How did you start juggling?
Juggling brings a big metamorphose in my life. After university, I became a computer programer. I was a fat guy with glasses, long hair, doing no sports, and have no clue what to do with my life. I known only one thing, what I don’t want to be, an informatician. I was watching the monitor 12-14 hours of the day, not moving my body, don’t meet with people, don’t see the sun. I felt it is not a real life, so I quit and started to travel with open eyes. First I became a street singer with my guitar, travel in Europe and India. One day I went into a party and see a firejuggler first time in my life. The next day somebody give a devilstick in my hand, but I didn’t know how to play, so I failed, and give it back, says-it is not my toy. Next week a friend show it how it works and I start again with more patience and knowledge. I didn’t put down for 6-8 hours, and the next day I was allready playing with it. After there was no stop, it became my passion and profession, and part of my life.
When did you start making juggling props?
It was coming together. When my friend show how to play, the next day he bring away his stick. So I went into my workshop and make one. The next days I made some to my friends too. A week after it has broke, so I took my father‘s old fishing stick, cut it, and made the first fiberglass flowerstick, as I call KickStick.
To making better and better juggling equipments is became my other passion. As a professional fireperformer I know very well what makes a good fitetoy, so the two job is helps a lot to each other. I had a basic engineer knowledge, a workshop, patience and time. I tried all kind of materials, technology, and made thousands of prototypes. I learned a lot step by step by this work, so nowdays I have the 10 year developing experience. I found fascinatiog this job to feel the materials, to know the phisical rules. To construct a good weighted, durable firegear is a challenging engineer work.
You also invent some new juggling toys, is that right?
I made lots of innovative toys,like firehandsticks for devilstick players, staffs with magnetic cross connection, new technologie for firediabolo, fire juggling hat, but the most famous tool is the Dragon Staff, what is a special contact staff with a fabulous effect. The feicha- an ancient marital art weapon- is very similar to this tool. This things I created, but I belive there are no new things in this world. Lot of people thinks the same, but there are only few who makes their ideas.
What is the meaning of juggling for you?
It is also nice to give joy, to entertain the people. They forget their problems, leave their thoughts behind, just watching amused or laughing on a joke, they became in the present. The other important what juggling can gives is the teaching. I made lots of workshops for children. It is not need to make them professional, it is nice to give a hobby for them to train their body and mind with the language of game. However the biggest teaching is : nothing is impossible. If you put energie and time into something you will be able to do. To learn juggling is a good proof of it, what I couldn’t do an hour before I can do now, and of course it is right for everything.
It makes me happy to give to the people, to have the joy of movement, to reach my borders and feel connected with other people who are similar to me.
For me it brings me an other state of mind, an other level of consciousness, and bring allways new challenge.
What is your favorite juggling toy?
I tried all kind of juggling, and learned everything in a basic level to teach children. It is allways changing the „favorite“, sometimes I play more with contact balls, sometimes with contact staff, clubs are allways around me, altough I started with flowersticks. I love to perform with Dragon Staff, but nowdays I do more ropewalking too. Iam not motivated to perform with rope, it is more like an active meditation for me. When iam in the rope, my mind get cleared. No thinking about past and future, just the balance.
What performance you work on?
The show we performed at the EJC in Joensuu is called Swing Begins, together with Sophie Zoletnik and Cecilia Nagy. We created especially for the EJC Fire Gala, to put together all our best knowledge and skills, use some nice special effect and new props and a little magic.
My friend Antti Suniala invite me, and it was a honor and pleasure to perform in that gala with the „cream“ of the firejuggling scene. All show was very hight level and professional act, but all was totally different too. It was a huge open air theatrum, fullhouse with 4000 people, and they liked it very much. The main goal of that gala was to proof to the juggling scene, that playing with fire is not just the hobby of teenagers what they do in the garden, but it has a place in the circus art.
Are you planning some new performance?
Iam working on a new solo act with contact balls and cooperate with a VJ, who project the little happenings in a big screen behind me, with nice effects. I think it is very important for contact ball if the audience is more than 10 meter far.
Another project is a big street theatre show with 10 artist with huge installations and visual effects. The title is Prometheus- Do the androids dream about electric sheeps?
It is a new circus act, fusion of street theater, firedance, juggling and visual art. The story is based on the parallelling of Philip K. Dick novel and the legend of Prometheus what is known by everybody in the European cultural area. The premier of this scene was in a greek theater in the active vulcano island called Stromboli at the FESTA DEL FUOCO Di Stromboli.
I perform together with my friends in the group called Firebirds what we found 10 years before. Since then we made about 2000 performances in the world, mainly in Europe, but have some shows in Asia, Middle East , Africa and USA as well. We share our life and travel a lot together. Altough we are trained professional performers, everybody has other job too, like architect, leather worker, healer, pyrotechnician, history teacher, hadcrafts, informatician. It is like a tribe, with lots of friends who has the same passion. We have two camp in the year, in spring and one in authum. That time the most of the Firebirds get together.
What was the most memorable show you done?
One time we were hired by the state of Hungary for a national celebration, and we made a show in the top of the Chain Bridge, above the Danube – what is the simbole of Budapest.
We also performed for the Emir of Quatar and his family, and play in the gala of the cricket world championship. It was also a pleasure to perform in the Burning Man festival. There were interesting surroundings, but the most fascinating jobs was to work for big theaters. I have been hired several time to be the director of stunt and circus arts for big scenes. Most of the time they ask me one month before the premier, and it is a real challenge to find out what would fit in the story, how to make it, with who, be secure and spectacular. One time they ask me a human torch effect, what is the full body burning. I looked after all technic and made an innovation, I created a jacket what is possible to set on fire thousand times. When it was used on stage, there were only one person safe around, the one who was set on fire.
Can you give some advice for the ones who wan to make their own firegear by themselves?
I understand the people who makes their instrument, I also do. They have to prepare that it will takes lots of time, costs more money and not as safe what they can buy . Who want to spare the time, money and want a toy what has the experience of thousand other, they shoud by from an expert. Of course if you make it for yourself it will be like what you like, the size, the fire, the weight, it will be more suitable for your own needs. This why I offer a customized order surface in my website.
If you make your own toys, think about secure first. It means also the secure of the audience, and your secure. The chains, rings, swivels has to be 150% enough strong. Use welded chain, double rings if it is needed, all part have to be stronger what is possible to break with hands. There shouldn’t be metal parts around the fire, what can burn your skin if you touch it, and never create a fire costume or toy, what is fixed to your body and you cannot take off quickly. I have the biggest injury because of that.
Can you tell this story?
I have special firegear, called Phoenix Wings, what is a gloves, fixed 8 long kevlar ropes into the fingers. It is a huge fire effect, the audience are love it, and nice feeling also to do. I done thousand times, but one time there was some little mistakes comes together, what made the trouble. The glove has set fire on the stage, while i was performing. I come down from the stage and I wanted to kill the fire alone, what was no possible. My right hand and arm burned totally, it was needed plastic surgery and it was a miraculus healing that was not needed to amputate some fingers.
The first mistake was the construction and the sorage the instrument. It was made of strong leather, what is heatproof until it doesn’t took the paraffin. The gloves was store together with the ropes, so had the chance to get some paraffin after a while.
If you create some crazy effect, allways prepare for all kind of possibility. If you see so little chance it doesn’t matter, you have to have safety plan and practice it. You need to have responsible person for firesafety. It can be your performer mate who is not on the stage, but one person need to be aware all fire on the stage all time, and get ready for intervention immediatelly if it is needed.
Many people ask after, do you still play with fire? Of course! I don’t blame the fire for the things what happened, I can blame just myself, but the best mentality is to learn from the mistakes and do it better. To play with fire is a great fun, but always be aware and don’t forget, fire is dangerous. He is a good slave but the worse ruler.
Lucignolo /Paolo Mele/