2014 Cleveland Circus Review

For the third consecutive year, the Case Western Reserve University Juggling Club hosted The Cleveland Circus juggling convention. The weekend-long festival took place in one of the University’s spacious buildings.

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Performer and vendor Grace Alexander spinning hoops.

The main practice area was had more than enough room for all the jugglers in attendance and all the many activities that came with it.

Vendors lined the perimeter of the practice area, and a raffle table with a variety of prizes was also on display. At one point, the organizers even hosted a barbeque upstairs, all for the cost of donating a few dollars or buying raffle tickets. This was a nice activity to have, as it allowed a convenient dining option for jugglers that did not want to leave the campus to try to find places to eat.

There were several workshops that took place over the weekend. These included ball spinning taught by David Cain, overhead juggling with Sam Malcolm, and a comedy writing workshop taught by special guests, Team Rootberry.

A variety of games such as best trick, distance passing, and quarter juggling took place. They had a very large number of participants for each competition. A nice touch about this festival’s games was that the winner of each event was presented with a customized mini-trophy after each event.

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Winners of the distance passing competition, Chuck Clark and David Cain.

Team Rootberry MCed the juggling show. Due to a technical malfunction, they were unable to perform to the music that they had brought with them. However, the duo did not let this slow them down and brought their brand of comedy juggling stunts to the stage in full force. Between acts, they did tricks with whips, passed clubs, demonstrated sword swallowing, and at one point brought onstage a contraption that allowed an audience member to hit a target that resulted in Jonathan Root getting a pie in the face.

David Cain opened up the show with many of his signature boomerang tricks. Cain then went onto perform several combination tricks, while explaining them to the audience.

Next was Chuck Clark, who started his routine with a few knot throwing moves. He justified this by jokingly saying that there were already so many great jugglers in the show by the time he was booked, that he wanted to do something different that was “knot juggling.” He then performed club juggling atop a tall unicycle with the assistance of a volunteer.

Hooping was well represented in the show with a choreographed routine done by Grace Alexander, who was also selling hoops at the event. Alexander drew great applause from the audience as she manipulated 2-6 hoops in her act.

Steve Mills took the stage to do a few comedy bits, including falling off of a unicycle, blowing up a rubber glove on his head, and telling jokes while doing a handstand. Mills finished his set with a three ball routine set to music.

The Case Western Juggling Club represented themselves well on their home turf with a lengthy set that included everything from club passing to diabolo manipulation. Their routine saw different Case Westerners take the stage at different times as they switched props, occasionally having as many as six performers on stage at a time. At one point, they even turned down the lights and manipulated glow props in a group on stage, drawing a huge round of applause from the audience.

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Special guest Sam Malcolm instructing during his overhead juggling workshop.

Headliner Sam Malcolm came on stage with his face painted for a routine the seemed to blend traditional circus with modern technical juggling. Malcolm unleashed his high caliber juggling of balls, clubs, and rings, using several of his signature moves of overheads and 360s, intermixed with occasional bits of physical comedy.

Downstairs immediately after the stage show, a Renegade show took place at a small bar. Though there were a number of people in attendance, the setup was far from ideal. There was no actual stage, nor was there a PA system for the jugglers to use, so the performers made due by speaking loudly and doing tricks on the floor space directly in front of the entrance. The show saw several jugglers get up and perform various tricks ranging from chair balancing, to knife juggling, and at one point, a juggling strip tease. The jugglers made due to deliver a short, yet entertaining chaser to the public show.

Throughout the event, organizers were very accessible and receptive for feedback. If they continue to host such a quality event and make improvements every year, then this festival has a very bright future.

Nathan Wakefield

Nathan is a juggler from Southeast Michigan. He first learned to juggle in college, and has written for the website Streetjuggling.com. Currently, he is The Chairman of the International Jugglers' Association. When he is not frantically trying to learn new manipulation skills, he enjoys producing music, acting, and watching horror films.

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