gora krisztian

How did you start juggling?

Juggling brings a big metamorphose in my life. After university, I became a computer programmer. I was a fat guy with glasses, long hair, doing no sports, and have no clue what to do with my life. I knew that the only thing I didn't want to be is an informatician. I was watching the monitor 12-14 hours a day, not moving my body, didn't meet people, didn't see the sun. I felt it is not a real life, so I quitted and started to travel with open eyes. First I became a street singer with my guitar, travelling in Europe and India. One day I went into a party and saw a firejuggler for first time in my life. The next day somebody put a devilstick into my hand, but I didn’t know how to play, so I failed, and gave it back, saying-it is not my toy. Next week a friend showed me how it works and I started again with more patience and knowledge. I didn’t put it down for 6-8 hours, and next day I was already playing with it. After that there was no stop, it became my passion and profession, and part of my life.

When did you start making juggling props?

It came together. When my friend showed how to play, the next day he brought away his stick. So I went into my workshop and made one. The next days I made some to my friends too. A week later it broke, so I took my father‘s old fishing stick, cut it, and made the first fiberglass flowerstick, as I called KickStick.

Making better and better juggling equipments became my other passion. As a professional fireperformer I know very well what makes a good fitetoy, so the two jobs supplement each other.  I had a basic engineer knowledge, a workshop,  patience and time. I tried all kinds of materials, technology, and made thousands of prototypes. I learned a lot step by step by this work, so nowdays I have  a 10 year developing experience. I found fascinating in this job  that I can feel the materials and I have to know the phisical rules.  To construct a good weighted, durable firegear is a challenging engineering 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 amaze and entertain people. They forget their problems, leave their thoughts behind, just watch in amusement or laugh on a joke which they've just heard. The other important thing which juggling gives is teaching. I made lots of workshops for children. It is not necessary to make them professional, it is nice to give a  hobby to them to train their body and mind in the language of game. However the biggest rule is : nothing is impossible. If you put energie and time into something you will be able to do it. A good example for this is juggling; 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 something to people, to have the joy of movement, to reach my borders and feel connected to other people who are similar to me.

For me  it brings another state of mind, another level of consciousness, and brings always 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 always changing which is my „favorite“, sometimes I play more with contact balls, sometimes with contact staff, clubs are always around me, altough I started with flowersticks. I love to perform with Dragon Staff, but nowadays I do more ropewalking too.  I am not motivated to perform with rope, it is more like an active meditation for me. When I am on the rope, my mind gets cleaned. I don't think about past and future, just the balance.

What performance are you working on?

The show we performed at the EJC in Joensuu is called Swing Begins, together with Sophie Zoletnik and Cecilia Nagy. We created it especially for the EJC Fire Gala, to put together all our best knowledge and skills, use some nice special effects and new props and a little magic.

My friend Antti Suniala invited me, and it was an honor and pleasure to perform in that gala with the „cream“ of the firejuggling scene. All shows were very professional and on very high level, but all were 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 a proof to the juggling scene, that playing with fire is not just the hobby of teenagers that they do in the garden, but it has a place in the circus art.

Swing Begins:

Are you planning some new performance?

I'am working on a new solo act with contact balls and cooperating with a VJ, who is projecting the little happenings on a big screen behind me with nice effects. I think it is very important for contact ball if the audience is more than 10 metres further.

Another project is a big street theatre show with 10 artists 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 paralleling 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 on 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 founded 10 years ago. Since then we have made about 2000 performances in the world, mainly in Europe, but have had some shows in Asia, Middle East , Africa and USA as well. We are sharing our life and travelling 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 have the same passion. We have two camps in the year, in spring and one in autumn. These times most of the Firebirds get together.

What was the most memorable show you have ever done?

One time we were hired by the state of Hungary for a national celebration, and we made a show on the top of the Chain Bridge, above the Danube – what is the symbol of Budapest.

We also performed for the Emir of Quatar and his family, and played 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 were to work for big theaters. I have been hired several times to be the director of stunt and circus arts for big scenes. Most of the time they asked 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, how to be secure and spectecular and who to do it with. One time they asked me a human torch effect, what means that the full body is burning. I checked all technics and made an innovation, I created a jacket which 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 want to make their own firegear by themselves?

I understand people who make their instruments, I do the same. They have to be aware that it takes lots of time, costs more money and is not as safe as what they can buy . Who wants to save time, money and wants a toy that has the experience of thousand other, they should 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 is why I offer an order customizing surface in my website. 

If you make your own toys, think about security first. It means also the security of the audience and your own. The chains, rings, swivels has to have 150% strenght. Use welded chain, double rings if it is needed, all parts have to be stronger than that you can break with hands. There shouldn’t be metal parts around the fire, which 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 had the biggest injury because of that.

Can you tell this story?

I have special firegear, called Phoenix Wings, what is a glove, fixed with 8 long kevlar ropes to the fingers. It is a huge fire effect, the audience love it, and it's nice feeling also to do. I've done a thousand times, but one time there were some little mistakes came together, which made the trouble. The glove set fire on the stage, while I was performing. I came down from the stage and I wanted to put the fire out alone, which wasn't possible. My right hand and arm burnt totally, plastic surgery was needed and it was a miracle that some fingers weren't had to amputate.

The first mistake was the construction and the storage of the instruments. It was made of strong leather, which is heatproof until it soaks some paraffin. The gloves were stored together with the ropes, so could it happen to soak some paraffin after a while.

If you create some crazy effects, always prepare for all kinds of possibilities. Even if there's only a little possibility of danger, you have to have safety plan and practice it. You need to have a responsible person for firesafety. It can be your performer mate who is not on the stage, but one person needs to be aware of all fire on the stage all the time, and get ready for intervention immediatelly if it is needed.

Many people have asked since than, do you still play with fire? Of course! I don’t blame the fire for the things what happened, I can blame only myself. 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 of and don’t forget, fire is dangerous. He is a good slave but the worst ruler.

 

Lucignolo   /Paolo Mele/