Bob Bramson - Beyond Awesome!

IJA Historical Achievement Award, 1996

As a young man, Bob Bramson's father, Paul Renner (Bramson), was a passionate billiard enthusiast. It was this sport that inspired him, in 1905, to develop an act with rolling hoops which, in effect, was a billiard table act transferred to the floor. Just as the billiard player puts spin ("English") on the billiard ball to make it go where he wants it, so Paul Renner put spin on his hoops, making them obey his will.

Bramson in 1951In the contemporary world of entertainment, the name Bramson is synonymous with hoop rolling and juggling. Bob Bramson, born in Berlin in 1933 (as Young Horst), comes from a well known family of performers. His maternal grandfather, Leon Rauch, (his stage name was La Roche) became famous around 1900 for inventing the "Wonderball". This large sphere rolled mysteriously up and down a spiral track 8 meters high. The secret was that Rauch himself was hidden inside the hollow sphere, carefully shifting his weight to propel the ball forward. Rauch's daughter Gerti (he also had six sons) took on the "Bola Mysteriosa" in 1927 and performed the act for two years before she met and married Paul Renner (1884) on a tour of Russia. Renner, a performer since 1901, was actually trained as a bookbinder, but had been juggling since he was sixteen.

In St. Petersburg, 1904, Renner appeared on stage under the name of "Bramson" for the first time--working with a partner, tennis racquets and flying Mexican sombreros. Later he concentrated on juggling and hoop rolling, developing a hoop act with his wife. An attractive and original routine, it was the first to use hoops with electric lighting. Invisible until their lights went on, the hoops then looked like multicolored, spinning balls. It was the dawn of the electric age and Paul Renner took out German, British and American patents on this invention.

During the Nazi era, the two Bramsons suffered persecution on racial grounds and were unable to perform under their internationally famous stage name. It was not until 1945 that they finally worked again as the Bramsons, now as a trio with their son. Bob, who began practicing at the age of six, had his schoolwork and a heavy training schedule - ballet, piano and guitar lessons, as well as juggling.

After a career spanning more than fifty years, Paul Renner suffered a heart attack on stage at the Apollo Theatre in Dusseldorf and died in 1953. Bob and his mother carried on the family act until 1964, when Bob went on to work solo. In 1968 he met and married Elizabeth, a member of the Hungarian club juggling troupe, the Five Luxors. Thanks to her training as a juggler, she quickly took on the role that Bob's mother, who died in 1980, had played. Later, Elizabeth retired from touring to enable their daughter to attend school regularly, and today runs a ballet school. Bob continues to perform as a solo artist.

Bob Bramson's performance is full of original ideas and many difficult juggling moves--with up to five hoops (including back crosses) - making it unique among contemporary acts.

SpinningA description of an original Bramson trick involving ten large hoops: Bob balances two rings placed one on top of the other on his head, then spins three on each arm while his right leg rotates one hoop around his ankle and another around his thigh!

another move of unequaled technical difficulty is a balancing/juggling combination in which he balances a hoop on his head, spins two on his right leg, and juggles four hoops sideways behind the back and through the hoop balanced on his head. Bramson's seven-hoop juggle is also amazing, not least because of the difficulty of holding so many large hoops. The hoops are 2 centimeters thick and must be held together in the palm of his hand. Other jugglers can hold narrower rings between their fingers.

The hoop rolling part of his routine includes some astounding moves. The hoops have a life of their own as they wander across the stage, yet always obey their master's will. In a final trick Bob is rolling his hoop, into a cage placed at the opposite side-of the stage. The hoops hesitate and circle the enclosure again and again before consenting to roll in and settle down.

In his fifty-year career, Mr. Bramson has worked in Europe's foremost circuses and on the world's greatest stages and TV shows, such as the Ed Sullivan Show in 1962, 1966 and 1968. In 1965 he performed at New York's Radio City Music Hall. In 1971 Bob was seen in Las Vegas at the Tropicana "Folies Bergere Show", and at the Dunes Hotel, 1975-76. In 1989 Bob took part in London's Royal Command Performance.

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