I want to glide and be lithe and graceful; I want to be a street performer and create the most natural yet unnatural movements in the world.
A man stands on another man’s head and they both start juggling. Surely the man balancing on top of his friend’s head would tumble to the pavement after a single, minute movement. But no, they continue juggling and wiggling as though their bodies were looped together by a single piece of invisible string. The longer they perform, the higher the balls fly in the air and are caught with razor fast precision, and the bigger the crowd grows around them.
Look into my magic ball!
The best time to visit South Bank is in the summer when the sun is shining, and you’re guaranteed to see a wide variety of different acts. Some of the world’s best street performers flock to London in the summer to show off their tricks in South Bank – they make the impossible possible. But most street performers move so effortlessly that we often forget years of dedication have gone into their performance. I tried my hand at contact juggling once, but after an hour of perpetually dropping the ball on my feet I put my toes out of their misery, and let my resumé of cool party tricks hopelessly dwindle away.
However, my cousin, Marlene, is a street performer in South Bank, she’s one of the few contact jugglers captivating crowds with ‘glass’ balls that look to seemingly float, and glide along the body. Contact juggling is still a relatively unknown performance act compared to fire eaters, street musicians and acrobats but it was bought to mainstream attention in David Bowie’s film Labyrinth in 1986.
Marlene gathers a crowd as she performs her contact juggling
All street performers glide and recycle their energy so that every movement looks new and exciting. And what I love most about street performers is that every movement made is deliberate and purposeful, like they have stepped inside a circle that is aligned with the contours of the Universe. In a simpler way, I think that is what travelling is about too… trying to find the long and beautiful whispers of the World’s contours.
Marlene’s friend, Nico, who is one of the best contact jugglers in the world!
And a visit to South Bank doesn’t end after it’s street performers – once here you can walk along the River Thames, cross the Golden Jubilee Bridges, head to the The Tate Modern and fill yourself with delicious food at Borough Market. South Bank really is a cultural hotspot not to be missed!
With Marlene on the Hungerford/ Golden Jubilee Bridge which goes across South Bank.
In South Bank you are also very close to the London Eye, so why not head over and see London from a bird’s eye perspective?
This is called a Cyr Wheel, and the performer incorporates his acrobatic movements inside and out of the wheel!
Mr Charlie Chaplin
Despite popular belief the glass or crystal ball is actually made of acrylic resin. I hope that doesn’t take away some of its allure!