Expect a packed boardwalk, flying footballs, juggling, mimes, juggling mimes, living statues and requests for volunteers August 2-12 for the 26th Halifax International Busker Festival. Whether your memories of festivals past include being charmed by the various accents or well-defined muscles of bicycle acrobats, or not knowing where to stare while someone plays a saxophone solo in your face, this year, forgo the socks and sandals in case you’re met with Miss Australia 1963, who promises “Louis Vuitton glamour” paired with “award winning handbag twirling and also a sassy catwalk” while possibly calling out questionable fashion sense. Last year’s people’s choice winner Victor Rubliar is returning (he won the people’s choice award in every busker festival he participated in last year, for the record), bringing with him dance and football tricks combined in a high energy performance. We spoke with the busker closest to your heart while he was on a break in Victoria.
Q: You've been to Halifax for the Busker Festival a number of times, and you were people's choice winner last year, what do you believe makes you stand out from the crowd?
A: I think it has to do with the fact that I truly love performing for Haligonians. I have fallen in love with this city the first time I came here and I do really wait the whole year to come back.
Q: What first drew you into busking and the performing arts?
A: That is kind of interesting. I used to be rather shy. Not in my real life but I never even thought about being in front of an audience. I wanted to be an architect or an engineer. It was by chance that I learned a few magic tricks and when I started showing them to friends it was like some kind of revelation for me. I realized then that I wanted to be a performer. I knew exactly what I anted to do with my life and I have been doing it since then.
Q: Do you have any advice for young people who are looking to get into juggling, comedy or busking?
A: Train. It is important to get a good level of skills and specially to master them to a point that you don't have to think about the trick when you do it. Then you can start thinking about what you're saying while doing the trick, how does your face look then and so on.
Also, do not be afraid of failing. We all do. The important thing is to just keep on going. Try to keep on developing and remember: Your show may not be that good the first 100 shows. After a 100 shows it may start being better and probably after a 1000 shows you will get a decent show. If not, just keep on trying!
Q: Do you have any new routines that you'll be pulling out this year?
A: I have a new act that I have been training for the last six months. I am actually the only one in the world that can do it. I escape from a straitjacket while I do a one soccer ball routine. It has been a long process to learn this routine. Hundreds of hours of training. But after all the work it is starting to look very good. I have also modified another act in the show. It is an act where I dance and it has a little twist in the end. I have worked with a choreographer to make the changes and rented a dance studio for four months to get everything ready. I really hope the Haligonians like it.
Q: How much of your show is about connecting with your audience?
A: I really believe it is all about that. I always say that what I do is not a show but a party on stage. I lead the party but we must make it all together. It is not about the tricks so much as it is about the connection, the friendship that one creates with the audience.