With veritable gale-force winds and no less stormy applause, ATOLL Festival for Contemporary Circus in Karlsruhe came to an end on Sunday, September 23. With over 5,500 visitors, the third edition of the widely acclaimed five-day event clearly exceeded the previous year's figure. In 31 events, more than four dozen artists explored the different genres of contemporary circus arts. In a mixture of acrobatics, visual and physical theatre, dance and music, contemporary circus develops a very unique, cross-disciplinary language that can range from fine poetry to brute expressiveness. ATOLL 2018 demonstrated that in nine productions from eight nations.
In particular, highly virtuoso soloists such as the Canadian clown Jamie Adkins, the Belgian scion of the circus dynasty Dany Ronaldo or the New Zealand pantomime Thomas Monckton set standards with very different performances. Audience and critique ingested them with exuberant enthusiasm. In addition, there was the amiably quirky cooking show of the Catalan Circus Escarlata, the artistically perfect performance "Tipping Point" of the British formation Ockhams's Razor, the only two-minute short show "Toni Ronaldoni" of the Dutch Compagnie De Stijle, Want, and the mixed-show Atoll surprise, which was mainly performed by young graduates of European circus schools. They all were called favourites by the audience. Next to Thomas Monckton, the pub circus theatre show "Barstool Bound" also celebrated its German premiere in Karlsruhe. At the opening night, the performance "Extreme Night Fever" by the French big band Cirque Inextremiste, which was announced as a furious mix of concert and acrobatics, elicited some controversial reactions. While especially the younger crowd literally celebrated the opulent circus party, others found themselves in a wild flickering rock concert – to the contrary of their expectations. In the end, this production attracted nearly 2,000 visitors in only three performances -a third of the total number of visitors.
The response from experts from Germany and neighboring countries emphasized that this third edition of ATOLL has established the festival in the audience’s perception and also in the European contemporary circus scene. In Germany, the festival plays a pioneering role for contemporary circus. It is the biggest regular event dedicated exclusively to this art form. The festival is sponsored by the Baden-Württemberg Foundation and the city of Karlsruhe as well as by private supporters. Since its 31 events were sold out soon after the ticket release, the culture centre Tollhaus, which organizes ATOLL, is considering to expand the duration of the festival in the coming year. By doing that, more visitors will have the opportunity to see those performances which take place in small tents, and which are therefore always limited in space.