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Brad Weston’s Stagecraft: Mime

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This column explores different art-forms and the creatives who work in them. We look at how choreographers approach their work, what an improviser needs in his tool kit to do well, and how a painter sees the world. In each case, I will apply the techniques of each specific art-form to juggling and demonstrate ways in which we can apply the creativity of other disciplines to our own.

Mime: the most hated variety art-form in America. It’s also the least understood and, at this point, one of the rarest. Billy the Mime [http://billythemime.net/] is pushing the boundaries and delivering a solidly entertaining and thought-provoking show. The creator’s name is Steven Banks. I got him on the phone and we spent close to an hour talking about creativity and what it takes to be successful.

When I first contacted Banks to do this interview, all I knew about him was that he was a mime. What I didn't know was that he’s also a musician, an actor, and a writer for television and books. He had his own sitcom on PBS, wrote a New York Times bestselling book, and as head writer for SpongeBob Squarepants, he was nominated for an Emmy.

YOU MUST BE AN IJA MEMBER TO READ THE INTERVIEW WITH ARTHUR TRACE…

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Gatto Practicing: Clubs Exclusive Video

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4 Clubs (00:00)

– Over head
– Synchronous
– Asynchronous
– Triple-Singles
– 1 high (maybe 7333)
– With under arm throws
– With backcrosses
– With Alberts
– Synch umbrella
– With collision
– With under arm throws
– Splits
– With forward and reverse spins
– Scissors
– Chin rolls
– Head rolls
– Drops over shoulder
– Into balance
– Chin rolls
– Head rolls
– Solid kickups (maybe 534)
– with regular spins and helicopter spins and from each hand to each foot
– Kick up to same foot kick up to juggle
– Shower
– Multiplex shower
– With Ball bounce
– 2-high pirouette (with ball bounce)
– Roll club on head (under ball bounce)
– To juggle all 5 back (regular and tennis)
– Backcrossed all 5 with ball thrown directly from backcross to head ounce
– Throw ball high to bounce on ground behind to head bounce

5 CLUBS (6:03)
– Overhead
– 3-high pirouette to juggle (not over head)
– 94444
– with helicopter spin on head
– Flash 3, 2 simultaneous treblas, to juggle
– Joggling in place with every throw under the leg (for 3 then 5 throws)
– 7 right-handed Alberts in a row
– Half-shower
– Tennis
– Multiplexes
– 64 Synchronous
– with cross-overs
– Backcrosses
– Directly to dips
– Multiplex to catch behind the back
– 5-high half and full pirouettes
– With ball bounce
– To juggle 6 back to head bounce (sometimes from behind the back throw)

6 CLUBS (12:00)
– With ball bounce
– To juggle 7 back to head bounce

7 CLUBS (12:55)
4 backcrosses
– 5-high priouette (Never succeeded but many close attempts)
– High throw back into juggle

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Stagecraft: Magic

NOTE: While most articles on eJuggle are free to the public, this exclusive article is for IJA members only. If you're a member, log in on the side to read the full article. If you're not a member, read about the benefits of IJA membership in the About menu at the top of the page and join today!
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This column explores different art-forms and the creatives who work in them. We look at how choreographers approach their work, what an improviser needs in his tool kit to do well, and how a painter sees the world. In each case I will apply the techniques of each specific art-form to juggling and demonstrate ways in which we can apply the creativity of other disciplines to our own.

This month brings us an interview with a modern legendary magician, Arthur Trace. He received international recognition in 2005 by winning 1st place in the stage competition at the International Brotherhood of Magicians stage competition. At the same convention he was also awarded the people’s choice award and the Gold Medal for Excellence in Stage Magic award. To get a sense of what his highly crafted and entertaining show is about, I recommend watching his demo video at http://arthurtracemagic.com/

My conversation with Arthur lasted over an hour and he had so much to say. It was a pleasure to talk with someone who has done so much deep thinking about what it means to be an artist. As difficult as it was to synthesize our talk down to 2,000 words, I think that you will find his approach informative and inspiring.

YOU MUST BE AN IJA MEMBER TO READ THE INTERVIEW WITH ARTHUR TRACE…

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Gatto Practicing: Rings Exclusive Video

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Table of Contents:

5 RINGS WITH A HEAD BOUNCE (00:00)
-Half shower in each direction to full flat reverse
-Half shower with flat fronts and pancakes for highs then lows then both
-Multiplexes with flat fronts
-Full pancakes
-5-high half and full pirouettes. Also 5-high pirouette, catch two, pirouette to juggle
-With ball bouncing on head for about 30 seconds into 6 objects and back to 5 with bounce

6 RINGS WITH A HEAD BOUNCE (03:06)
-For 30 seconds
-To juggle all 7 back to head bounce
-To juggle 7 to 7-high pirouette

7 RINGS WITH A HEAD BOUNCE (06:20)
-To break down and back up and finishing with pull-down (through bounce)

8 RINGS WITH A HEAD BOUNCE (07:10)
-For about 30 throws
-Start with 1 around neck and juggling 7 to pull off to juggle 8
-Pull down all 8 (through bounce)

9 RINGS WITH A HEAD BOUNCE (08:23)
-For about 20 throws
-Pull down all 9 (through bounce)

8 RINGS (10:10)
-juggle while balancing ring on nose
-To pull down

9 RINGS (11:05)
-Many runs (best around 60 throws)
-7-high pirouette to finish and to juggle (total 36 throws -16 before, 20 after)
-9-high pirouette
-9-high pirouette to pulldown
-Nick throwing in from 1 to 9 rings

10 RINGS (22:10)
-Fountain for about 24 throws

11 RINGS (22:30)
-Flash from hands (no holster)
-Flash to pull down (with holster)
-Flash with head bounce (with holster) (Never succeeded but many close attempts)

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Gatto Practicing: Balls Exclusive Video

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Last month we interviewed Anthony Gatto about his thoughts on practicing. For the next three months, we will share videos of Anthony's public practice session that he did at BJC 2000. They show Anthony at his peak, the year he won the Golden Clown at The International Circus Festival of Monte-Carlo. The first video, below, shows his warm-up and ball juggling (duration: 28:38), the second will showcase his ring juggling (duration: 29:02), and the final video will be his awesome club juggling (duration: 17:13).

Special thanks to Anthony for letting us show this footage.

Table of Contents:
WARM UP (0:00)
– Balancing 6 inch stick on nose to balancing shorter and shorter until ~2 inches. Each time bending knees down to squat.
– Bouncing ball on head with pirouettes
– Head rolls including to back of neck. In both directions.
– Spinning ball
– Practicing good starts
– Curls – 4 on right, 4 on left
– Spinning balls on both hands
– arms straight up to arms out to sides
– Kicking ball foot to foot
– and juggling 3 clubs
– 5 Balls – over head and over head with multiplexes

COMBO TRICK (7:00)
– Balance Pole on forehead, spinning ring on foot, and juggling
– 5 clubs for exactly a minute
– 6 clubs for about 18 catches
– 7 clubs for about 14 catches

5 BALLS (11:35)
– Over head
– with multiplexes
– 744
– 5-high pirouette
– 1 up, 4 up
– with catches behind back and half-pirouettes
– Backcrosses
– with 5-high pirouette back to back crosses
– 94444, 11 444444 with bounce
– 1/2 and full 5-high pirouettes. Also 5-high half-pirouette, catch two, full pirouette (total 1.5) to juggle
– with head bounce for a full minute
– into juggle all 6 and back into 5 with head bounce (sometimes big ball thrown behind the back directly into head bounce)

6 BALLS (15:25)
– with head bounce for about 30 seconds
– into juggle all 7 and back into 6 with head bounce (sometimes big ball thrown behind the back directly into head bounce)
– 3 in one hand pirouettes in each hand
– multiplexes
– shower, multiplex shower

7 BALLS (18:00)
– With head bounce to head balance
– Half-shower with occasional behind the back throws
– Over the head
– with multiplexes
– 5 high pirouette to juggle (not overhead)
– Multiplexes
– High throw to bounce back into 7
– Backcrosses for about 7 throws
– Shower for a few throws

8 BALLS (21:49)
– Fountain (best around 170 throws)
– With ball balanced on head (about 20 throws)
– With ball bouncing on head (about 16 throws)

9 BALLS (26:35)
– Cascade (best around 84 throws)
– With ball balanced on head (about 15 throws)
– With ball bouncing on head (about 11 throws)
– Juggle to toss back to Nick catching in net

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Stagecraft: Improv

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This month we look at the art of Improvisation. The word ultimately comes from the latin: improvisus, which translates as unforeseen. When an artist is involved in the creative process, they literally can not see the terrain that lays ahead.

The creation of performance pieces and the development of new juggling tricks is a pure act of improvisation. We uncover the unseen and reveal the hidden. Although long and short form comedy improv on the whole stands apart from the variety arts, there are so many similarities that it bears a closer look. What’s more, there are many resources that can be found in print that can help us deal with our own issues, such as creative block, free association, and continuity of theme.

Many of today’s great improvisers such as Mike Meyers and Tina Fey got their start at a school in Chicago called Improv Olympics, a school founded Charna Halpern. She is also the author of a classic improv manual: "Truth in Comedy". Here is an excerpt of an interview we did last week.

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Three-Ball Pattern from Praise

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EXCERPT:

Frankly, I don’t know what to call this, other than Praise’s Pattern. He didn’t share a name with me, he just demonstrated it and explained some pre-exercises to build up to it. The move has elements of three well-known patterns. First, there is the familiar crossing and uncrossing of the arms as in Mills Mess. Second, there is a hint of the extended double-arm crossing, as in Eric’s Extension. Third, there is a trace of a Hi-Lo Shower with some low Shower passes thrown underneath some high-flying balls.

It takes a total of fourteen different throws and catches to run through a complete cycle. Two sets of throws occur at the same time, which reduces the number of beats—throws and catches—to complete a full cycle to a series of just twelve beats.

The pattern is symmetrical along the vertical axis; seven throws and catches (carried out over six beats) on side are mirrored on the opposite side. Remember, though, the symmetry is not seven beats on one side of the pattern followed by seven beats on the opposite side. The throws and mirror images are spread out throughout the cycle.

Each ball has a unique flight path. You throw and catch the white ball six times in one cycle, while the striped ball and the black ball only have four throws and catches each during a cycle. Again, since two of the beats involve simultaneous throws from both hands, the fourteen throws and catches become a total of twelve beats.

The entire sequence of twelve beats is described directly below, with two additional beats tacked on to better show how the end of one cycle flows into the beginning of the next. After that are descriptions of the three different flight paths for the balls. Finally, some pre-exercises to work on are offered.

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Stagecraft: Creativity and Inspiration

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The art of juggling is at a crucial moment in it’s history. Like most art-forms, the internet is rapidly changing how it is learned, seen and understood. It will grow from here in one of two ways: It can become more like a competitive sport, where it will belong in the gym, or it can become a more expressive and creative movement, flowering on the stage. In this article, veteran performer Brad Weston shares his experiences and and talks to other well-known and creative performers where they seek inspiration for their work.

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2

Anthony Gatto Interview on Practicing

NOTE: While most articles on eJuggle are free to the public, this exclusive article is for IJA members only. If you're a member, log in on the side to read the full article. If you're not a member, read about the benefits of IJA membership in the About menu at the top of the page and join today!
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Here is a summary of the questions covered:
How do you structure your practice sessions?
How much time do you spend on each prop/trick?
Can you describe your warm-up theory?
What are important considerations about posture while juggling?
What do you think about when you practice?
What do you concentrate on more when doing combination tricks?
How relaxed versus concentrated are you when you practice?
What do you think about after you miss a trick?
What kinds of corrections do you find yourself making most?
You spoke a lot about your physical approaches. What about your mental attitude and preparations?
How much do you think about your practice sessions outside of practice?
Do you use visualization when you practice?
How strict are you with your practice sessions?
How has your practice style changed over the years?
Thank you so much for taking the time to share this information with us.

YOU MUST BE AN IJA MEMBER TO READ THE FULL INTERVIEW…

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This exclusive article is for IJA members only. Go to http://ezine.juggle.org/membership-options-page/ to join the IJA for this and other benefits.