A rare specimen, a juggler who is ultimately a clever poem cast in flesh and blood.
While attending boarding school as a teenager, I started juggling just as many other classmates did for a short time. Unlike them, however, I was immediately and permanently electrified by this activity. I locked myself in the school gym for nights on end, training and exercising. After a short time, I had a small repertoire of feats and on the weekends went to the next town to supplement my pocket money with street performances. After graduation, I returned to Berlin with the intention of becoming a professional juggler.
In Berlin I was very fortunate to meet the guru of jugglers: Karl-Heinz Ziethen. He knew all the great jugglers worldwide and had written many books about the art of juggling. During the day I trained by myself, and at night I studied with him, watching the videos from his archive and listening to his comments and stories.
On tour we played in Copenhagen and London, participated at the Edinburgh Theatre Festival, and finally performed in Paris at the Cirque d’Hiver Bouglione where the famous international circus festival Cirque de Demain was soon thereafter to take place. Every year, this prestigious festival attracts circus artists of all genres.
Spontaneously, I decided to participate, stayed in Paris and devoted myself to this competition. During the festival, which lasted less than a week, artists performed at least twice.
A panel of international experts judged each performance on the following criteria: originality, technique, music, and artistic dramaturgy. At the premiere, all contestants ran into the huge ring waving their national flags. Just after the impressive ceremonious opening, I had my first performance. Everything went well at the beginning, but when I tried to balance the five balls, one ball rolled off my knee. That shouldn’t have been a problem because the sound engineer knew my signal to stop the music and restart the tape in such an emergency.
The audience applauded when I repeated the trick, but unfortunately the audiotape only hissed loudly. Three thousand people held their breath; the presenter entered the ring to stop my performance. But I would not let myself be driven away. Powerfully singing the music accompaniment, I continued my juggling act without a hitch. It was a huge success and got rave reviews. I advanced to the semi-finals and then on to the worldwide televised final gala attended by all the major agents as well as variety and circus directors. Standing on the podium afterwards, I received the silver medal at the awards ceremony.
That momentous day launched my international career and to this day, I am grateful for my deep and abiding friendship with Karl-Heinz Ziethen.
After almost three decades juggling worldwide, I then set off on other exciting traveling adventures.