You might notice that the acts I mention here are either contemporary or juggling, the two ways I know to understand circus. These acts were among the least decorated by the jury in the end. The Grand Prize was awarded to the Russian bar act of Igor Stynka, Raman Kavalchuk, and Roman Malykhin, a group of clowns who try to get revenge on a bird that defecates on one of the porters. They accomplished this through a series of pantomimes that represented swimming, walking on the moon, and flying in an airplane, as well as jumping and turning saltos on the Russian bar. Ina Sopova and Kristaps Pavlovs were awarded a medal for their quick-change act, and Anastasiya Yeukhimenka won several awards for her hula hoop act on horseback. Ivan Romanov and Tatiana Romanova also won a medal for their acrobatic diabolo act, in which Tatiana throws her diabolo high, gets piched into a backflip, lands on Ivan’s shoulders, and catches the diabolo. She then threw the diabolo high again, turned a front tuck, and landed back on his shoulders, catching the diabolo. A very clean act.
Comparing these numbers to those that do well at other circus festivals, or those that seem to have success in the US, a few best practices come to mind. If you’re considering applying to Riga next year, perhaps these notes will help you fashion an award-winning routine:
- More is more! Show more skin, have more sequins, have more grandiose movements.
- If you’re a juggler and want to do well, you have to flash eight rings.
- You should use music, and that music should have a loud bassline that’s easy to clap along.
- Hold your applause points for longer than you might otherwise.
- Though you’re in a ring, don’t worry about addressing all corners of the audience. It seemed strange to me, too, but most acts only played towards the judge’s box.
- Whatever you do, fill the space!
I am grateful for this opportunity, and I hope my experience helps other performers know what to expect.