The Greatest Juggling Tricks Of All Time (Part 3)

In the first two parts of this article, I examined many of the greatest tricks done by solo jugglers of the past. While this final segment will include more of these, I also want to look at team accomplishments and some more modern tricks that stand above the rest. I in no way intend for these articles to be all inclusive. I could probably write a dozen articles in this series and still have material to spare. The world of juggling is full of the seeming impossible. That’s one of the things that makes our art form so amazing. I also want to say that I’ve had a great deal of positive feedback regarding this series of articles. I may revisit the subject in the future as past accomplishments are discovered and new tricks are invented.

Speaking of discoveries, in part one I discussed the many amazing tricks of Alexander Kiss and included a video of him. The video was in black and white and quite grainy. Since that time, a full color and crystal clear version of the same video has been released. Being one of the best acts of all time, containing some of the greatest tricks of all time, I’ve included this new version below. Notice that the two sections of the balance pole in the six ring routine are not connected. The top one is simply resting on the bottom one! Also, in the video you can see Kiss do about 20 catches of 8 rings with a pole balance on a rola bola. In practice, he would do 100 catches each time to insure that he had the trick perfected!

Quite a number of jugglers have learned to kick saucers and tea cups onto their heads while balancing on various auxiliary equipment. Sicki did it on a rolling globe while Nino Rubio learned the trick balanced on a freestanding ladder. Rudy Horn famously did the trick on a giraffe unicycle. Alberto Sforzi did it while balancing on a slack wire.

Sicki

Sicki

Nino Rubio

Nino Rubio

Rudy Horn

Rudy Horn

However, only Dieter Tasso performed it while combining two of these together. For several months in 1954, while performing with the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus, he kicked the stack of tea cups and saucers onto his head while riding a unicycle on a slack wire! Below is a very rare photograph of the trick, given to me by Dieter.

Dieter Tasso

Dieter Tasso

Part 1 introduced readers to many of 2013 IJA Historical Achievement Award winner Alberto Sforzi’s greatest tricks, but he shared another with me that is quite remarkable. Alberto juggled 8 rings while balancing a ball on a head pedestal, another ball on a mouth stick, and spinning a ring on his ankle. To top it off, he was riding a unicycle at the same time! Another of his greatest accomplishments was to perform 10 rings while balancing a ball on a head pedestal and spinning a ring on one ankle while standing on a slack wire! You can see this trick pictured below.

Sforzi10rings

Amazing juggling tricks aren’t limited to just toss juggling and combination tricks. Russian ball spinner Denis Klopov does a rock solid four ball spinning stack on one finger! See this and other amazing tricks below.

Diabolo work has progressed enormously over my 32 years as a juggler. When I started, even the simplest of two diabolo tricks was considered impressive. Now Robin Spinelli can do five diabolos low for 13 catches while Ofek Shilton can do five high for 58 catches.  See both of these feats below.

Click here to see Robin Spinelli do five diabolos low.

Click here to see Ofek Shilton’s five diabolo world record.

Another recent trick that defies belief was done by David Ferman, who got 11 catches of 5 club Albert / Crotch throws!

Ty Tojo continues to push the boundaries of back crosses with balls. He recently performed 21 catches of 7 ball back crosses in a show and has done up to 91 catches of it cleanly in practice.

Click here to see Ty Tojo’s 7 ball back crosses.

Ty also has the back cross world records for 5, 6, and 8 balls and is very close to flashing it with 9 balls.

Click here to see a flash of 8 ball back crosses.

At the age of 12 Ty did a very original combination trick combining a head balance, five ball juggling, hula hooping, and an ankle skipper. You can watch it below.

Welsh juggler Toby Walker does many unique tricks, including 6 club splits and 6 club mills mess, which can both be seen by clicking the link below.

Click here for 6 club splits and 6 club mills mess.

The following video shows many more of Toby’s impressive tricks, including stand out ones such as five clubs overhead into a five up 360, a 3 up 360 out of and back into five club mills mess, and a combination trick (at the end of the video) that is quite difficult to describe.

Some other very impressive tricks can be seen by clicking on their descriptions below.

Wes Peden has qualified 6 club back crosses!

Jason Garfield has done a five club two stage 720 in back crosses.

Gregory Popovitch ran 9 rings and 5 club back crosses while standing on top of a freestanding ladder.

Emil Dahl flashed 9 clubs!

Alex Barron got 25 catches of 11 balls.

The juggling teams of today do numerous tricks unheard of in the past. Whether you’re watching videos of Daniel Ledel and Dominik Harant, Stefan Brancel and Ben Hestness, or any of the other top teams, their mastery of numbers, 360s, and other tricks continues to push the boundaries. However, I’d like to highlight four teams from the past that deserve special attention.

The Joseph Blank Company specialized in amazing tricks involving one juggler balancing another juggler in various arrangements. The pictures below show two of their more amazing tricks.

JospehBlank2 JosephBlank

Another troupe performing similar feats was the Original Erich Phillips Company. One of their greatest achievements involved Mrs. Phillips doing a head to head balance on a man’s head while the man was standing on an larger ladder. The ladder was balanced on Erick Phillips’ forehead and all three performers juggled various objects at the same time. Another of their famous tricks is pictured below.

Trio4

The Four Afanasjews were a team of Soviet jugglers that worked on a V-shaped apparatus with arms that raised and lowered and which spun. They created a number of interesting tricks using this strange piece of equipment, some of which involve tossing clubs to a point far from the catcher, knowing that the catcher would be in the spot when the club arrived due to the fact that the apparatus was spinning.

Click here to watch the Four Afanasjews.

One additional team trick deserves mention. In 1936, Russian jugglers Nikolai Baumann and P. Solotow each reclined on foot juggling trinkas head to head and passed 6 rings while also each spinning a plate on one foot, a ring on the other foot, and a bowl on a mouth stick!

A current solo performer I’ve failed to mention in this series of articles is Nikolai Gerasimov. This Russian performer’s act contains many amazing tricks, including 9 rings with a head bounce, ten rings with a head balance, an 8 club flash, and an 11 ring flash from his hands. Below is a fairly new video of his act.

While I failed to include numerous jugglers that deserve mention in this series, starting with Cinquevalli and going up to many of today’s superstars, I hope that readers have been exposed to new feats that have expanded their belief in what is possible. If you need one more piece of inspiration regarding what can be accomplished with enough practice, I leave you with one of the most incredible circus stunts of all time. It’s not juggling, but it is A MONKEY ON A GOAT ON A CUP ON A TIGHTROPE. Enjoy.

Click here to see A MONKEY ON A GOAT ON A CUP ON A TIGHTROPE.

David Cain is a professional juggler, juggling historian, and the owner of the world's only juggling museum, the Museum of Juggling History. He is a Guinness world record holder and 15 time IJA gold medalist. In addition to his juggling pursuits, David is a successful composer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and singer as well as the author of sixteen books. He and his children live in Middletown, OH (USA).

Comments 0

  1. Oh man, that new Alexandar Kiss video is great quality! A true treasure to find, and another great article. I’m pretty sure the monkey on the goat at the end beats out every juggler in the history of the world though.

  2. I’m surprised with the kicking up of cups and saucers that you didn’t mention the classic Chinese circus versions:
    1. Kicking up multiple bowls at once (multiplex style, kind of) and having them all nest in place one after another.
    2. Doing the whole kickup to head while on a unicycle on top of a rolling globe. Spectacular!

    1. Scott, I’ aware of someone riding a unicycle on a rolling globe, but not of anyone doing the kickups at the same time. I understand that the young woman who did the unicycle of the rolling globe ended up falling and becoming paralyzed. Here’s a video of her.

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