February 2023 – We lost one of the Greats.
David Spathaky, was born in Portadown, Northern Ireland, of Greek origins. He chose one of Irelands most rugged peninsulas – Beara as his home. Here, between the rocks, the ocean, the earth, the sky and the bracken Dave found a place of recovery, of meditation, of solace, and of creativity. This is when we in the Irish Street Arts, Circus and Spectacle Network got to know him, and he became a part of the Irish Circus community.
Dave was an innovator, a maverick, an agitator and a subversive. All these traits made him a radical pioneer in circus. Without his passion and eccentricity – circus in the western world would undoubtedly be in a different place than it is now.
In 1984 while working at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe ‘Ra Ra Zoo’ was born and Dave was integral. Founded by Sue Broadway, Stephen Kent, David Spathaky and Sue Bradley together – ‘Ra Ra Zoo’ was motivated by a desire for change – political & social. ‘Ra Ra Zoo’ sought to do more than create circus which entertained – one might say they sought to instigate.
They called this version of circus ‘Neo Circus’ or ‘New Variety’. Now it might be referred to as ‘Contemporary Circus’.
This seminal circus troupe spawned many new circus artists over its lifetime including ‘Gandini Juggling’, ‘La le les’, ‘Gravity & Levity’ among others.
In 1991 David Spathaky and Sue Broadway set themselves a new challenge….to become Guinness Record breakers…of the obscure variety of course….spinning plates in Tokyo live on television. They spun 91 plates. This record has since been beaten in 1996 – again by David, this time assisted by Debbie Wooley in Bangkok Thailand where they spun a phenomenal 108 plates. The record remains unbeaten.
This year ISACS and the members of ISACS will be working on a project inspired by the art of Plate-Spinning in partnership with Creative Ireland for Cruinniú na nÓg. Dave’s legacy and skill will be inspiring the circus artists of the future onwards and we aim to honour that.
We take this opportunity to send all our love to his wonderful daughter Stevie, who herself is moving through the circus world shaping and evolving.
Enormous LOVE Stevie xx
Dave you were a LEGEND! A grumpy, contrary, awkward legend and one whose knowledge, wit, talent, and avant-garde behaviour will be sorely missed.
Thank you for being part of the Irish circus story and life.
Links to David’s work
World Record Plate Spinner