When I applied to the Cirkokrog ESC I wasn’t really looking too much into learning juggling, or anything circus related for that matter. I just needed some time far from home. When I arrived there I was really tired. I just had the second dose of vaccine the prior evening, and my body didn’t like it much. I texted the coordinator to signal my arrival. I got back an SMS from someone called Mojca: “7 minutes and I’ll be there”. 7 minutes huh… oddly specific. After waiting a while, Mojca came to get me in a bicycle. I was really tired, and probably sick. The moment I got to the house though, everyone was waiting for me, with a big and warm dinner. I immediately realized I felt relaxed and serene. Everyone was happy and eager to meet me. I didn’t thank them much at that time, but I was very thankful for that moment. I don’t know, but I suspect Mojca was behind all that. She was one of the trainers, and among the most positive, energetic and sunny people I ever met. Every time I felt down for any reason, seeing her talking and active was enough to cheer me up. Many times I could count on her to make me feel happy to be there, especially considering how moody I can be sometimes. When I try to remember Mojca, I always see her with a giant and colorful smile. That can speak for itself. She’s amazing.
The next day, we got to the main square where we would then spend most of our work time: Tabor. It’s a cute little park square. Luckily it always had sun spots and shadow spots, which was ideal, since we were in the middle of season-changing. After some quick warm up, we started practicing. I was clearly behind all of the other participants. Most of them were practicing circus activity for years. That’s when I set my mind: I had to practice A LOT. There I properly met Oton, another trainer. He is resourceful, careful and very focused. When he noticed me, he introduced himself and gave me two of his clubs. He then proceeded to spend all of the afternoon (and part of the evening) focusing only on me to make sure I would get the basis I needed to learn properly. If it weren’t for Oton and that moment, I’m not sure I would be able to even understand how to juggle right now. He was the one who sparked in me my interest in circus activity, which I still have to this day. That is why I spent most of my free time in the whole month there practicing, to then get to him every time to show my progress and get corrected. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. Our goal was to make up a festival after all!
Juggling was important, but there was a lot more needed to be done. We performed some street theatre to see how people in the city would react. We made a bunch of colorful and energetic parades to make the event as known as possible. We spent a lot of time making props, deciding how to organize the event, and much more. I’m checking right now the pictures I made there just to be sure I’m not missing anything too important, and damn I feel such huge nostalgia of the city, the trainers and the other volunteers! The house I lived in was simply incredible. Very colorful and charismatic. With me were living some other Cirkokrog volunteers and another amazing guy. Very warm, very skilled. I kept contact with him. We had a cozy balcony and music was king there. In the morning we could hear the practice of all the students from the music school which was in front of the house. In the night, rock concerts could be heard from the park 100 meters from us.
Talking about the participants is a big task. Not only they were many, but all of them would shine for different reasons. Some were extremely nice. Some very skilled in some sector. Some incredibly hilarious and adventure companions. If I have any regret of this project, is the fact that I wasn’t able to stay in contact with as much of them as I would like to. I can barely manage to talk with two of them from time to time at this point, and I really regret that. Even more, it’s thanks to them I refined more and more juggling and discovered all the other amazing circus activities people were expert of (staff, slackline, diablo, hoola hop, balls and much, much more).
The city is beautiful. It has been nominated the greenest city of Europe at some point for a reason. It’s really, really green. There are many giant parks. Most of the pictures I took there could be easily made into postcards. There’s a system you can use to move through the city with an extremely cheap price (3€ per year if I recall correctly). The bike system has some flaws, but I’m really glad it was there. It made moving through the city way comfier. The climate was pretty warm, but that’s what I am used to in my country as well, so I don’t complain, even though I can understand if some people living in colder places do. The modern art in the city was great as well. Metalkova is an example, and the Nextival event at Bob park can be another one. I really love street art, and Ljubljana gave me even more satisfaction for that.
I’m still scrolling through the pictures. I always take many of them because I forget stuff easily, and that makes me afraid. Now that I’m looking at them, I feel like it has been too good to be true. Did it really happen? Was it really that good? If I want to write down a proper critique, I would like to highlight the flaws as well, but it’s really difficult to remember any. If there’s anything I would complain about (and I did there as well) was that some participants would stick too much to their native language instead of English, excluding the other people in the process, but that’s not much the project’s fault. Actually, I think the trainers did their best to prevent it. The people invited there as participants were from many different countries, and no two participants were from the same country, with two exceptions. The first exception was the locals, which just couldn’t be avoided, and the second exception was me, because another Italian was there as well, but that was not a problem. Not only me and the other Italian would always stick to English, but we were living in separate houses, so that problem was addressed as well.
So, what did I learn from the project? A lot. I’ll get rid of the obvious first. I learned a lot more about circus, its beauty, and some of the skills associated to it. I learned how to practice more to develop further as a circus artist. I learned about new cultures. Slovenian youngsters don’t give much weight about the following, but many old locals see Italians as invaders and enemies. I studied history and I know what happened during (and after) the two world wars, but I never felt the weight, and now I do. I think that’s important. I worked as well with many people from eastern countries. Their culture is WAY different than mine, and even though I really struggle to understand their mentality, I can understand there are many people with such. Most of all, I learned how to breathe. Many times, while practicing juggling (or other stuff) there, I would get way too focused on the task, not realizing the mistakes I was making. That’s when many times, trainers and participants would snap me back to reality and tell me “Remember to breathe”. I processed a lot this lesson. Now I can more easily snap back from anxiety and overthinking by remembering their smiling and serene faces, telling me to breathe. My life has gotten much more doable thanks to this last lesson.
Would I do it again? If I were to get back in time, I wouldn’t think it twice. Maybe I would pack a swimsuit. We visited some rivers and I was the only one who didn’t take a bath, but now I think I would have liked to share that memory with them as well. If I wouldn’t be able to get back in time (which is my situation right now) and they would tell me to get back there, again, I would say yes very easily.
Now that I’m back home I’m not practicing as much as I would like to. I guess my life caught up to me again, and I really don’t like to practice if the weather is not nice enough. Then again, I don’t like to do it if I’m alone, but I really wish to do it more and more. If there’s anything I can do to thank the people from this project, is to carry the circus legacy to my city and spread it as much as I can, and practicing is the first step needed to do that, so it’s really important. Even more, the trainers supported me way after the project ended, asking me if I needed any guidance for practicing here.
I’m an anxious person. I’m really afraid for the future, but thanks to this project, I don’t have to worry for the past. It’s in a safe place, and I will keep it dear to my heart. Thank you all, and I really hope to see all of you soon! Happy Cerada! Aidè!