Sunday, October 21 , 2018, 12:45 pm | Fair 72º


Robert Bernstein: Flying Karamazov Brothers Bring Their Zany Act to UCSB

The Flying Karamazov Brothers performed Sunday at UCSB as I have seen them perform now for about 35 years — with joy, creativity and precision.

I first saw them as street performers in San Francisco in the late 1970s and they were already world famous for good reason.

As an amateur circus performer myself, I can appreciate the amazing precision of their juggling. They can have 12 objects moving among themselves in perfect synchrony. No easy feat.

But that is not what brings the crowds. It is the way they always have a fresh angle that keeps people coming. They combine juggling with music in a variety of ways. Sometimes they use the juggled objects to make music, as when they held out drums and tambourines to be struck while juggling.

They will juggle in the dark with glowing props.

And of course they engage the crowd in a variety of ways.

They play the fool well in the traditional sense: While pretending to be doing slapstick and playing to the children, they also convey little social and political messages about the environment, social justice and war and peace. No one escapes their mocking.

One part of their performance stays fairly constant: The buildup of a list of "Terror Objects" that accumulate on stage. Things that are dangerous like cleavers and hatchets and torches. Objects that are fragile like eggs and musical instruments. And objects that are just unlikely or unwieldy.

And another perennial favorite: Soliciting objects from the audience that they will have to juggle. The items have to follow certain limits and the jugglers are allowed to make small modifications. But the actual items are always a surprise and the stakes are high — a pie in the face if the juggler fails.

At this performance, the juggler succeeded and the price for the audience was to give a standing ovation for his success.

Click here for my photos, which can only begin to capture the joy, skill and creativity of the performance. Really, you have to be there fully to appreciate it!

Watch for their next appearance. They will be back.

Robert Bernstein is a local photographer and frequent Noozhawk contributor. The opinions expressed are his own.

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