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2016 - Special Guests
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Special Guests

The IJA festival in El Paso will feature these Special Guest performers and workshop instructors in the Plaza Theater
at the Welcome Show on Tuesday, July 26 and the Cascade of Stars on Saturday, July 30. Both shows at 8pm.

Emil Dahl

Cascade of Stars
Originating from Sweden, with the Scandinavian juggling style in his heart, Emil started juggling at the age of seven when he taught himself how to juggle three balls. When he turned 10 his mother gave him his first clubs and it has been his dearest object since then. Making his living out of juggling from an early age, he has performed for a number of different audiences, at various stages and arenas, as well as Swedish, Finnish and Danish national television.

After high school he moved to Copenhagen and studied for two years at the highly regarded Circus school AFUK - Akademiet For Utæmmet Kreativitet. He received a bachelor of art from DOCH - University of Dance and Circus in Stockholm, and is now touring the world with his act Magnet Opus.

Click here for information to sign up for Emil's Special Workshop during the festival.

Aleksandra Savina

Cascade of Stars
Aleksandra Savina was born on April 8, 1989 in the city of Zaporozhye, Ukraine. In 2006 she graduated from high school and enrolled in the Faculty of International Tourism at university. Her parents were against her going to the Circus Academy. But a year later she went to Kiev, secretly from her parents. Yuri Pozdnyakov saw her and she enrolled in the two year circus program at the Academy.

In 2010, together with Taras Pozdnyakov she made Ring-O-graphy. With this act she has performed in various European shows and festivals. In 2015 she performed in the Phoenix Festival in Paris and the Spanish city of Albacete, and won a special prize from the jury.

Now she is working on a second act with other props, and she dreams of making a big circus show with her friends.

Click here for information to sign up for Aleksandra's Special Workshop during the festival.

Braulio Lopez

Cascade of Stars
Braulio Ernesto Lopez Ramirez won the Gold Medal of the 4th IJA Regional Competition in 2015 at the Periplo Circus Festival in Guadalajara, Mexico.
Braulio was born in Mexico City, Mexico and studied Graphic Design at the University of UVM, then began his full time career as a juggler ten years ago.

He has taken workshops and courses in Mexico, Poland, France and Brazil, where he participated in a circus center called NECITRA, and he is currently is a recipient of FONCA (National Fund for Culture and the Arts) in scene creation. He has been active as an artist and workshop instructor in international festivals, performances, and events, including: the Youth Circus Gathering for Circus Athayde in 2011 and 2014, the 2012 EJC in Poland, the show “Hotel” with the company Flip Circus in 2013, and at the 15th Brazilian Convention of Circus. In 2014 he was invited to the 10th annual Festival of Circus of Porto Alegre in Brazil.

Amanda Crockett

Cascade of Stars  /  Welcome Show
Amanda Crockett is passionate about making motion into laughter. She created and performed a principal character and hat juggling role for Cirque du Soleil’s Michael Jackson ONE in Las Vegas and is most well-known for her uniquely skilled and hilarious fusions of comedy, trapeze, mime, and hat juggling. At age 9, Crockett started clowning alongside her father and has since performed around the world. Highlights include: Circus Flora, Carnivale in Venice, Italy, Krystallpalast Variete, Festival Mímame in Colombia, El Circo Cheapo Cabaret, Shanghai's Oriental Arts Center, Midnight Circus, Anjos do Picadeiro in Rio de Janeiro, the Edinburgh Festival, and Australia’s Tasmanian National Circus Festival. She is a graduate of the Dell'Arte International School of Physical Theatre and continued her training with several circus coaches and at Celebration Barn Theater. Crockett has been hailed a “clown jewel” in Shanghai, “absolutely brilliant” in Seattle, “immensely gifted” in Chicago, won an Audience Choice award in Germany, and has been called a “virtuoso” by clown luminary Avner the Eccentric. After so much time running around the world, Crockett is happy to spend most of her time these days home in Chicago.

Nelli Kujansivu

Cascade of Stars
Nelli Kujansivu, about to graduate from the University of Dance and Circus (DOCH) in Stockholm, Sweden, is a finnish circus artist specializing in foot juggling. Her unique, non-traditional approach uses the aesthetic movement of the feet as a way to express feelings and motions, mixing her high technical skills with a new kind of movement and repertoire of tricks she created during her studies at the DOCH.

Nelli started circus as a hobby when she was 4-years-old in Sorin Sirkus, gathering knowledge of banquine, acrobatics, pyramids and hula hoops. At the age of 11 she found foot juggling.

In addition to teaching, Nelli has performed in many local and international circus festivals, including the 2010 European Youth Circus festival in Wiesbaden and the 2013 Young Stage festival in Basel.

Carlos Araya

Cascade of Stars
Carlos Araya (aka Charchaso) of Santiago Chile, has been juggling for 13 years won the Bronze Medal in the 2015 IJA Regional Competition - South America.

Recently, he has had several popular online videos, showcasing his high technical skill with 5 & 6 ball siteswap and technical juggling. We're excited to be welcome him to the Cascade of Stars line-up!

Rody Olivares

Cascade of Stars
Born in Santiago de Chile in 1994, Rody Olivares is a talented Diabolo performer who picked up his first diabolo at the age of 15 to board on an incredible journey.

As a professional juggler, he has participated in different circus festivals and competitions, including winning the bronze medal in the "2012 IJA Regional Competition - Chile", the gold trophy in the national adult category at "Festival Internacional Circense de Chile", and earning two trophies at the "International Circus Festival of Albacete, Spain": one from the famous circus company "Cirque Dreams" and the other one from the company "Grupo Eulen".

To this day he continues to push himself, improving as a juggler every day, and focusing on what is most important for this artist: entertaining the audiences around the world.

Peter Irish

Cascade of Stars
Peter Irish is known the world over as perhaps the greatest juggler in the world....with his feet! Pete's feet have won him 6 World Championships in the game of Hacky Sack, as well as an “Innovation in Juggling” award. Pete has been traveling the world for nearly 20 years performing his award winning, unique brand of variety entertainment.

Pete became a member of the Footbag Hall of Fame in 2004 and is a founding member of Big Add Posse, a group of skilled freestyle footbag players who have contributed to the progression of that sport in a unique way.

Institute of Jugglology

Cascade of Stars
Galen Harp and Ellen Winters formed the Institute of Jugglology in 2006 as a means to tinker with objects in visually appealing ways. They were awarded the IJA teams silver medal in 2012 and the gold medal in 2014. In their spare time Galen collects juggling art which may be viewed on the Institute of Juggling Art Facebook page, while Ellen is the director of the Youth Juggling Academy.

KamiKaze FireFlies

Cascade of Stars Emcees
Rob Williams and Casey Martin are based in Los Angeles, performing their comedy and circus show, Kamikaze Fireflies, for audiences all over the world. Juggling, hula hoops, german wheel, whip cracking, and many tricks never seen anywhere else. On America's Got Talent they received a standing ovation and Howard Stern said, "Fantastic. Captivating. You're funny. I was sucked into this thing. It was wonderful. I can't wait to see more."
Rob (along with Kevin Hunt and Jon O'Connor) created the Flaming Idiots in Austin, Texas and toured the world for twenty years, from renaissance festivals to 4 separate runs on Broadway at The New Victory Theater on 42nd Street in Times Square. Casey Martin has been working as a professional acrobat and variety performer for over a decade. She graduated summa cum laude from Westchester University with a degree in Education, moved to Los Angeles and immediately began getting cast in film, television, commercials, and music videos. She can be seen all over the world breathing fire in a California Tourism commercial starring William Shatner.

Kelsey Strauch

Welcome Show
Kelsey Strauch is a one-woman show that plays well with others. She is an acrobatic movement artist specializing in object manipulation. Kelsey has performed on stages all across North America and been featured in national magazines, film and television. She is a certified yoga instructor and avid acrobatic Yogi. Along with a BFA in Painting from the University of Oregon and completing the Professional track program at the New England Center for Circus Arts, Kelsey has trained and apprenticed with several (big) top coaches and clowns. She currently lives in New York City studying acting for film and television.

Asaf Mor

Welcome Show
Growing up in South Florida, cyr wheel artist Asaf Mor trained in multidisciplinary circus arts under Evgeni Baranok of the Moscow State Circus School. While pursuing his engineering degree in Gainesville, FL, he was the lead coach of his university’s aerial acrobatics organization, and mastered his 3-ball cascade only after becoming the Vice President of his university’s juggling organization.

Asaf relocated to Dallas in 2014 to begin his engineering career and has been a member of the Dallas Lone Star Circus since, having been featured in the shows for two consecutive years.

Chris Hodge

Welcome Show
Chris Hodge is a juggler from Charlottesville Virginia. He started juggling in 2006 after watching IJA festival DVDs and promptly attended his first IJA the next summer as a Juniors competitor.

He was trained at l’École de Cirque de Québec and now is an active member of the Air Raid Juggling Club as well as a medical student at the University of Virginia.

Derek McAlister

Welcome Show
Derek McAlister was born in Dallas, Texas to an entrepreneur and a lovely southern belle. With a fascination for language and other cultures and an inspirational trip to Europe in 1999, Derek began studying theater at University and immediately after graduating went abroad to make a show.

For the past 15 years he has been traveling, juggling, training and defining his nerdy clown characters in the streets and theaters of Europe, Australia, Thailand and North America. He has trained with Giovanni Fusetti and is happy to be returning to Texas.

Fernanda Sumano

Welcome Show
Fernanda Sumano is a Hooping Rock Star from Mexico! Born into a performance family, she is a natural on the stage, who definitely has the "It Factor". Fernanda won the first ever Gold Medal for the IJA Regional Competition - Mexico, in 2011! She teaches at festivals throughout Mexico and at Casa de Artes y Circo Contemporáneo in Mexico City and is a founding member of Mexico City's Huladicción, one of the largest hooping communities in the world. She has also been an invited performer and workshop instructor in Israel, and is excited to be coming to the US for the first time!

Bruce Manners

Welcome Show
Bruce Manners has been performing his act, “Comedy & Juggling and Stuff,” for over 25 years, appearing at a wide variety of venues.  From corporate events to county fairs, comedy clubs to backyard pool parties, Bruce has seen it all (and a bit too much of some of it).  With a blend of old school juggling and stand-up comedy, his act is best described as “Stand-up Juggling.”  Bruce is also known as the world’s greatest Canadian-born, expatriate Ohio juggler living in Texas — proving he’ll go to great lengths to be the best.

Marvin Ong

Welcome Show
Marvin Ong moved to the United States at age 20 from Borneo, Malaysia where he played lots of sports. He learned spinning/flow arts in the US. Marvin is a constant practitioner, instructor and performer, having turned his daily meditation and practice of his craft into a full-time profession. He now organizes his own flow events and runs a fire tool & flow toy company with his brother & wife.


Welcome Show
Jonathan Root and Bill Berry have been performing together for almost 20 years. They have won several juggling awards, including the 2002 IJA Individual Numbers Bounce Championship, the 2003 IJA Teams and Individual Stage Championships and were publicly voted for the 2003 IJA's People’s Choice Award. They have also earned several Guinness World Records in Sword Swallowing. Their show has taken them to 70 countries and all 50 states in the US. During their many travels they’ve accidentally stolen two cars, met Tony Hawk and the Duchess of Cambridge, survived a knife fight in Poland and literally had to duck bullets during an armed robbery in Jamaica. They’ve eaten bizarre things like chicken stomach soup, green iguana, and innards of a sea snail, which they claim, is a delicacy. Their show is a pie in the face, slip on a banana peel, comedy thrill ride that’s unlike anything you’ve ever seen before.

Zak McAllister

Welcome Show
Zak McAllister is an 18 year old juggler from Temple, TX. His recent work with balls has been influenced by jugglers such as Kyle Johnson and Haavard Hvidsten. Zak has performed at Austin Jugglefest and is  creating a 25 minute video containing all of his favorite tricks with balls, clubs, and rings to be uploaded on YouTube.

Dan Holzman

Welcome Show Emcee
Dan Holzman 
has been called a Juggling Genius because of his unique and entertaining twist on the 2000 year old art of juggling, his clever one-of-a-kind stunts have earned him two Guinness Book world records and four appearances on The Tonight Show. During his 30 year career as an entertainer Dan has toured with Comedy legends Robin Williams, Billy Crystal and Howie Mandel, performed for The President of The United States, and even entertained the sequestered O.J. Simpson jury.

Dan Holzman’s show is a funny and fast paced blend of comedy and coordination that is a perfect balance of humorous dialogue and incredible feats of skill. In 2009 Dan was presented with the International Juggling Association’s Award of Excellence in recognition of his outstanding work as a professional juggler.

Scott Meltzer & Katrine Spang-Hanssen

Individuals and Teams Championships Emcees
Scott Meltzer & Katrine Spang-Hanssen (aka “Scotty & Trink” aka “Comedy Industries” aka “Bad at Branding”) have been juggling for a combined 65+ years and still can’t do poi. They’re known for a profound ability to mouth off at each other, a skill that thankfully does not diminish with age.

They have won numerous awards (true because one is a number!), and they specialize in writing and performing custom presentations for corporate clients at trade shows, sales meetings, and training sessions, with a client list that boasts more than 200 of the Fortune 100.

In addition to juggling, Katrine is a professional drummer, and Scotty has taught comedy writing at IJA Festivals since 1990. Come see why people say: "Those who can’t do, teach" when they host the 23rd annual IJA Individual and Teams Championships on Thursday, July 28, in El Paso, TX.

Bekah Smith

Juniors Championships Emcee
Bekah Smith taught herself to juggle when she was 18 as a way to relieve stress. She practiced juggling on her own in rural Kansas for two years, inventing numerous tricks and even getting started on five balls before discovering that there were other jugglers in the world! Her first IJA was Winston Salem in 2009, and she started performing and teaching professionally a few years later. In 2013, she won the IJA’s Excellence in Education Award along with her husband, Warren Hammond, and in 2014 she won first place at the IJA’s Busking Competition. She enjoys symmetrical passing patterns, playing field ball, and long walks on the beach.


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