Luke Wilson, who died on October 3, aged 35, from cancer, was one of the UK and Europe’s premier jugglers. Born in London, but brought up in Portsmouth, he was known for his technical excellence, his broad skill base, his attention to detail and the extreme generosity he displayed in sharing all of those attributes with his fellow performers and hobbyists.
He began as a magician and later picked up juggling, honing his talents in street shows as a teenager. He developed both disciplines to extremely high levels, becoming the South of England Close-up Champion in 1995, as well as winning a bronze medal in the Festival Mondial du Cirque de Demain in 2003 as part of the juggling duo Lukaluka with his then partner Ilka Licht. He went on to perform across the globe, from cabarets in Germany and the US, to festivals back home in London or in Japan.
His ability to pass on his knowledge and experience led to him being an incredible asset to juggling across the continent. He was one of the graduates from the first-ever recognised qualification in circus arts (a BTec, delivered by Circus Space between 1995 and 1997) and continued his involvement with education throughout his career.
He taught in some of the major HE institutions, delivering higher education circus qualifications across Europe (in the Netherlands, Sweden and in the UK), and was instrumental in the delivery of the first postgraduate master’s degree course at the Dans och Cirkushogskolan – University of Dance and Circus in Stockholm, Sweden, where he was a regular teacher and professor of juggling.
He was curious, open and involved with all aspects of performance, even performing with musicians or as a stand-up comedian in Germany. He expanded into directing, where he undertook the creation of a show entitled Mortale at the Krystallpalast Variety Theatre in Leipzig, Germany, at the end of this summer. The show will run until early November, including a charity performance for Macmillan Cancer Support on November 2.
Luke was an avid blogger and writer and contributed to expanding the knowledge in the circus sector, not just in juggling but in performance as a whole. He practically lived in airports, train stations and other forms of transport, and could be found participating in events in Colorado or in Southend, where he was involved with organising the public performance at this year’s British Juggling Convention.
He counted the world’s greatest jugglers among his friends and was appreciated by everyone he came into contact with. He left far too quickly and still had loads to accomplish. Many of us not only lost a friend but also an invaluable collaborator. He will be sorely missed.
Luke is survived by his mother and older sister.