Welcome to my new column for eJuggle, Ask David. In this column, you can ask me for my opinion, advice, or knowledge about anything juggling-related. The idea for this column comes from Jacob D’Eustachio, who suggested it to me and provided the first question, which you can see below.
In case you don’t know me and you’re wondering why you might want to know my thoughts, here’s a bit about me. I’ve been a professional juggler for 36 years and have performed over 15,000 professional shows. I’ve also set over 20 world records and won 15 IJA gold medals. I’ve won two of the IJA’s honorary awards: the Bobby May Award, given to the top juggling mentor / coach, and the Excellence in Education Award. I’m also one of the world’s leading juggling historians. I’ve written 13 books about juggling history and well over 300 articles about juggling and juggling history. I also own the world’s only juggling museum, The Museum of Juggling History.
So, now that you know a bit about me, let’s get to our questions for today’s column.
Jacob Eustachio writes: “Dear David, what sets Evgeni Biljauer apart in juggling history from Ignatov or Kiss? What do you think his most distinct contributions were?”
My response: Great question. Evgeni Biljauer was certainly one of the Soviet Union’s brightest juggling stars, performing from 1967 to 1997. His biggest rival for the title of top Soviet juggler during most of his career was Sergei Ignatov. Ignatov was known for his serious nature, juggling with five clubs, seven large balls, and up to eleven rings to classical music, and poetic movement. Biljauer, on the other hand, is usually remembered for his playfulness, acrobatic moves, and creativity, not to mention his incredible skill. Biljauer was the first juggler to perform a five club, five up 360 and the only juggler to ever perform a five club three up front roll. Not to ignore numbers juggling, he performed up to ten rings and was the first Soviet juggler to perform 7 clubs. He also performed to big band and jazz music, which went more with his high energy and sometimes improvised routines. Ignatov was not one to play with his audiences the way that Biljauer would.
The next video highlights Biljauer’s playfulness and personality as well as some incredible acrobatic tricks with three clubs, such as a front roll to juggle on his back, a kip up from lying down to standing, and a back flip.
Certainly Evgeni’s work with five clubs (and six and seven) were precursors to what Anthony Gatto would later do. If you watch his famous practice video linked here, you can see how far ahead of his time Biljauer was. In the 1980s, he was doing tricks decades ahead of when others would achieve them.
Alexander Kiss, who was winding down his career as Biljauer was beginning his, was, like Ignatov, much more serious than Evgeni. If Biljauer was the master of club juggling and Ignatov the master of rings, then Kiss was the master of incredible combinations, many of which have never been duplicated. Below you can see videos of Kiss and Ignatov to compare these three great artists.
Our next question comes from Eoin Alan, who asks, “Hey David, I remember seeing your article on jump rope and juggling back when I first started working on it. Is there a record for throws / catches while holding the handles? I saw one guy doing it with the rope attached to his wrist, but that lowers the difficulty. I have done 8 catches of 3 balls, 6 catches of 4 balls, and a flash with bounce juggling.
My response: I’m not aware of anyone who had accomplished those tricks while holding the jump rope handles, so to the best of my knowledge, you have the current records. Great job and keep at it.
Speaking of the article I wrote on juggling while jumping rope, I realize that I left out two great jump rope juggling performances. The first is Wes Peden’s amazing jump rope juggling section near the end of his act in there following performance.
The second is Alexander Brezitskiy’s amazing 8 ball juggle while jumping rope that is manipulated by his assistant. It’s the final trick in the video below.
If you have questions for me regarding my opinion, advice, or knowledge on anything juggling-related, you can email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact me through Facebook.