2015 University of Waterloo Juggling Festival Review

This year, the University of Waterloo held its long-running annual juggling festival on February 21st and 22nd, 2015. Though the outside temperature was bitter cold, that didn’t stop a solid turnout of jugglers from descending upon campus for a weekend of juggling.

The main practice space was in a carpeted open area in the Student Life Center. This allowed for easy access to nearby restrooms, and granted many people passing through an interesting visual.

Though the event only lasted two days, it was jam-packed with activities.

The workshop schedule was posted on the wall so attendees could plan their days accordingly. Workshops ran primarily two at a time concurrent with one another, and were announced every half hour by the organizers. Workshop topics ranged from juggling moves such as zap passing and squeeze catches, to other interesting art forms such as acrobatics and dance.

The winner of toilet paper juggling.

The winner of toilet paper juggling.

Games at the festival included staple events such as club balancing, endurance competitions, and quarter juggling as well as several unique games.

The Juggling Simon Says event was a popular game played at the festival. Though a common event, the festival organizers put an unique twist on the game, by playing a version called “Split Personality Simon Says.” In this version, rather than starting out the competition with easy juggling moves and progressing to more difficult ones while occasionally not saying “Simon says,” the Split Personality version contained nothing but very basic juggling trick requests, but used deceptive requests and multiple assumed identities as prefaces to confuse and eliminate people. For example, instead of simply saying “Simon says” or not, the host would say things like “Simon says, do not do the next trick that Simon says” or “Simon says do the next trick that Fred says to do.” This version proved to be an interesting take on the popular game, and was much more challenging to keep track of than one might expect.

Other unique games included toilet paper juggling endurance (the “prize” was being completely encased in toilet paper) and “Make me a Dinosaur” where contestants had to try to make a dinosaur out of playdough while juggling.

Zack Hunt

Zack Hunt

The Saturday night juggling show was a short walk from the festival space, and somewhat challenging to find. However, the festival organizers made a point to ensure that everyone was able to get there by providing printed maps, and leading several groups of people directly to the venue.

The performance area was unique in that rather than a raised stage, it was a flat stage on floor level, with raised seating. This performance arrangement was well suited for a show of this particular size.

Andrew Giordano served as the MC for the show. He provided antidotes about traveling with the circus and executed several tricks of his own between performer slots. At once point, he performed a Pac-Man themed routine between acts, riding out atop a unicycle and holding a giant Pac-Man cutout while chasing after several people dressed in Pac-Man ghost shirts, before transitioning into a partner acrobatics routine with them.

Mike Moore and Emily Carlson

Mike Moore and Emily Carlson

The first performer of the evening was Josef “Yoshi” Chladny. Yoshi did a routine where he manipulated a hat, cane, and did various ball juggling. For his finale, he balanced the hat on the cane on his face, and juggled five balls, then collected all the balls into the hat.

Mike Moore and Emily Carlson brought a clever relationship themed act to the evening. In the routine, they feuded over juggling clubs and juggling balls, and ended up passing and stealing them from one another in different ways, at one point even using the assistance of a flip-lid trash can, to flip the balls up into the pattern.

Sandra Bessette took to the performance area with three hats, and manipulated them skillfully around. This routine was also serving as her audition act for circus school.

Dominique Rabideau

Dominique Rabideau

After a brief intermission, Dominique Rabideau came out and also did hat manipulation. After several minutes, she set the hats down and pulled out some glow clubs, for a glow juggling routine, which consisted of various three club patterns and tricks.

Tim Dresser providing an unorthodox juggling act where he juggled balls and a bowl. Dresser used the bowl to catch, throw, and capture the balls in interesting ways throughout his performance.

The UW Poppers (represented by Luis Miguel and Ali-Reza Asarizadeh) served as an interesting break from the juggling performances with a freestyle dance routine featuring various popping and locking techniques. The duo were well-received by the jugglers in the audience and added a nice bit of diversity to the evening.

Zack Hunt took the stage next, with a three club juggling routine. Hunt went with a modern and experimental approach with his club manipulation, using a variety of traps, body rolls, and various unusual techniques.

Hand Me Down Circus

Hand Me Down Circus

The headlining act for the evening was the Hand Me Down Circus, consisting of Bekka Rose and David Louch. The duo provided an interesting take on two person acro-juggling. They set the mood right off the bat, when Rose stood on David’s shoulders in a two high stack while holding two clubs. Louch then walked over to a third club that was on the ground, and kicked it up to Rose into a juggle while she stood atop. As if that wasn’t enough, they then transitioned to a hands to feet stand, with Louch holding Rose over his head while she continued to juggle. They then engaged in various club passing and stealing moves with occasional acrobatic moves used in conjunction with them. Their finale was similar to the start of their act, with a two high stack, only with Rose transitioning to standing unsupported atop of Louch’s head.

After the show, many jugglers went back to the practice space for some late night juggling.

Sunday saw volleyclub and combat going on, as well as more juggling in the Student Life Center. Jugglers slowly then slowly left campus, marking what appeared to be another successful year for the Waterloo Juggling Festival.

Performer photography by Steve Wiens.

Nathan Wakefield

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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