x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

It’s all up in the air for Baldrian, the world’s slowest juggler

Part of Swiss Days Dubai this weekend is a performance by Baldrian, the world's slowest clown, who says taking it slow greatly improves the quality of life.

Thomas Leuenberger aka Baldrian, who is the world's slowest juggler. Courtesy Baldrian
Thomas Leuenberger aka Baldrian, who is the world's slowest juggler. Courtesy Baldrian

Not the fast show

The one who lives slowly, dies later: that’s the motto of the Swiss clown Thomas Leuenberger, who calls himself the world’s slowest juggler. Going by the stage name Baldrian, Leuenberger will perform at Swiss Days Dubai at Ductac, Mall of the Emirates, on Friday.

“My shows are relaxing yet expressive,” he says. “The ultimate goal is to reduce the pulse of the audience. My show is recommended for everybody who needs a little relaxation. In slowness lies quality, quality of life, quality to live.”

Slow and steady

Leuenberger took up juggling 30 years ago and says it all began when he began playing with a few stones on a holiday. Rapidly tossing objects into the air wasn’t enough; he wanted to “create an act that would delay the effect of gravity”.

“The Swiss are comfortable people; also I’m not the fastest. This is very convenient for me,” he says. “It is a decelerated pace. You will see me juggling with 14 objects and without stress.”

The performer uses balloons filled with helium, which helps them resist the pull of gravity.

“I show that going slow can be spectacular and, at the same time, healthy,” he says.

“I begin with ordinary juggling balls and indoor kites. One of my props is a 14-metre helium-filled snake. Helium helps with the deceleration and the audience can actively experience this when I make the snake fly over their heads in the theatre.”

Swiss legend

Leuenberger has received several awards, including the prestigious Swiss performance award, the Prix Walo, in the comedy category in 2000, when he was performing as one half of Duo Flügzüg.

He has also won the Silver Lion at the International Circus Festival in Lausanne and first place at the International Cabaret Festival in Koblenz, Germany.

“I have played solo on stage for four years and I do everything myself now,” he says. “I build my own props, develop new acts and songs, and also handle the back office.”

Easier said than done

What might look simple, he says, requires a lot of practice and a little bit of luck. “It takes enthusiasm and perseverance. At first it was a hobby, but I continued to teach myself.”

Baldrian has done more than 2,000 shows and is looking forward to his Dubai performance.

“My highlights were several television appearances and the colourful circus life in the Swiss National Circus Knie, the Christmas Circus Salto Natale and Circus Roncalli in Germany,” says Leuenberger. “I think a highlight about my Dubai show is that it will be in English.”

• Baldrian will perform on Friday at Centrepoint Theatre, Ductac, Mall of the Emirates, at 8pm. For tickets, visit www.swissartgateuae.com

aahmed@thenational.ae