This year, thanks I believe in part to some kind words from the Shiltons and Uri Yurman, I was invited to the Israeli Juggling Convention. Ultra-helpful Ron Atazky was the head honcho on this one, with the suave Itsik Orr and the studly Scott Seltzer taking over show and workshop duties respectively. Let's not forget my Tel Aviv host, Amir and his lovely friend Malcha. They were basically the first two people I met in Israel! This festival was pretty much the tops for me. Maybe Svenborg, or Sydney, or Scotland are similar to it in my mind, but the oh-so-friendly-and-hardcore-about-juggling-people and the freakin'-incredible-but-down-to-earth-and-really-cool-performers made it quite possibly the best festival I have ever attended. Memories? Here's a sadly incomplete list: Having a 10-hour layover in London. Going to Oddballs and juggling the day away there. Scoring a new cell phone in Paddington and the dodgy places I had to go to get it unlocked. My insane cab ride from Tel Aviv airport to Amir's apartment. Crashing in the kitchen with the cats while Maksim and Markus and everyone slept. Learning Hebrew from Amir at brunch that day and using it for the rest of the trip. Swimming in the Med Sea and walking along the beach that first morning. The Bus driver from HELL and the negotiations to get Markus' bass in the car. Gan Hashlosha and its beautiful surroundings. Meeting Roman and Nella from Tr'espace, not to mention getting schooled at vertax by Roman. Finally getting to meet Scott Seltzer, Uri Yurman, Ori Roth, Bar, and Dekel. These guys are all studs. Let's not forget my ol' EJC homeboys as well--Ron, Segev and Ofek. They've all gotten WAY better than I have in the last three years. Spending time and juggling with Maksim, Jochen and Florian also remains a highlight. Legendary jugglers and great guys to boot. Maksim even went so far as to lend me his cell phone to call the U.S. when I lost mine and was crying about it like a baby. Thanks bud. The Passover-homestyle food was awesome! I ate the same thing for breakfast, lunch and dinner and never got sick of it. Speaking of food, the Shiltons took me to an incredible restaurant before the International gala. The workshops were insane. I almost puked after the breakdancing workshop. The kendama workshop and the balls workshops were great, but the 2 diabolo workshop with Assaf and Roman was the highlight. We were all sharing tricks and pulling gnarly stuff. Incredible energy. Speaking of energy, Pete Sweet did a great job onstage as performer and MC, while Maksim and Maka's show was one of the best I've ever seen. The Israeli show was rock solid--gotta get these guys to IJA one of these days. The International Show was Tr'espace, Maksim, Les Petit Travers, Get the Shoe and little ol' me. One act each in both halves of the show. Highlights for me include pulling a 4 box shufflestack and a Machine b633633 on the first try in my 5 ball routine. Lows included sucking in the diabolo and cigar box sections overall, even though I hit the cable hanging over the stage in my 2 diabolo high section and managed to catch it after it spun for a bit. Getting called out for numerous curtain calls and then busting out with a completely spontaneous trick jam for the wild Israeli crowd was unprecedented for me. Hitting a whirlwind in the three ball contest was cool, but watching Ori win it with a FLAWLESS routine was even better. Swimming with Rebecca and her family in the beautiful springs. Finding the cell phone after STRESSING about it was good. Sweeping the gym early in the morning with no one there except for me and the other young lady trying to sweep it. Rain on the third day only. Playing diski with Schani for the first time. What a great game! The renegade shows. The games with Get the Shoe (we shoulda won!). Ron's kindness throughout the entire trip. Ron's sweet apartment in Tel Aviv. Going out to the burger join, playing HLGCB, playing Ready, Set, Number!, and then going for ice cream. Finding out what REAL SECURITY is like at Ben Guerin Airport, with Tr'espace sharing in the interrogation. Finding Segev and his lady at their gate on their way out as well. Scoring a sweet ISDF sweatshirt--my new favorite festival clothing. Basically, everything ROCKED!!!
To view the pictures taken by Mark "Schani" Probst, a kick-ass juggler, diski player and photographer in one, click here
To read a blog review of the festival by a bigger juggling grom than me (Scott Seltzer), click here
To read a blog review of the festival by Schani, click here