To set up the XIII Festival of the Circus of Tomorrow and its auxiliary event, the IV Festival of the Circus of the Future, was not an easy thing. However, we we were still disappointed by the cold social atmosphere. Moreover, the "peons" in charge of managing the traffic of the artists and the friends of the artists destroyed all the aspects of the exchange which contributes to the soul of a festival. The attraction of the shows remained intact, but the joy surrounding it was lost.
Like every year in Paris, the best was mixed with the worst. It's always necessary to take your pain with patience, and enthusiastically support the bad clowns, crying children, and the average level of the competition to, in the end, discover the true circus dream and the few marvelous acts.
Dadadeus, winner of a bronze medal, created a character of a genial musician with long grey hair, powdered generously, who exercised his talents with white balls. He worked on a little stage in the shape of a piano, painted black and set on a white circular rug. There was also a marble slab for bounce juggling. Dadadeus was accompanied by his own pianist. All this showed an original followed to the end, with no detail neglected.
Olivier Groszer, an excellent juggler of balls and clubs, masters his character. He also proved himself when his tape suddenly stopped in the middle of his act. He reacted naturally, without any aggressiveness, and decided to sing his own music when the sound engineer couldn't quickly solve the problem. Once the sound was back, the juggler found his place to finish on the last note, like he should. He escaped from this bad situation without any embarrassment, and succeeded in turning a problem to his advantage. What class, what skill! Groszer earned a silver medal.
On the trapeze, Uwe Neitzel did everything well, with some juggling. Unfortunately, despite the aesthetic, the emphasis was only on the feat and the risk. A great act now must be not only extraordinary, but at the same time beautiful to watch. He won a bronze medal.
A Chinese act took your breath away. Imagine four charming young women on big unicycles. With perfect synchronization and in totally new combinations, these jugglers threw to each other a varying number of bowls and caught them on their heads. The act was short and reduced to the essentials, which added to the strong impression it left. They won a gold medal.
Red Ryder, a young American juggler, did a humorous act based on his master, W.C. Fields, but Red is essentially a street juggler and didn't touch the audience. He received a special mention from the jury.
Gerard Clarte presented an act with a good scenario where he worked with balls and devil sticks, finishing with two sticks simultaneously. But it was a little too much "new look" for the traditional circus audience.
The Duo Danae, a young couple from the East Germany, were innovative in their presentation of ball juggling. They used two platforms connected with a slack wire, and juggled balancing on their heads on the wire. It was a wonderful demonstration of juggling, which was unfortunately not very well appreciated.
Hans-Jochim Schell juggled with a devil stick, then one, two and three diabolos. He introduced the third diabolo into circulation with a small home made apparatus. He has not been working long. At age 20 he started juggling balls, but has been working on the devil stick and diabolo for three years. He has had help in putting his talent into an act from Todd Strong, Yves Neveu and Guy Caron.
The XV Circus Festival of Monte Carlo was held in early February. The show has always been the big reunion of both circus professionals and amateurs. This year, however, we regretted that the Chinese artists were absent for political reasons.
Two good jugglers were at the festival. They unfortunately left the feeling that they were not circus ring numbers, but more suited to stage or cabaret work. Rudy Schweitzer, certainly a great name in juggling, didn't use the entire ring, and this hurt his performance in the eyes of circus fans.
From nearby Nice, Terry Parhad hardly stood a chance for a prize. His ideas were nevertheless very good and his use of a drum for his juggling was something you don't see much. A musician himself, he personally wrote the music of his finale. Feeling very good about now working at the Moulin Rouge in Paris, Terry Parhad nevertheless found himself a little out of place in the Monaco ring.
Frederic Bollmann lives in Sorvilier, Switzerland, where he edits a circus fans' magazine called "Cirque."
It was a great moment in his career when the 23-year-old West Berliner, Oliver Groszer, received a silver medal at the 13th Circus Festival of Tomorrow in Paris from the famous circus director and clown Annie Fratellini. He was the first West German ever to win a silver medal at the festival.
I've had the pleasure of witnessing Groszer's development during the past several years, initially as he worked on the streets of Berlin with his former partner, Detlef Winterberg, as the pantomime/comedy duo Ramsch Royal. I got acquainted with him through Karl-Heinz Ziethen, who encouraged him to specialize in juggling and spent a great deal of time showing him videos and his juggling archive. Shortly thereafter I began to take pictures of Groszer, and since then have become a great fan and have assembled a voluminous collection of photographs. Groszer was practicing up to eight hours a day, and still practices as much as his busy schedule will allow.
Groszer has come to know famous jugglers such as Francis Brunn, Michael Moschen and Neil Stammer, and been grateful for their inspiration and counsel.
In 1989 Groszer was on tour with the French circus, Archaos, in Berlin, Great Britain and France. Now, following his success at the festival in Paris, a new stage of his career has begun - TV appearances and international engagements in music halls and night clubs.
Groszer is technically good with balls and clubs, but it is his movement which sets his act apart. His routine includes elements of jazz and break dancing, which he integrates with special tricks such as a simultaneous balance of five balls, or the balancing of a teaspoon on his forehead which he lets fall to catch behind his ear. He ends his act with Bobby May's cigarette trick, throwing one behind his back to catch in his mouth, then catching a lit match in his mouth to light the cigarette.
Groszer also has other abilities. He started with theatre when he was still in school, and has even appeared as an actor in French experimental films. Here is a fine example of his talent: at the festival in Paris there was a moment during his first performance when his taped music suddenly stopped due to technical problems. Silence! But Groszer didn't lose his poise. He began to sing the music and continued juggling.
The story of his youth in East and later in West Berlin was described in two exciting books by his mother, Franziska Groszer, who is a successful writer. It is mainly for this reason that we took photos of him at and on the Berlin Wall. We can be sure that Oliver Groszer will continue his steady artistic development, and that we will be seeing a great deal of him.
"The College Show." It has a generic ring to it, and conjures up certain images in a juggler's mind. First and foremost, of course, is comedy. The college show is always funny because, well, college students like to laugh. When you play to college students, you have to make them laugh.
Bill Fry "Comedy in the Air" showed during a recent North Carolina appearance why he's so popular on college campuses. Appearing in a crowded, small, very low-ceilinged room at Lenoir Rhyne College, he kept the audience yucking and guffawing for a full hour.
You might not call it an artistic juggling show, but there's certainly an art to successfully entertaining an audience weaned on MTV and sitcoms. Fry keeps them enraptured with manic comedy, rattling off one-liners and yanking sight gags in rapid-fire succession out of a packed suitcase. The cornier it got, the more the audience loved to hate it. How about an introduction to a box routine where he talked about his favorite two Williams - Shakespeare and Fields - who said, "All the world's a small liberal arts college in the South and if you aren't wasted the day is!"
But in between those bits of belt-level humor, the show contains some routines whose development has obviously cost Fry a great deal of mental energy. Following its sophomoric introduction, his box routine turned into a group of visual puns set to a Shakespeare-inspired original poem.
The "Eight Days of Christmas" routine takes a lot of on-stage energy, as Fry dons a Santa cap and gets the audience to sing along with the familiar tune as he juggles: a chicken in a pear tree, two canes a-spinning, three sharp objects, four fruits a flying, five gold rings (a natural for jugglers), six scarves a soaring and a 7-Up can. The eighth day disappeared somewhere!
Other material in his deep bag of tricks included juggling clubs off of various parts of his body called out by audience members, and presidential imitations with three ball tricks. Reagan does shoulder throws from the right and falls asleep on stage, Nixon does fake shoulder throws and Gerald Ford takes a pratfall while trying to do a shoulder throw.
Fry is a very talented technical juggler, as well as a likable stage persona. Another high point of the show was a very skilled top hat routine, set only to the "oohs" and "aahs" of the two halves of the previously divided and coached audience.
He involved audience volunteers throughout the show. In one routine, he stood on his head and juggled scarves upside down as a member of the audience held his legs in the air. He got a lot of time and comedy out of passing clubs with three volunteers, explaining that he missed the team juggling he enjoyed as an original member of the defunct team Gravity's Last Stand.
Fry is well-known in the college market as a long-time member of the National Association for Campus Activities (NACA). He had booked 15 shows in the spring and said he had a good start on the fall. In between, he was looking forward to returning to his home in Charleston, S.C., for its annual Spoleto Festival. Fry acts as street performing coordinator for the Piccolo Spoleto part of the event. For a month each summer, up to a dozen performing friends from around the country descend on his house for communal living, socializing and street work. Fry and several others regularly perform on the streets each year as the Oddballs.