As with many life skills, juggling can be learned by yourself if necessary, but it often helps to have a coach, mentor, teacher, or trainer. These people can apply their knowledge, experience, and lessons learned to their student to increase or expedite success and improvement. Coaches can help to identify strengths and weaknesses, teach specific technical skills, and help create acts, routines, characters, and explore brand new props or methods. Let’s look a little at the history of coaching in relation to juggling, and then hear from four current leading juggling coaches on the subject.
Many of the best jugglers of yesterday and today have had the benefit (and challenge) of having their parent as their coach. Performers such as Enrico Rastelli, Massimiliano Truzzi, Jenny Jaeger, Albert Lucas, Bob Bramson, Kris Kremo, Paul Ponce, Picaso Jr., Gena Shvartsman Cristiani, and Angel Bojilov Jr had their fathers, who were accomplished jugglers themselves, teach them juggling and cultivate their acts and careers. Anthony Gatto, Ty Tojo, and Trixie all were trained by their stepfathers.
Violetta Kiss and Sergei Ignatov
A few decades ago, Dave Finnigan began a comprehensive education program of both basic juggling and more advanced techniques through his Juggling For Success curriculum that still continues today. He has several books on juggling including The Complete Juggler, which was the bible of juggling tricks pre-internet, and he also put out a number of helpful videos. Dave may have taught more people to learn the basic cascade than anyone ever!
Kit Summers was an extremely talented juggler before serious injuries (including a 30+ day coma) from being hit by a truck ended his performing career. However, Kit then wrote the training book Juggling With Finesse and then became a juggling coach and motivational speaker. His juggling workshops have helped to train many jugglers over the years.
Hovey Burgess has taught circus skills, including juggling, to many budding actors at the Tisch School of the Arts at NYU since 1966 – that’s 50 years everyone! His book Circus Techniques has also been a wonderful resource for jugglers as well.
The prevalence of local juggling clubs, as well as juggling conventions, allowed for jugglers to learn by watching others, getting a quick hit lesson on a trick or pattern, or even attend a brief one hour workshop. IJA festivals over the past couple of decades have allowed for more intensive, paid workshops conducted by leading jugglers from around the world.
For a number of years in and around the 1990s, Benji Hill served as a formal juggling coach, producing a number of IJA champions (Juniors and otherwise) and successful performers including Robin Chesnut, Jonathan Brady, The LaSalle Brothers, Jonathan Rosenberg, Chuck Gunter, Stephen Caruso, and David Dimuzio Hill was criticized for producing jugglers with very stiff posture and similar routines (sometimes teased as BenjiBots), and there were whispers of other questionable behavior by him as well, but his jugglers certainly achieved a high level of refined technical ability and acts well suited to many performance venues. Hill created a highly structured training regimen which produced great results in terms of technique.
Some jugglers have served less as a formal coach, and more of a resource or mentor. In a time period where many jugglers kept to themselves and were reluctant to share tips on juggling, Bobby May was extremely generous with his time, insights, props, and coaching in the 1940s until his death in 1981. Paul Bachman had a vast knowledge of juggling history and shared his knowledge with many jugglers in helping to shape their juggling. David Cain provides insight to many jugglers on long forgotten tricks, new approaches to old props, and guidance on technique on a weekly basis. Both Paul and David have received the IJA’s Bobby May Award, presented to jugglers who are always willing to help others, and named after one of the art’s first great mentors. Hovey Burgess and Mike Vondruska are two of the most distinguished juggling teachers, and past recipients of the IJA’s Excellence in Education Award (along with Finnigan and Summers), which is presented annually.
With the popularity of youtube, modern jugglers are often able to learn tricks on their own with the help of these online videos. However, the art of coaching is far from dead. Laido Dittmar recently released a training product called Fast Juggling Success to help train jugglers. It can be found at http://www.fastjugglingsuccess.info/product/ebook/.
Coaching Q & A
Despite having more avenues to learn juggling today, many continue in a more formal format, seeking assistance from coaches in a face-to-face and one-on-one setting to improve their routines and technique. I thought I would ask four leading juggling coaches, all with differing programs and approaches, to answer some questions in hopes of sharing some insights on coaching for juggling. Dan Holzman and Jay Gilligan are past recipients of the aforementioned Bobby May Award, while Richard Kennison and Paul Arneberg (leader of the Jugheads) have won the IJA’s Excellence in Education Award described previously. I posed a set of questions to all four, and their answers are below.
- Tell us about your background that makes you well-suited to being a juggling coach.
Jay Gilligan – At first, when I started teaching, I didn’t think I was suited to being a coach at all. I had no idea what I was doing. Over the years I realized that growing up in Ohio, without a specific juggling coach of my own, had let me figure things out for myself. And it was this self-awareness that made it possible to share what I do with others. In Europe there are circus schools in every country. This is good in that there are opportunities for students to get an education, and perhaps bad in that the students then give all the responsibility to the schools to teach them- instead of taking more initiative themselves. There’s even a trend now in France where jugglers who don’t go to school are treated as “special,” labeled as an “autodidact,” and given more respect in the industry!
Dan Holzman – I’ve been a professional juggler for over 35 years with extensive experience in the real world of show business, and have achieved a great deal of both artistic and financial success as a working juggler. Information about my career as one half of The Raspyni Brothers can be found at raspyni.com and information about my solo career can be found at danholzman.com More importantly, I really care about helping other jugglers achieve their potential. This can be illustrated by the fact that I was the go-to choice to receive the very first Bobby May award given to a juggler who gives back and supports the community of jugglers.
Richard Kennison – I have a background in theatre. I attended a university theater conservatory. I have an undergraduate degree in Philosophy. I also have a BS in Sports and Entertainment Management. I was a performing Juggler. My stage name was Fletcher Valentine. I performed in the Midwest. Mostly in Missouri. For three years I was the featured juggler at a Magic themed restaurant called Abra Ca Dabra. One of my real talents is helping a client look as good as they can with the current skill set they have.
Paul Arneberg – “Well-suited” may be a stretch, but my path to juggling coaching was paved by sweat equity with general youth work rather than by any specific juggling credentials, techniques, or juggling-specific performance experience. In fact, I learned to juggle the very same summer and in the same setting where I learned to work with kids, at age 20 at a high-adventure Christian camp in Bass Lake, CA. Although a passion in my 20’s, juggling never became more than an avid hobby, but youth work became my career, and coaching juggling came later (and with much trial & error). Non-juggling-related skills that I bring to coaching are my degree in Communication, Music and Theatre; recruiting many highly capable juggling and dance specialists; forming and training a 17-member Student Leadership Team (SLT); and my own experience as goal-oriented athlete and stage performer, which drives me to inspire the kids toward continuous progress in juggling and audience-worthy juggling performances.
- Tell us how long you have been coaching and about the specifics of your coaching program (private instructions for a fee, as part of the school program, university major).
Jay Gilligan – I started teaching in circus schools around the year 2000, starting off in Belfast at a community circus school, quickly followed by the circus school in Stockholm later that same year. Before that I had done some private coaching in America, and given a few master class workshops here and there in the 90’s. Concurrently, I taught juggling at grade schools in America, and of course presented workshops at juggling festivals.
Dan Holzman – I’ve been coaching other jugglers informally for over 25 years, but made the coaching a more serious part of my career about five years ago, when I started to travel less as a full time performer. Information about my coaching service can be found at braindrizzles.com. I usually teach over Skype, but also do quite a bit in-person at my house, or at a nearby rehearsal space. This a private fee-based service, and I am not a part of any school.
Richard Kennison – I’ve been teaching juggling for 4 decades. I’ve been coaching for approximately 25. I am a coach at Circus Harmony located in St. Louis, MO. Circus Harmony is under the direction of Jessica Hentoff. It’s a social youth circus program, and I teach/coach Juggling, Unicycling and wire. I’m also an act creation coach and the acting teacher. Students can book privates with me. During those sessions, we could be working on technique. Or a goal – like 5 balls. Or more often, we are creating a juggling act. I also have a private coaching business that is not directly linked to Circus Harmony. I have clients all over the world. They send me you tube videos. I critique the video and give them homework. One week later, we repeat the process. We get together in person for a week or so to prepare for a competition act.
Paul Arneberg – I’ve been coaching since 1994, when I started a 10-member juggling club for 4th-6th graders while serving as manager of an older childcare program in Edina, MN. In 1998-1999, I spun off the jugglers to form our own independent company. JUGHEADS, LLC is tuition-based, yet it draws no aid from the government, a school system, or a church. In fact, not only is JUGHEADS my full-time living (with my wife, Wendy, helping me about half-time since leaving her graphic design profession 12 years ago), but the tuition we charge is sufficient to pay for renting year-round space in a church, plus daily snacks, use of props, specialists, insurance, a home office, etc. (Our rates are comparable to Community Education classes.) As a further boon to youth juggling in our area, several former Jughead parents founded the Edina Youth Juggling Association (EYJA, under the Edina Community Foundation) in 2004. The EYJA accepts tax deductible donations in order to off-set certain big charges each year, like renting a high school auditorium for our annual spring production, Juggle Jam, as well as purchasing certain props (primarily for our competition teams) and hiring occasional specialists above-and-beyond my own budget constraints. The EYJA now even has an annual scholarship awarded to one or two Jughead seniors who have exhibited outstanding leadership, service, and skills in the art and sport of juggling.
- Tell us who some of your past notable students have been and who are some of the bright stars of tomorrow or today that you are currently coaching.
Jay Gilligan – Since I’ve taught in many different venues and contexts, and on such different levels, lots of jugglers have been in a class of mine. However, the work I’m most proud of has been at the circus school in Stockholm, where I’ve gotten to develop the juggling program (along with the help of a few key administrators and several influential colleagues) over the course of many years. This has created a rich community of jugglers. Notable students have been Erik Åberg, Kristian Wanvik, Olle Strandberg, Pasi Nousiainen, Jens Sigsgaard, Jouni Temonen, Magnus Björu, Quentin Bancel, Matias Salmenaho, Basile Narcy, Viktor Gyllenberg, Peter Åberg, Wes Peden, Patrik Elmnert, Ron Beeri, Tony Pezzo, and Emil Dahl. This spring we will be graduating a class of three jugglers – Nelli Kujansivu, Guillaume Karpowicz, and Onni Toivonen.
Dan Holzman – The juggler I have worked with the longest and most extensively is Niels Duinker comedyjuggler.com. When we started, there was a lot to overcome in his development as a comedy juggler because English is not his first language. Other jugglers I have worked with include: The Kamikaze Fireflies, Bronkar Lee, Alex Zerbe, Pete Irish, and Josh Casey. I also work with other types of variety performers such as magicians, memory experts, ventriloquists, etc..
Richard Kennison – I’ve had the privilege to coach many students, some of them from a young age. Ones you might know include Casey Boehmer, The Boehmer Family Jugglers, Cameron Ritter, Book Kennison, Nathaniel Sorrill, Thom Wall, Tony Pezzo, Ryan Himmel, Kellin Quinn, Reggie Moore, Liam Halstead, Ashley Ellis, Jack Denger, Claire Wedemeyer, Elliana Grace, The St. Louis Arches, Chauncey Kroner, Ronja Bol, Viola Dix, Sebastian Braun, Noah Schmeissner, Delaney Bayles. I am coaching Christopher Hauser for Juniors this year. Some new clients include Brinley Schmuck, Patrick Russell, Copper Santiago and Jean-Tae S. Francis. A few young ones that will be very good in years to come include Sam Peeler, Ollie Lloyd, Isabella Mazjun, and Maya Zuckerman. I have coached the last four years IJA Juniors Champion. I have also coached 15 Phil winning acts at the Groundhog Day Juggling Festival in Atlanta, Georgia. This summer at the IJA, I will receive The Bobby May Award. I am humbled beyond belief.
Paul Arneberg – We keep three free-standing banners in our main workout space: two have large photos of our 13 most recent Juggle Jam casts, and the third lists all of our IJA Stage Championship Finalists since 2000. Focusing on our junior competitors, our medalists have been Billy Watson, Nate Martin, Ben Hestness, Jack Levy, and Daniel Van Hoomissen, plus other competitors such as Lana Bolin, Anthony Peterson, Scott Richter, Ryan Towey, Stefan Brancel, Joey Spicola, and Danny Gratzer. Billy Watson and Ben Hestness went on to appear in IJA Individuals Championships (with Billy earning two silvers), and Stefan Brancel teamed up with Ben Hestness to earn IJA Teams Gold just two years after earning their first Teams gold, that year with our varsity-level Ultimate Club performing as “The Jugheads.” Nate Martin is the most decorated Jughead regarding IJA experience before high school graduation: four teams competitions, including two bronze and a silver, and the Juniors silver.
- Do you have a specific approach you follow in coaching?
Jay Gilligan – Since there are so many different things to do with juggling, I try to work with concepts that apply to anyone, with any skill level. Additionally, juggling technique usually just takes time to learn. This is part of the process where I don’t personally need to be involved, since I’m working with concepts and not specific technique. Therefore I try to cover as many different concepts in as short of amount of time as possible. This translates into using the simplest way to communicate these concepts which can then be applied individually on a deeper level. The result is basically a series of one ball exercises which demonstrate each new idea. This is because the ball is the most basic juggling prop shape, which gives the lowest entry barrier to the work. Someone off the street could participate alongside a juggler who can do a 7 club cascade. It is then up to each person to curate these ideas further.
Dan Holzman – Definitely! I have many unique teaching methods, and have developed my own techniques that help performers create original and funny variety routines. My main approach is what I call the Framework Technique, this is a 4-step process that starts by building the routine on a strong base and working up from there.
Richard Kennison – Each client is different. I will only coach you if you have a specific goal in mind. The goal can be a technique or an audition or a competition. Depending on the time frame (which is usually a year), we fix bad habits, teach new technique, and use endurance to get stage strong. Then we will start creating an act. I do not have each client do the same act or moves. I hope the client will be an active participant in creating an act. I am the coach and try to keep a strong professional relationship with the clients. I believe that time is the one commodity that is precious and I try not to waste my client’s time and I expect them not to waste mine.
Paul Arneberg – As a hobby juggler, I made up much of my own teaching style as I went along from 1994-2004. However, when Billy Watson began his long five-year training stint toward his lone Juniors appearance and two consecutive Individuals appearances, juggling five hours every day in addition to cardio & weight training, he introduced my company to many techniques he was learning through Benji Hill. Beginning March of 2004, all six of my weekly clubs now have formal group warm-ups, and my SLT and I coach individual kids using a lot of work with the Perfection Pyramid (several short, controlled runs working up to fewer, longer runs, but all within one’s current record on any given prop or skill). We also do a lot of the chase with three objects to drill the kids on 5 balls/rings/clubs, and I credit Richard Kennison for emphasizing the right-right-left-left pattern (starting with three objects in one’s right hand) as his preferred drill for five objects. Richard also inspired me to greatly increase my company standards for balancing a club on one’s face, as he teaches his own beginners the club balance even before three balls.
- Do you coach toward a specific skill / technique, style, theme, character, or entire act/routine (and if so, for what? (IJA, circus))?
Jay Gilligan – Juggling is currently very individual to each person. Therefore I don’t try and push one particular style, or technique… there is no “right” or “wrong.” I only try to find out what the jugglers want to do, and help them achieve their goals. Part of this process is also educating them on all of the choices they can pick from. When you ask me a question about coaching to a specific end, and then qualify some of the examples as IJA, circus, etc. … I completely understand what you mean. But to label something as “IJA style,” we must really be careful to understand what we are talking about. In this case, we are referring to a style of performing juggling, which then dictates certain techniques. I am very conscious to separate juggling from performance when I teach. I generally only teach juggling. This work can then be put into whatever context is desired, i.e. comedy juggling, circus juggling, or whatever other genre is needed… or not needed, depending on if the students will be performers or not (amateur and/or professional). I don’t believe that the word juggling (or juggler) is synonymous with the word performance (or performer). When I teach at the circus school in Sweden, I am hired to work inside the mission of the school which at one point was a “new circus” curriculum. I then had to decide what the term new circus meant on a broader scale, and then narrow that down to the field of juggling. This has been refined over the years, to the point where I now make a very clear distinction between juggling techniques (and their related concepts), and using juggling in any type of performing environment. There have been some attempts to label a “Stockholm School of Juggling” style, aesthetic, or approach. But personally I don’t see a readily common one, or at least one that’s visible outside the classroom. The students are all offered complete freedom in whatever it is that they want to do. Without a doubt their social environment affects their choices, as do the available markets since most of the jugglers I work with do also make a living through juggling. As well I think its very important to understand why you are teaching and what the real goal is. Perhaps at a juggling festival, teaching actual tricks is a good idea- you have a captive audience who have specifically identified themselves as jugglers and who have also probably chosen to take your (publicized) workshop based upon whatever name you gave it (5 Balls the Easy Way by Professor Confidence, etc.). But at a corporate retreat, teaching juggling is actually more about communication, team building, process, etc. As long as the participants grow in those desired areas, not everyone needs to walk away having achieved a three ball cascade perhaps, there are larger themes at work. The same can be said about working in a circus school sometimes- especially as a visiting teacher for one day or one week, some schools make every student participate in the juggling courses, not just the students who have juggling as a main discipline. Is it your job then to simply teach them the basics of juggling, or is it to instead inspire them to want to explore object manipulation more (ever try to teach a bored aerialist the 2 ball exchange?) and give them tools to apply juggling ideas into their own areas of interest (handstand, teeterboard, trampoline, etc.)? Jugglers who have paid to take a master course from you, with your name in the title as a way of marketing it, usually have pretty specific expectations… least of all to get a compliment from you on their newest trick! They also expect to walk away with “cool tricks that no one else can do, but are really easy to learn in the first or second attempt.” I don’t mean to sound condescending, rather I want to acknowledge that the exchange of hard cash for taking the course does yield expectations of very concrete results, which with juggling are mostly to be gained more in the long term rather than the class hours. It can be very tricky to navigate all these details. I regularly have class hours with a mix of jugglers who are doing diabolo, ball bouncing, poi, foot juggling, club juggling, ball juggling, ring juggling, and partner juggling. In this situation if you want to teach a shared experience, and give each student a full lesson, you have to be very agile mentally. I can go in one day and teach hat and cigar juggling to 20 students but probably only 1 of them will be happy, while the other 19 will be completely bored and obviously won’t have their own hats and cigars anyway. The worst style of teaching that I regularly see is going into a class and teaching them your act. Not only does this cross the juggling = performing boundary, but it also immediately alienates all the students at once since the material isn’t personal to them. This method is also used as a recruiting program, because once you teach all the students the act, you can easily hire the best ones and at a reduced student wage. You are essentially being paid to hold an audition for your company. This is shameful and something I saw early on in my teaching career. It really pushed me to respond to each student’s wishes, instead of pressing my own agenda upon them.
Dan Holzman – My areas of expertise are comedy, variety performance, creative thinking, comedy writing, career guidance and mentoring, and accelerated learning strategies. I gear my coaching towards comedy performers who want to achieve the highest level of work available for variety artists such as corporate events, cruise ships, colleges, and performing arts centers.
Richard Kennison – I coach skills. I am a specialist in teaching 5 balls to beginners. I do coach and write entire acts. I believe in setting goals, so many of my clients have the goal of competing at the IJA. I also coach youth circus acts.
Paul Arneberg – Regarding bids to compete in IJA Teams (“The Jugheads” or smaller ensembles of Jughead members have made the Teams Finals 14 times since 2000, with eight medals), the kids almost exclusively choose to use clubs, and my coaching staff leads them with the overall structure and approval of patterns. My past Ultimate Club coaches and specialists include Dextre Tripp, Billy Watson, Jay Gilligan, and Kelvin Ying, with Chris Lovdal and Jon O’Connor tag-teaming several weeks at a time this year. Regarding our annual Juggle Jam production, I take a much more theatrical, variety-show approach, with favor given toward musical theatre themes, dance-specific themes, or occasional movie themes. West Side Story, Fiddler on the Roof, “Boy Bands,” The Sound of Music, and “Bollywood” have been notable themes in the past few years. Going back further in time, my Elite Club once did a three part juggling tribute to The Lord of the Rings over Juggle Jams 4-6. This year, our most rousing themes are likely to be to High School Musical and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. We have done a few “storybook” juggling routines as well, from a sort of fractured fairy tales approach to the Gingerbread Man (where the 30-member Thursday Rec Club ended with the Macarena before chasing the Gingerbread Man offstage) to “How the Grinch Stole Juggle Jam” to The Giving Tree to this year’s theme with one of my youngest clubs performing their own version of The Very Hungry Caterpillar. With some of these themes, the juggling skills come first, then we try to insert them into music, costumes, characters, and dance according to what each club theme warrants. Sometimes we have vignette-based routines where small groups of kids come up with their own ideas; two of my favorites were “Nintendo Video Games” in 2010 and “Classic TV Commercials” in 2011, both in Advanced Club. But thanks to former coaches Scott Richter and Kelvin Ying and innovations by Wendy, our group routines now primarily feature group choreography, making the performance more interesting and theatrical rather than individualistic and less connected. Both approaches can work (e.g., vignette-based and large group-based), but most audiences have appreciated when our routines have more choreography and across-the-board skills rather than disjointed performances.
- Do you have a coaching or juggling philosophy?
Jay Gilligan – The main, and only, goal of my work is to promote and achieve consciousness. This means you can juggle with your right shoulder 5 inches higher than your left shoulder, with your head leaning to the side, rocking back on your heels, and with a hunched back… as long as you know you are doing all those things and they are a conscious choice. The other part of consciousness, besides the physical part, is understanding where your juggling fits inside the history, tradition, and community of jugglers, and having a clear idea about what you want to achieve and why.
Dan Holzman – I consider myself a commercial artist and both those two words are very important to me. I work to help performers create unique and personal routines that can not only work in the real world, but can also be game changers that can take their careers to a higher level of success.
Richard Kennison – Again –I believe in goals and writing them down on paper. The IJA is a great place for a young juggler to set a big goal that is one or two years away. I do not believe in the idea of a person who is born to be a great juggler. I believe in hard work and time spent, and practicing smart – lots of endurance training. I would take a person who has a strong work ethic and a desire over a more “talented” juggler any day. Clients have to be coach-able. Not everyone is. I also think juggling is a very difficult art form to present. At its base is “look what I can do that you can’t.” This is the weakest theatrical context there is. Juggling is boring after 1 minute (or less) so what I need from my students is for them to share their being with the audience. They need to realize they are having a conversation with the audience. They have to know that juggling is just the vehicle for entertaining. Don’t get me wrong, I expect my jugglers to also have strong skill sets. Students have to understand that juggling includes learning, practicing, rehearsing, and performing. All of those have to be addressed.
Paul Arneberg – Goal-setting. My personality is the opposite of “Zen” when it comes to accomplishing things in life. I enjoy accomplishing something every day, week, month, etc., whether it’s scoring a high average in Words With Friends, running 25 miles a week, saving money, or simply meeting my own self-imposed deadlines for my monthly newsletter, the JUGHEADS JOURNAL. Similarly, I strongly emphasize the standards levels for our four basic groups of Jughead members: Rec, Advanced, Elite, and Ultimate. (Super-Ultimate is a bonus level of standards invented by Stefan Brancel when he was in 9th grade, but only four Jugheads have ever achieved all of those standards!) Without detailing the standards, I’ll simply state that my go-to suggestion during our open juggling times is to work on a new standard, or double a standard, or work on that standard skill enough so it’s performable. I believe personal accomplishments are a great tool to boost a child’s or teen’s self-confidence, so encouraging our system of standards is a great way to make sure they’re focused and progressing…and goal-setting.
- What do you wish for the student to get from your coaching?
Jay Gilligan – I want them to be able to make anything they want in the most efficient way possible.
Dan Holzman – My main goal is that my students have a successful career and most importantly a happy life and healthy life. I like to focus on the kind of lifestyle the performer wants to create for themselves, and then help them to improve their act and careers in a way that will help them achieve their goals.
Richard Kennison – I am trying to guide my students to find their selves as artists. I am helping them increase their vocabulary and enlarge their vision. One of my jobs is believing in my clients-sometimes more than they believe in themselves (at least in the beginning).
Paul Arneberg – My aim is to not merely share my skills (and those of my SLT and specialists) with the Jugheads; I want to share my very life with them as an overall, life-lesson-giving role model and mentor (to greater or lesser extents, depending on my relationship with each student and his or her receptivity to being mentored). As a Christian who is open with his faith, I want the Jugheads to see in me an example of someone who takes his faith seriously in all aspects of life, but who also has a lot of fun while encouraging godly virtues and a drive to inspire excellence in all of them. One doesn’t need to be a Christian to be a Jughead—far from it—but ultimately, I want to provide the Jugheads with a glimpse into a man who lives out his faith while not demanding they share my faith. From that worldview, I can still give love, guidance, and holistic care to any child or teen. I hope I show them that I care for them far beyond “mere” juggling skills, and instead care that they’re developing good personal character that will hopefully take them far in life. And they know that despite my not answering to any earthly authority as I run this as my own business, I am accountable to an Audience of One who will ask me to give an account for how I treated, loved, empowered, and developed each child and youth over all these 22 years and counting.
8. What else would you like eJuggle readers to know about you and your coaching experience?
Jay Gilligan – Teaching juggling is like starting to tap dance- super easy to do terribly. Being a good teacher is basically like doing a performance all the time you are with students, curating the experience and leading them to discover the ideas seemingly on their own. My main job as a teacher has been to have an opinion against which the students can frame their own thoughts. What do you say each day in class to Wes Peden? This is the question I was faced with for three years. Luke Wilson and I used to call each other up, as he was teaching in Sweden sometimes too, and ask each other what we should do with Wes in the next class. We discovered that juggling is more than a collection of tricks, and these underlaying ideas can be better transformed through discussions, both verbal and physical. This means teaching is not a one way street, with a “teacher” and “student” hierarchy in this case. Its two people forming a common goal and both growing from the experience.
Dan Holzman – I don’t accept everyone who contacts me. I am only excited to work with performers who are excited to work with me, who will work hard and are dedicated to becoming successful performers. I have achieved a certain level of financial freedom because of the success of my own juggling career. Coaching is not my full time job and I don’t rely on it as my main source of income, this allows me to be flexible and reasonable with my rates, but also allows me to be picky with who I will spend my time with as a coach.
Richard Kennison – I’m a full time juggling coach. It is my only job. I enjoy the whole process. Getting to know the client and figuring out how to show that on stage. Planning and practicing and rehearsing with the big goal in mind. I love standing behind the curtain at the IJA with the performer just before the emcee introduces them, and saying “ok let’s share all the hard work with the audience. Lets do what we’ve come here to do.”
Paul Arneberg – I can’t take credit for being a brilliant juggling coach, because I’m not. I know a lot about working with kids, and “enough” about juggling. I’m like Ed Sullivan, running the show (so to speak) but with the kids (and the specialists and SLT who serve them) having the real juggling skills. However, I’ve grown more content with the fact that even though I’ve raised our own Ultimate Club standards so many times that I could no longer qualify as a member, I realize that God has put me here for such a time as this to be the anchor of the company even if I took an unlikely path to get here. I’m still Youth Director first and Juggling Coach a distance second (or even further back, behind Jughead-related writer, speaker, theatre director, etc.), but somehow, there is a very special connection that happens when many kids from varied backgrounds (several from difficult personal experiences, bullying, and broken homes) come together through juggling in general but also JUGHEADS specifically. We are blessed and benefited from a great heritage that is only growing year by year, by God’s grace. Just this week, I commented to Wendy that I wish all of my current Jugheads could really grasp just how many special young people went on before them. They may be oblivious, but one thing I treasure in my heart is the changed lives who also helped to better this company, paving the way for me to continue to develop youth through juggling as an unlikely youth worker who started at age 20 and now sees his 50th birthday on the horizon. Juggling is a tool for me to develop youth, but it’s proving to be a timeless tool and one that keeps the kids coming back year after year.