Florent Lestage impressed us with his dance moves and playful body positions. We hope that in his new troupe the devilsticks will also get a role again.
Name: Florent Lestage
Place of living: Brussels
Your school: I learned for 5 years in professional circus schools, a year in the Et vous trouvez ça drôle ('And you think it's funny') in Lomme, a year in Balthazar in Montpellier, and three in The National Circus School of Montreal.
How many years have you been juggling with devilsticks?
I played the devilstick between the age of 12 and 22.
Number of devilsticks you have: I have 37 devilsticks, 3 different types.
Your juggling achievements (prize / performance / trick that you are proud of / etc.):
I worked for the Compagnie Tete d'Enfant (’Child Head Company’).
Silver Medal and Audience Award at the World Circus Festival of Tomorrow
I've been on tour for three years with the show Psy of 7 doigts de la main (’The 7 Fingers of the Hand’).
What other juggling equipments do you play with?
Nowadays I almost never play the devilsticks. I usually present my new number with a cane and clubs but my skills of juggling devisticks were very useful during the experiments.
Are you member of any team/group/club/association?
I'm not a member of any juggling club. I'm a juggler but mainly a circus performer and i love all disciplines of this art, juggling to acrobatics through clowning. I travel around the world to play in shows, festivals, love and share, meet people through my art.
Why did you choose devilstick amongst all the other juggling tools?
I started to use the devilstick because I thought that this is a branch of juggling with a lot more to explore, invent, create.
Where did you first meet with devilsticks?
I started playing the devilstick in a circus school called Regarde en haut (’Look up’) in the South of France, and I turned fully toward it when another devilstick juggler arrived at the circus school. From that day on, every week we showed each other our discoveries and ideas and we set various challenges for each other.
Which trick did you find the most difficult to learn?
The double devilsticks - not the double propeller spins but when the sticks move parallel - took the longest to learn. Especially because at that time I didn't meet anyone who knew these moves and I did not know how to start.
In what style do you play and what other styles do you like?
My style is mainly based on a variety of hook moves when I block the baton between the wrist and the handstick. From there I did a lot of research on how to move and change positions in space. My goal is to incorporate juggling into a movement, the weight of the stick affects my moves and creates drawings in space. I'm no longer practicing the devilstick so I have no technical goals but I appreciate those variations of 'fish' which are slow and when the body movement also plays a role in the design.
What do you do on a normal day, how many hours do you practice?
I don't have a permanent schedule but when I'm on tour, I arrive three hours earlier than the show starts, warm up, do some stretchings, do balances on hand for an hour, then I juggle for an hour. I start with the basic club movements, then I practice my personal tricks, then I exercise with the cane for half an hour - I catch the clubs by the curved end of the cane, it's my specialty, I've been developing it for five years. When I have time I love to just juggle somewhere and improvise for the music which inspires me in various ways, depending on the mood I am.
My goal is to create something organic, where the body is involved in the movement and in the trajectories of the objects are as clear as possible to create lines in space, and to play with the positions of my body, the juggling rhythm, the music which determines my improvisation and the style of movements.
Do you teach juggling?
I taught on juggling conventions several times but never on a regular basis, I do not have time because of my work.
How is juggling life there? Are devilsticks popular?
I lived in Quebec for years where juggling is more developed as a sport. There I met no one with whom I could have exchanged experiences of devilsticking which surely would have pushed me to new horizons and would have helped me to get new stimulus continuously.
I always found it difficult that there were just a few people who played the devilstick and suddenly it was hard to find new challenges, new stimulation other than technical ones. The high technical skills have never really attracted me and it is still the case. I like racing but I want to have fun when I juggle.
Tell us a funny story related with devilsticks.
I went to the audition to the circus school in Montreal and I traveled through the United States.The customs officials believed that my devilsticks were martial weapons and forced me to leave them there, so I had to use other batons than mine on the audition.
What is your goal related with juggling? What is a challenge for you?
Right now I'm working on the foundation of my own troupe, I'm focused on directing, I'm working on a new number with several canes and clubs, I'm practicing balances, acrobatics and clowning to be able to create a show in which I can fully express myself and take the audience to an artistic journey that is technically superior too.
Who do you recommend devilsticks for?
I recommend playing the devilsticks to Lorraine Brochet!
What do you advice to beginner/advanced devilstick players?
The advice I would give is that you should always have fun in what you are doing and try to find your own voice in it.