club passing act with programmable glow clubs that changed color in sync with their passing patterns.  Les Beaux Freres presented a new acrobatic passing routine. Les Soeurs Kif Kif disappeared into large pink balloons and bounced around to everyone’s delight.  There was a dramatic aerial silk act, and a stunning hand to hand balancing act.  There was much more juggling.  The team hardly has to recruit from outside to put on a fabulous show.  Even so, the two invited guests dazzled the crowd as well.  Patrik Elmnert had everyone holding their breath as he kept finding seemingly impossible ways to balance rings when he wasn’t juggling large numbers of them.  Guillaume Martinet showed more ways to move while juggling than most people had ever dreamed of.  Guillaume gave a workshop on Sunday afternoon and it seemed that nearly everyone tried to attend.  The main floor of the school was full as he demonstrated that you can do amazing things even with one ball.  Unusually for most workshops, he held their attention for a full ninety minutes.  Then he gave a demonstration of just what he could do with all the basic moves that he had just shown.

There was a fire jam outside in the snow Friday evening before Renegade.  And then some team juggling improv late at night.  A volleyclub competition started soon after the end of the public show.  So much to do, so little time.  A frequent lament through the weekend was “This festival has to be longer”.

TurboFest is over for this year, but the organizers are already making plans for next year.  The end of the world will have to wait.

The International Jugglers' Association holds the largest week-long juggling festival in North America. The convention is held in a different city each year during mid-to-late July since 1948. Aside from the competitions, at the convention there are shows open to the public in which professional jugglers perform, and workshops are taught by jugglers of all skill levels.

Comments 1

  1. Just to add to Don’s review, this year at Turbo Fest, we had the pleasure to receive the fabulous juggler Vladik at our Renegade show on friday night. His performance took everybody’s breath away!!! Dralion, the Cirque du Soleil show, was in town so he came after his gig to perform on live music for the amazement of the whole festival.
    Got to thank everybody that came to the event, we are looking forward for the Mayan to make a mistake so we can have a 7th edition of Turbo Fest!

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