Alight Fingers Juggling and Circus Skills Workshops  

Balls To The Baltic - Latvia or Bust



So How Many Times Have You Rehearsed This?

The following morning was the first of our official engagements. We were going to be playing (and I mean that in a suitably childish sense) at the local school for 'problem' kids. We were to start at 10am. Xantern is not a big place, so nothing is that far away and it wouldn’t take too long to get there. Jonathan wanted to get up at 8:30, myself at 9. Not a problem you’d have thought. Except for the fact that we'd both forgotten to put our clocks forward and Germany is an hour ahead.

Fortunately our hosts were more on the ball, and although we had a bit of a rush job we still managed to get there with a little time to spare. I was mildly surprised to find that the school was named after Engelbert Humperdinck, although apparently, the "King of Romance" had actually named himself after a German opera composer. That made slightly more sense. The things you learn.

Now this is probably a good time to point out that although Jonathan and myself had worked together previously, it had been in a teaching capacity, and not putting on any kind of show. We had ten minutes to spare. This seemed like a really good time to work out what we were going to do.

It wasn't as bad as that may sound. Obviously we both had things we could perform, although I was a little concerned as I tend to spend as much time talking and joking about what I'm doing as doing it. Our first audience was a group of German children who didn't really speak English, and my German is restricted to asking names, and giving directions to the hotel, none of which I figured was going to be overly useful.

It turns out Jonathan is a bit of a wizz at the one liner. With Horsh translating where necessary, within a matter of minutes he had them all in stitches. I was introduced as ‘Jonathans Assistant’, which amused me, but Jonathan quickly corrected it.  To be honest, I was taking all my queues from him. It was after all originally his tour. The forty minute show passed as if it was five. We had kids climbing free standing ladders, and doing acrobatics. At least half a dozen of them could already ride unicycles which was pretty impressive. The school owned unicycles which may have had something to do with that. That doesn't tend to happen in Britain. In amongst it all we juggled, I performed more contact juggling which is something I'm starting to really enjoy (‘juggling without letting go’ if that makes any sense) and we played with the six foot unicycle, and walking globe and generally had a really good time.

And at the end we got to learn a new German word. They all shouted "Zugabe" at us. We looked at Horsh, and he explained. "It means ... " and he thought for a second for the translation, looking as if he was struggling with it. It could be that he wasn’t sure if it was the French or English word.  ".... encore". Our first European engagement was a storming success. Of course, he could have been lying through his teeth, it could have meant anything, but that was good enough for us, and with big smiles we went out to do it again.

Then it was time for breakfast. I stuffed in a bit of chocolate earlier to make sure I had some calories to burn, but I needed some real food, not to mention, a little more caffeine. I probably didn't need that at all as there's always a bit of adrenalin kicking around in the system when doing these things, but heh, we all have our addictions. One of the local press reporters came in to talk to us while we had breakfast so we fielded questions on what we were up to and why.

"Well, we’re going to be working with disadvantaged children, here and in Latvia" Jonathan answered.

It always troubled me when he used the W word.

I thought I was just there to throw things at people and occasionally teach them to juggle. It was a bit of a shock.

Then we did another show for the older children in the school. That was a little easier as they spoke more English, and a lot of the time they were laughing before the jokes and silly comments got translated. More to the point, now we could claim to have rehearsed the show at least once.

They were also a bunch of one wheeled wonders. Anyone would think that they'd been practicing. Jonathan explained that practicing was cheating, and that was the only reason the Germans won penalty shoot outs. That didn’t so much go down like a lead balloon, as sail like a Waddle shot high over the bar into the stands. Once again at the end of the show, they shouted "Zugabe", and this time, they were bigger, and could make more noise.

After that show we were talking to the local press again. We were big news in Xantern it turns out, although I'm guessing the second reporter was just walking past the school and popped in to find out what all the noise was. I suppose it's not everyday that a pair of idiots decide to drive all from the England to Latvia and stop off in your local schools for the fun of it.



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