Once upon a time Camvention was a regular date in the UK juggling calendar but way back in 2000 this beautiful event closed its doors for potentially the last time *sad face*.
But that didn’t stop Cambridge’s circus scene from growing and growing and becoming one of the most vibrant and thriving in the UK today. With such a flourishing community, both at the University and at the Cambridge Community Circus, it was inevitable that sooner or later some super-awesome-amazing people would step up to the plate and resurrect this lost gem of a convention… and that’s exactly what happened *happy face*. Katie took the helm and with Brook, taking charge of workshops, Ceri-Anne on promotion and much more besides and Tom, curating and coordinating the show, as her trustworthy lieutenants.
Jugglers are surprisingly early birds and the decent sized hall at Cambridge Regional College was filled with jugglers, spinners and manipulators almost from the word go. The facilities there were excellent and included a bar and great value café/restaurant as well as the hall and additional workshop area.
For a one-day convention there was a healthy workshop timetable which included some superstars such as Ceri-Anne teaching her trademark pull-the-string diabolo tricks, Keith Marshall dishing out cutting edge poi tricks direct from his brain and Sadie and Alan teaching ball passing patterns. Other workshops included three-ball juggling, hats, contact staff, hula hoop, club passing, club manipulation and tips for winning gladiators.
With a workshop area all to themselves, Lazy Juggler ran workshops on several different board games throughout the day and finished with an Elk-Fest (Wet Elk) tournament.
A change of venue was required for the evening’s show but ample time was left to grab a bite to eat and head down to the Centre at St. Paul’s. The church the show was held in made for a beautiful setting but it did feel odd buying super-cheap (thanks Ben) cans of lager from the pop-up bar there!
The show was of an excellent standard throughout and featured a great range of props, styles and generations of circus artists. All the acts were seamlessly glued together by the compere Eddie Konig, who hasn’t changed a bit since the last Camvention *winking face*.
The show featured Rory Clarke busting out some trials unicycle tricks with help from his several beautiful assistants. Abi Cooper flirted and fell in love with her hula hoop on stage in her wonderful character-rich act. Just as full of character but much more disturbing were Dave Stone and his hilarious ball juggling act. Dave’s act was a “tribute” to circus school acts and featured a far-too-tight leotard and a pink tutu (mainly included to maintain public decency).
Sadie and Alan also showed off their ball-juggling skills but in a much cuter fashion. Their act centred around ball passing patterns that were both complex and innovative and their slightly clown-like characters were immediately endearing. What’s more they nailed the big finale trick they almost left out of their set.
Keith Marshall showcased some modern one-, two- and three- poi manipulation techniques in his act. He definitely didn’t do any Supermans but he did finish by flashing four poi, something only a handful of spinners in the world can do. Chazz performed the same tired old contact staff routine we’ve all seen several times but Luke Hallgarten’s club juggling act was much more refreshing. Luke is a rising star currently training at Circus Space. His act contained many modern technical tricks including tapping variations as well as big three- and five-club tricks.
Headlining the show and firmly in the old-skool was Shaun Clarke. His highly amusing act featured clowning, devilsticks, hat manipulation and cigar boxes and was a great way to end the show.
But I’m not ending the review of the show with Shaun though because, for me, the stand out act was 14-year-old Ronnie Slowinski. Ronnie may have been a veteran of this year’s BYJoTY but that didn’t stop him feeling a few butterflys before the show. He needn’t have worried though as he absolutely smashed it! After a few two-diabolo tricks, as if they weren’t hard enough, Ronnie busted out some insane three-D tricks including juggling them in a reverse cascade pattern. Not content with performing tricks most of the best adult diabololists couldn’t do five-years ago he finished with something that was impossible (or at least nearly) five years ago. Running four diabolos low Ronnie finished his act with a mental 4D trick that is way beyond my comprehension *amazed face*. This young man is going to go far!
Camvention was a massive success; it totally sold-out and ticked all the right boxes. We can only hope that there isn’t a 13 year wait until the next one…
Here's a video of this year's convention (no show footage unfortunately):