I was fortunate enough to be flown to Vienna earlier this month to attend Summer Flame 2012. An old friend of mine (Sebastian Berger) was part of the organising team and invited me over as his guest. To be honest I don’t go to many juggling/fire conventions I'm always to busy doing gigs and running my business, but Seb is an old friend and I couldn’t resist.
I arrived to the festival site and was confused to say the least. The site was a cross between a construction site and an airfield with an impressive but very random art installation in the form of a wooden and glass house filled with hammocks. It was all a bit strange but at the same very interesting.
Seb explained to me that the area was due for complete re-generation and would, in five years’ time, consist of houses, shops, offices and a university. In a move that can only be described as both far sighted and inspired, a local artist convinced the authorities that for culture to thrive in the new area, it should exist from day one, not as an afterthought once the project was complete. The result of this is that many cool and funky little projects are being funded on site; one of these was Summer Flame, which explains why the festival was in a building site!
So, I arrived at the festival and there was stress in the air. The people supplying the tent were late, when they did arrive they were missing some equipment and it was looking like the tent wasn’t going to get set up. As the tent was needed for all the shows and workshops this could have been a disaster. But the tent suppliers, the organizers and those of us who had arrived early all pulled together. Holes were drilled, metal was moved and with a great team effort from everyone a huge marquee was installed by about midnight. Personally, I had a great time putting this tent up and think it should be part of more festivals as it’s fun and a great way to get to know people.
The next people started to arrive. Performers and teachers booked to work plus excited festival goers looking forward to workshops, shows and the all the other cool stuff that goes on at these types of events. The weather was great, blue skies and very hot (somewhere in the mid-thirties), this heat made swimming in the lake even more enjoyable. As usual people were juggling everywhere from the kitchen to their tents and I was very quickly struck by the overall level of skill. There were a lot of very, very good jugglers and spinners from all over the world and the beginners had an amazing opportunity to train and play with such a high caliber of performers at such a small and friendly event.
What followed was five days of awesome-ness. There were good shows every night and workshops on everything from throwing staff to tango dancing for beginners. I'm not the workshop type but the feedback from other festival goers was that the workshops were of a high standard and a great variety.
If the festival is a sign of things to come for the quality and amount of culture that exists in the area once the construction is finished then I look forward to visiting again.
Some personal highlights of mine:
• Hanging out with the Lido graduates. The Lido is a French Circus school and this year’s graduates were on a mini tour of Europe delivering shows as they went. It was really inspiring to see so many dedicated and passionate performers at the beginning of their careers. (Especially as I'm coming to the end of mine).
• The shows, I won’t mention any individual acts as they are were all great and some were amazing. Let’s just say that I really enjoyed them all and it reminded my slightly jaded and stressed out little head how awesome object manipulation can be!
• Ok I just lied, I am going to single out an act to mention. Magma Fire Theatre (Linda Farkas) delivered a solo fire show of the highest order. (The reason I'm picking her out is because I make my living from solo fire shows and it was very interesting to see hers). The show was packed with insane costumes, stunning movement and a very high level of technical skill. I loved every minute of it and it went down a storm with the crowds.
• Watching Carlos Munoz juggling five clubs from singles to doubles to triples and back down again without his feet moving an inch (I admit it I'm a juggling geek).
• Most of all hanging out, cooking, eating, training, burning and having a laugh with an amazing group of people.
So, a massive thanks to Seb and Chrissi for looking after me so well, the whole crew of organizers who did a great job in stressful circumstances, anyone who cooked me food, all the teachers and performers, Yuna/Una for being cute and playing with me when I was bored and everyone who made the effort to be there and add to the fun….Hopefully see you guys next year!
PS If you want to know a little bit about more about me then check out my websites below: