By Ross Berenson

Well balanced jugglers

Pulling up to an old cathedral that was converted into a circus school is quite a sight. You enter the building and see smiling faces all around. You take a quick walk around to feel the space out and you are already excited. The thrill and the fun of circus is going through your mind. You see some students practicing and already get a glimpse of the high talent level. A ceiling so high up, you can’t even hit it if you tried. Welcome to Turbo Fest at École de Cirque de Québec located in Quebec City, Canada.

The weekend of January 7th, the school hosted one of the best regional in North America. It cost $45 if you pre-registered and $50 at the door. With this price tag you get fun, sleeping space, access to the Saturday night show, and of course access to the schools space. Well worth the price.

There are two large rooms that are open for the public to juggle in. There is one room upstairs and one room downstairs. When both rooms are full, they are larger than some East Coast juggling festivals. The room downstairs is the tumbling room with mats all over the floor. The room doubles as a bedroom where many people set up camp and sleep for the night. Well… nap for the night. No one wants to sleep at this festival because there is so much going on.

Upstairs is the party room. Bright blue ceiling that houses many jugglers. There is a lot of space for everyone to do his or her thing. Up here is where the show is held and where the canteen is. Food and Beverages are sold on site, and they have a nice sized sitting area for everyone to enjoy their meal.

The fact that the festival it is held in such a high energy place adds to the energy greatly. The talent level is extremely high here. This is not your beginner festival. There are some beginner workshops though. Everyone that attends is very welcoming and friendly. You will see groups of people just exchanging tricks and tips.

Friday was the first day of the festival and there was already a high turnout. This was my fourth Turbo Fest and I think this had the largest turnout by far. The music is blasting and people are juggling. It’s a juggling party all weekend. Some people late at night weren’t even juggling and were just dancing. Friday night hosts the Juggle Jam and the Renegade (AKA the late show). You get to see amazing talent demonstrate some new tricks they are working on. The juggle Jam is fun. It’s rapid fire juggling. One person goes up; attempts a trick then someone else comes up and attempts a trick and so forth. This goes on for around 10 minutes. In the past there renegade shows consist of people trying hard tricks and some routines but this year they tried something different. Francis Julien was the host that night. They did a 45min improv. There were two teams of jugglers and Francis gave each team a theme they had to follow. It was fun to watch at first but it went on too long. That’s my opinion though. Many people seemed to enjoy it a lot. To each their own. After the improv, everyone went back into juggling and dancing.

Saturday is when some of the games were played, workshops, the Saturday night show, and thanks to Jason Garfield, Major League Combat. They have the typical games then some of their own. Many people are competitive here so it is fun to watch and to compete. Workshops went on all day. Before the show, the school offers a catered meal for attendees for a low price. Some people take it and others leave the school to eat at a nearby restaurant.

The show is always incredible. They have great talent from the school perform, École Nationale de Cirque, and many guest. This year they flew in the Gandini’s, Matt Hall, and Meghan Pike, Sean Blue, Eric Bates, and more. After the show the staff quickly cleaned up and juggling resumed. Shortly after, a round of Jason Garfield’s Major League Combat began. There were eight teams formed, which made quite the match up. It was the most intense games I have witnessed but I hear Madfest (Madison, Wisconsin) had even more of intense matches. Team Turbo may have to step it up next year! Not only did the competitors enjoy MLC, it also drew up a nice sized crowd. People enjoyed watching because its combat with rules. You see the teams thinking of plans and strategies. People are cheering and getting really into it. The Semi Finals were finished on Sunday because it was already 2am. The day flew by.

Sunday consisted of more games like diabolo high String and Balance Limbo. Games went on for a while. Every winner gets a metal and a prize. The Gandinis did a small surprise show for 20-30 minutes downstairs and you can see the passion they have for juggling. The fest ended at 6:00 and people stayed till the end. Good to the last drop (no pun intended).

Being around all the students is great. It’s a younger crowd than the average East Coast Festival. The talent is inspiring. The energy level is motivating. You just want to juggle and meet jugglers. It’s awesome. I look forward to next year’s festival the day the current festival ends. This festival wouldn’t happen if it weren’t for the Turbo Crew! Thanks! Turbo 6 is January 6th, 2012. Get planning!

Below, watch highlights from this year’s festival!

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