2012 Juggling Year in Review


Another year has come and gone. The world did not come to an end, but there was plenty of activity going on in the juggling world. Records were broken, festivals took place, and like every year, some individuals picked up their first set of props and discovered juggling for the very first time. Let’s take a look back at some of the more memorable moments of 2012.

The 2012 International Jugglers’ Association Festival returned to Winston-Salem, North Carolina to host their annual festival. This festival featured the U.S. debut of performers Cie Ea Eo, who brought their full show to the IJA and taught various workshops. Other performers included manipulation specialist Ryan Mellors, Russian juggling sensation Pavel Evsukevich, and the oldest full-time performing juggler, Freddy Kenton.

In the IJA Individuals stage competition, Satoshi Eto took home the gold, wowing the crowd with his creative, yet highly technical ball juggling. Kellin Quinn won Juniors in a well-deserved, yet controversial decision. In teams, Daniel and Dominik mesmerized the audience with their brilliantly executed glow-club routine to capture first place.

The festival was also able to continue to use the Fun Fund for the second year in a row, which was graciously provided by anonymous philanthropist, iiWii, and was used to finance festival enhancements such as the well-received juggler’s lounge.

The IJA successfully held two more regional competitions in 2012, one in Chile and one in Brazil. Carlos Muñoz took first place in the Chile competition and Franklin Chávez Prado took the gold in Brazil. Both performers are invited to either perform or compete in the 2013 IJA festival in Bowling Green, Ohio.

In a surprising move, the World Juggling Federation announced on just a few months’ notice, that they were holding WJF 8 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Even more surprising than the short notice, was that the event itself was free to attend! Highlights of the event were broadcast live on ESPN 3, with Doug Sayers sweeping most of the competitions and taking home the title of Overall Champion. While there is currently no word on if or when WJF 9 will happen in 2013, it will be intriguing to see if the WJF continues with the free admission business model and what they have in store for future events.

The European Juggling Convention, in its 35th year, had another successful convention. The 2012 convention took place in Lublin, Poland, attracting jugglers and variety entertainers from all over the world. Next year, the EJC goes to Toulouse, France.

The Seattle Juggling Festival had a surprisingly strong and notable debut. The festival saw the juggling reunion of Vova and Olga Galchenko who performed together in the public show and well as many other world class performers. Long running juggling troupe The Flying Karamozov Brothers taught a workshop, and the World Juggling Federation held WJF 7.5 at the festival. Though it had a star-studded premier event, it does not appear that the festival will be returning for 2013.

Sadly, the world lost several influential jugglers in 2012. Robert Nelson, known by many as “The Butterfly Man,” passed away on August 27th. European juggler Luke Wilson, who many IJA members may recently recall seeing perform at the 2011 IJA Cascade of Stars show in Rochester, Minnesota, also passed away.  He was only 35 years of age. Accomplished diaboloist Alexander Schiller and renaissance fair juggler Bruce “Bear” Stone also died during 2012.

At the beginning of the year, Juggle magazine, the official print magazine of the IJA and only remaining North American juggling magazine, stopped publication. However, this was not so much of a full discontinuation of the resource, but rather more of a transitional move on the IJA’s part, as the IJA immediately replaced the printed magazine with its new official online magazine, eJuggle.

Since its launch in January, eJuggle has featured nearly 200 articles and has received around 450,000 visitors. The ezine’s features include juggling news, tutorials, festival reviews, opinion pieces, and various members only premium content, including the exclusive juggling film HEPTAD, by Wes Peden.

Another end of an era in juggling was the shutting down of the Internet Juggling Database. After over 11 years online, the popular resource decided to shut its doors. Though the website will be missed, several other juggling websites have popped up to provided interested jugglers with related content, and the long running rec.juggling also continues on.

In the online juggling video realm, Lucas Abduch and Malabarize-se broke down language barriers by not only taking the Brazilian community by storm with a steady stream of juggling videos, but by providing such high quality juggling productions that they are being recognized internationally.

The ever popular IJA Video Tutorial Contest also returned for 2012 in its third year. Many great prizes were given away, and there were 53 entries from 12 countries in this year’s contest.  The contest will return in early 2013 with more great prizes and amazing user submitted learning content.

The sport of joggling got a spike in attention in 2012. Joe Salter received international media attention when he became the first person to ever juggle a triathlon, this being juggling while running, biking, and swimming, respectively. Joggling world record holders, Bob and Trish Evans, also juggled a triathlon in order to raise money for the Special Olympics. The duo continued on their Brooks sponsored Joggle Happy Tour, as well, joggling in races across the United States. World record holder Albert Lucas made a surprise return to the sport when he competed in the 2012 World Joggling Championships, winning several of the events. Joggling even received mentions in The New York Times and CBS news.

Like most years, there were multiple juggling world records broken in 2013. Numbers king Alex Barron surpassed his previous 11 ball world record and set the new record at 25 catches. IJA Gold Medalists Daniel Ledel and Dominik Harant teamed up with Florian Canaval and set new three person club passing records in 15, 16, and 17 clubs. Just as they had done in previous years, Doug Sayers and Peter Kaseman continued on their tear and broke several records in numbers balls passing in 2012. There were several more unusual juggling records set this year as well.

Just what will 2013 have in store for the juggling community? If trends continue, numbers juggling records will continue to be broken, great festivals will be held all over the world, and streaming online content will continue to grow in popularity. Though there are obvious predictions such as these, there is also a certain aspect of unpredictability about juggling happenings that always makes it exciting.  It will be interesting to see just what happens in 2013.

Here’s to a good upcoming year in juggling.

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Nathan is a juggler from Southeast Michigan. He first learned to juggle in college, and has written for the website Streetjuggling.com. He previously served as Chairman of the IJA and also held various officer positions. When he is not frantically trying to learn new manipulation skills, he enjoys producing music, acting, and watching horror films.

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