As part of the 10th International Theater Olympics, which runs from April 15 to June 24 in Budapest, Hungary, the multi-award-winning high-wire artist László Simet Jr. will cross the Danube on a high-wire as part of the Hungarian National Circus Arts Center’s ÁTMENTEM (in English: I’VE CROSSED) project.
The Theater Olympics, established in 1994 on the initiative of Greek theater director Theodoros Terzopoulos, originally operated under the slogan of “Crossing Millennia.” This slogan referred to connecting the past, present, and future of human cultural experience and celebrating theater as a diverse, intercultural experience going into the 21st century.
The National Circus Arts Center of Hungary, under the direction of Peter Fekete, a theater director himself, has been making tremendous efforts nationally and internationally to elevate the circus arts and integrate them into the bigger tapestry of the performing arts. Besides the opening ceremony event by László Simet Jr. over the Danube, circus artists will greet audiences all over the festival’s venues in front of twenty theaters and locations with short wire or other circus performances, highlighting the event’s motto about preserving values, building bridges, and connecting values in the arts and beyond.
In an open letter about the project, Peter Fekete stated, “The I’VE CROSSED project calls attention to the responsibility of arts: to save, to transfer our cultural treasures to the other side. We must carry, save and pass on our values to the next generation. As with all performing arts, circus arts have a special responsibility to respond to the changing world around us, and the emerging circus arts are at the forefront of this.”
László Simet Jr.’s walk on April 15th also commemorates the 150th anniversary in Hungarian history of the unification of the independent cities of Pest, Buda, and Óbuda, into Budapest.
The Budapest Danube crossing is a world premiere, where Simet will be balancing on a 300-meter-long, 22-millimeter-thick wire rope without a safety rope. The event will be live-streamed for those who cannot be present at this never-before-seen event. The organizers’ website invites people to join the unique broadcast and contribute a 20 EURO viewing fee to the Budapest Circus. They say that “from the comfort of your own home, you can experience what it is like to walk across the Danube, defying gravity, the wind, and the surging pull of the river’s elemental force, with the help of a GoPro camera mounted on the artist and the balance pole. Live coverage from the air will be supported by drones and cameras mounted on the barges, providing a unique experience for those in front of the screens.”
László Simet Jr. learned high-wire balancing from his father, László Simet Sr. Simet Sr, who was discovered by the artist Mihály “Baldio” Balogh, a dominant figure in the Hungarian circus world, and then invited him to join the epoch-making Baldio Group in 1955.
At the age of twenty, Simet Jr. joined his parents’ high-wire balancing act, and from 1978, he performed with them in the world’s most famous circuses under the stage name 3 Simet.
Since 1989, he has been riding a motorcycle on a wire rope, and since 1995, the wheel of death has added color to his artistic repertoire. Simet Jr. has performed in the most famous circuses, outdoor amusement parks, theaters, and stadiums on every continent except South America.
Simet Jr. has appeared in Cirque du Soleil’s La Nouba and many of Cirque’s special events, including “Le hangar des Oubliés” and “Les Chemins Invisibles” in Quebec City. He also played a significant part in the 2012 London Olympics and Paralympics closing ceremonies.
He was also a part of the historic last cast of the Ringling Bros Barnum & Bailey tour, where he performed his production, “Astronauts,” a recreation of the Koch Sisters’ act from 1944, which is a combination act of death wheel and high wire.
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