Juggling in the Netherlands

The European Juggling Convention of 2016 is going to take place in Almere, the Netherlands, next summer.

Whether you will or will not attend the greatest juggling convention the world has ever seen (being a member of the organization, I might be a bit biased…), I hope I can interest you with my knowledge of Dutch juggling culture!

HJW2015, picture by Vincent Groenhuis

HJW2015, picture by Vincent Groenhuis

Are you planning a trip to the Netherlands? Make sure to combine it with a visit to one of our conventions.
When you consider becoming a stage professional, read the part about circus schools.
Do you like to watch juggling? In here you’ll find plenty of links to discover videos of Dutch Jugglers!
At the bottom of the page you’ll also find some info about the upcoming EJC.

Juggling Conventions

The Netherlands hosts 5 annual multi-day juggling conventions, and a couple of single day events.

  • In February, the year starts with the WJW, Winter Juggling Weekend in the south of Limburg.
  • In May, over the Ascension weekend, there is the NJF, Dutch Juggling Festival. This national convention is organized in a different city by a different team each year and lasts 4 days. In 2016 it will be held for the 26th time, this time in Arnhem.
  • In June, there is the EJF, Eindhovens Juggling Festival, and, as the name suggests, it’s in the city of Eindhoven.
  • October has the HJW, Fall Juggling Weekend, organized yearly by the university juggling club of Twente in Enschede.
  • Last but not least, there is the NK, Dutch Juggling Championships, which has taken place at different times in different years. In 2016 it will take place in January.

The WJW, NJF, EJF, HJW, NK… Yes, we seem to enjoy using abbreviations for our juggling events!

On top of these, there are some single day events – mostly organized by youth circusses – which have more local attendance.

Video of the NJF2015

I love the atmosphere at Dutch juggling festivals. Since the community is relatively small, everyone knows everyone. We get along really well and are a colorful bunch of people. There are always plenty of people passing clubs, kids playing diabolo (too skilled for their age), teenagers challenging each other to flash more balls, adults exchanging contact juggling moves, a bit of partner acrobatics in the corner, lots of chitchat, etc.
The Dutch juggling community feels like my family. Nowadays, I live and travel abroad but will always return to the Netherlands for these people!

Circus schools

Besides the 55 youth circusses in the Netherlands, there are even 2 professional circus schools in the Netherlands: Codarts Circus Arts in Rotterdam (Codarts) and Fontys Acadamy of Circus and Performance Arts in Tilburg (ACaPA). Both offer 4 year bachelor degrees.

Codarts Circus Arts

There have been plenty of (international) jugglers at both schools, but surprisingly, as far as I am aware, there has never been a Dutch juggler that graduated from ACaPA. The Dutch are under-represented at their own schools anyway, with less than 1/6th of the students at both universities being of Dutch nationality.

At Codarts, multiple Dutch jugglers graduated, such as Arjan Groenendijk, who appeared in the jugglers top40 of 2009, David Severins who performed in the EJC galashow of 2011 and Joris de Jong who currently tours with famous companies such as Seven Fingers and Eloize.

Dutch jugglers

Marco Bonisimo

Marco Bonisimo

I tried to count how many professional Dutch jugglers are currently performing. If I had to estimate how many people make over 50% of their income from performing juggling (so excluding workshop teachers), I’d make a rough guess and say: 15. It is a small group, so practically everyone knows each other. On top of these, there are plenty of semi-pros or ex-pros who have moved into different fields.

There have been a few “famous” Dutch jugglers. Three have made the top40: Niels Duinker in 2004, Arjan Groenendijk in 2009 and Mees Jager in 2014.
Also, some older jugglers might remember Michiel Hesseling who created a popular club juggling VHS around 1990. In 2014, the “legendary” Freddy Kenton performed in the EJC Legend stage.

Another handfull of great jugglers have remained relatively unknown. Some of our other experts are:

  • Dixie Wanner, who was among the first people in the world to master 4 diabolos low.
  • Simon A Campo, who has flashed 11 balls in different patterns.
  • Nikki Sneep-Snijders, one of the best technical devilstick players (probably the best female devilsticker in the world).

For some more record achievers, check out the list of Dutch juggling records

EJC2016 in Almere

The European Juggling Convention will take place in the Netherlands for the first time in 15 years. In 1989 it was in Maastricht, and in 2001 it was in Rotterdam.

Almere is the perfect location for the convention. There is a train station practically on the festival site and from there it takes 20 minutes to go to the airport of Amsterdam. I have visited the site and the sports center. The sports center is large and very modern. Currently they are still constructing a swimming pool and extra gym which should open well before the EJC.

The core team consists of 5 very enthusiast jugglers and acrobats, with plenty of organizational experience in different fields. I have a lot of trust in them.

With such a tight juggling community in The Netherlands, it was easy to construct a larger team for all the sub tasks. Right now, there are about 30 of us, and we have been meeting a couple of times to discuss the identity which we want to attach to this festival. Since we all know each other well, communication runs smoothly.

Over the coming months, more and more official information will be released through the website and facebook, but I am very excited already!

I hope to see you all in the Netherlands, if not this summer, then another time!

Daniel Simu

I am a juggler and circus performer from the Netherlands. I travel all over Europe to learn, create, discuss, perform and organise, and I am always looking for fun projects to join! Feel free to contact me about anything :)

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