Buskers festival back with a world-class line-up

GAKU The Juggling Drummer. Photo: Supplied
GAKU The Juggling Drummer. Photo: Supplied
GAKU impressed judges in Australia and Spain before a live audience - and now Christchurch festival-goers can decide whether the juggling drummer has talent.

The Japanese performer is among first-time international acts performing at the 31st edition of the Bread and Circus World Buskers Festival, which opens at a range of inner-city venues tomorrow.

Billed as the world’s only juggling drum busker, GAKU’s fusion of dexterity and percussion gained even more prominence when he was an entrant in Australia’s Got Talent in 2022 and then the Spanish equivalent last year.

GAKU, who has more than four million followers on TikTok, is joined by an American contortionist, a British trick cyclist, a two-man South American “freak show” and a dapper South Korean, who harks back to the halcyon days of Music Hall, in the contingent of overseas-based entertainers making their Christchurch debuts.

The Estupida Compania - Indomitable duo Jeremias Medina Montero (left) and Martin Alarcon Haro...
The Estupida Compania - Indomitable duo Jeremias Medina Montero (left) and Martin Alarcon Haro from South America. Photo: Supplied
Pint-sized contortionist Leah Orleans, her skills honed by coaches at Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus and Cirque du Soleil, brings her Tiny Big Girl! Show, a captivating blend of flexibility, acrobatics and clowning from Chicago.

A performer for 15 years, following a family tradition, Orleans strives to combine classical technique with modern humour.

Leah Orleans - Tiny Big Girl! PHOTO: AMANDA TIPTON
Leah Orleans - Tiny Big Girl! PHOTO: AMANDA TIPTON
Hilarity also underpins Wire Attire, the stunt unicyclist Sam Goodburn, a Brit whose biscuit-themed and balance on a tight wire has transported him from the famed Edinburgh Fringe Festival to Japanese schools and a Central American orphanage in Nicaragua.

Sam Goodburn - Wire Attire. Photo: Supplied
Sam Goodburn - Wire Attire. Photo: Supplied
Further south, street performers from Argentina and Uruguay combine to flaunt their knife-throwing, whip-cracking and walking over broken glass skills through Estupida Compania – Indomitable, which unsurprisingly translates to Stupid Company.

Jeremias Medina Montero (Argentina) and Martin Alarcon Haro (Uruguay) have been displaying a reckless disregard for personal safety throughout their home continent and Europe since 2016.

While Korean music is often associated with Psy’s Gangnam Style and K-Pop, The Charming JAY (Jisu Park) marches to a different beat, mixing classical magic with elegance, pizzazz and showmanship to take his crowd back to a bygone era.

While there is undeniably an exotic flavour to the 10-day programme, home-grown talent has not been overlooked with local favourites MulletMan & MiM back to highlight their acrobatic, juggling, contortion and foot archery prowess.

Returning overseas acts include Australian Guru Dudu’s silent disco walking tours, where the public who participate are the stars before bemused onlookers.

There are three busking pitches – Hack Circle at the corner of Cashel and High Sts, the Bridge of Remembrance, and the corner of Hereford and Colombo Sts.

Recently-opened hospitality venue, The Church, on Manchester St, also hosts night events for adults this weekend while at the other end of the age spectrum, there is a kids gala at Isaac Theatre Royal during the festival’s closing weekend.

Meanwhile, the most expansive act at the festival has only one human component – the people who venture into Architects of the Air: Arborialis Luminarium, an immersive labyrinth in Cathedral Square.

A global phenomenon for the past 30 years, the UK-based attraction is a 1000sq m

inflatable artwork with tunnels and cavernous domes, a mesmerising sensory-driven experience of colour, light and sound.

• The festival ends on January 28. Details on scheduling and tickets can be found at www.breadandcircus.co.nz