Artists of Note: Rudy Horn

This is a continuing series highlighting circus performers and producers who’ve made an impact on circus arts history and culture.

Photo courtesy of Bradford Timeline, (c) 2012.

This week’s featured artist is Rudy Horn. He was born in Nuremberg, Germany in 1933 and began juggling at age 7. Instigated by his father, who gave him three apples and encouraged him to juggle, Rudy took those apples to greater heights than anyone could have imagined.

During the 1940s, he entertained U.S. troops in Germany in exchange for cigarettes and chocolate, which were valuable bartering tools at the time. In the 1950s, he joined Circus Krone and began touring the U.S., appearing on the Ed Sullivan Show and in other exhibitions of variety arts.

Rudy’s unbelievable tricks included a series in which he rode a six-foot unicycle while flipping cups and saucers onto his head one by one; a seven-ball force bounce off of a drum; and a long seven-ring cascade with a lamp balanced on his forehead.

See them all in the video above! Ball bouncing @1:05, Rings @ 1:53 and Unicycle @ 2:51. Talk about an exhausting and fast-paced routine!

Rudy didn’t see another performing juggler until 12 years into his juggling practice, making his achievements even more incredible. Imagine going 12 years without being able to ‘Google’ somebody and instantly pull up their act on YouTube. You could say those were simpler times, but Rudy’s juggling was far from simple.

In January 1965, the International Jugglers Association newsletter reported the following:

“If you prefer juggling that is high wide and handsome and full of suspense you should certainly see the phenomenal Rudy Horn.”

To celebrate Rudy’s juggling, toss some cups and saucers on your head. Just kidding! Leave that to the professionals.

Unless you like breaking a lot of plates, learn a foot balance instead! As Rudy demonstrates, using an object that is taller with a heavier top makes the balance easier.

Warm up by balancing on one foot for 30 seconds to a minute. Then, place the base of the object on the part of your foot just above your toes. Look at the top of the object and stay underneath it. Try to keep its motion right-to-left as opposed to forward-backward. It’s harder to recover when it’s falling towards you or away from you. This a fun trick to try with a cane or with an upside-down, folded umbrella.

Stay inspired, and keep creating art!