Ask David – January 2021

Welcome to my column for eJuggle, Ask David. In this column, you can ask me for my opinion, advice, or knowledge about anything juggling-related.

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 37 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 400 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.

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Olivier Cagnairt asks, “What is the biggest mystery in the field of juggling history?”

My response: That’s a great question. Well, if you had asked me that question a few years ago, I might have answered “the location of the Vin Carey Collection of historical juggling props.” However, I’ve since answered that question, which you can read about by clicking here. So, here are the top mysteries that I can think of off the top of my head.

  • What happened to the Larry Weeks Collection and the Homer Stack Collection. Both of these jugglers had incredible collections of props and photographs that were apparently stolen following their deaths.
  • What happened to the films of Paul Cinquevalli (in 1901) and Morris Cronin (in 1896) that we know were made? Also, were any films of Kara, Salerno, Selma Braatz, and Frank LeDent ever made? If so, do any of them still exist today.

Paul Cinquevalli

Selma Braatz

  • What methods did Frank LeDent use to juggle 11 balls and 9 plates around 1908 and how long could he do both feats? Also, why were his records overlooked until recently?

Frank LeDent

  • What happened to all of Cinquevalli and Rastelli’s props? We know of one existing Cinquevalli prop and around 15 to 20 Rastelli props that are still around. Where is everything else they used?

David Cain with Cinquevalli’s cannon ball

  • Why do the three basic juggling patterns (cascade, shower, fountain) all have water-related names. (See the next section of this article for more on this topic.)
  • Is there any evidence of juggling somewhere in the world that predates the 4,000 year old Beni Hasan tombs in Egypt?

Beni Hassan tombs

If you happen to know anything about these mysteries, please don’t hesitate to contact me. The Museum of Juggling History really needs props from Paul Cinquevalli and Enrico Rastelli!

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Marco Paoletti asks, “Why is a shower called a shower and why is a cascade called a cascade?”

My response: Well, to be honest, we don’t really know. We don’t even know who gave them those names. It is quite interesting that the cascade, shower, and fountain – the three basic toss juggling patterns – all have water-related names. Here’s what I do know about the origins of pattern names.

In the 1901 booklet New Juggling Tricks by Professor Ellis Stanyon, what we now call the cascade was called “the shuffle,” while a shower was already known as “the shower.” This is the earliest publication I’ve found that gives names to those two patterns.

Illustration from Stanyon’s booklet

In a magazine article from 1908, Paul Cinquevalli teaches both the shower, which he calls by that name, and the cascade, which he doesn’t give a name to.

In the 1910 book The Modern Manipulator by Carl Martell, the author calls the cascade “mixing” and the shower both “the chase” and “the shower.” It teaches the 4 and 6 ball fountain, but doesn’t give the pattern a name.

The 1921 book Juggling by Rupert Ingalese uses cascade and shower as we know them. This book was quite popular and seems to have cemented these as the proper names for the patterns in the English-speaking world.

The book also teaches the “double shower,” or as we more commonly know it, the half shower. Note that when I started juggling in the early 1980s, both “double shower” and “half shower” were commonly used for this same pattern, although nowadays “half shower” is almost universally used.

The book also teaches the fountain with 4 and 6 balls, but doesn’t assign a name to the pattern.

In 1947’s Manual of Juggling by Max Holden, the names “cascade,” “reverse cascade,” “shower,” “double shower,” and “fountain” are all clearly defined and illustrated. This is the earliest use of “reverse cascade” and “fountain” that I’ve found so far.

In reading the Russian juggling book Flying Saucers, I was intrigued to learn that traditionally in Russia, what we call the cascade was called “cross juggling,” the fountain was called “parallel juggling,” and the shower was called “the cascade.”

Nevertheless, at least as far as the names go in English, we know that “shower” was established first, followed by cascade, and then fountain. I will continue searching through old juggling literature for these terms.

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If you’d like to submit a question for Ask David, feel free to email me at davidcainjuggler@hotmail.com or contact me via Facebook.

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 twenty-four books. He and his children live in Middletown, OH (USA).

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