EJC 2016 was in Almere, the Netherlands from July 30-August 7.
I managed to arrive in Amsterdam a day early, so after I settled into my hostel, I strolled around Nieuwmarkt and Dam square. The city is certainly like the stereotypes: cannabis wafting through the streets, drug-related gifts and paraphernalia in all the tourist shops, bicycles zipping everywhere, cheese shops, tulip and windmill souvenirs, and sex shops pervading. It was some experience, but I determined that I’m probably the biggest prude in Amsterdam.. I certainly loved the European architecture and the next morning before heading to Almere, I managed to go to the Van Gogh museum. Highly recommended – everything in the place is a masterpiece.
I arrived at the EJC site about 20 minutes after the official opening time on Saturday, but I was apparently later than around 1000 people. 3 hours in line was certainly a bad start to EJC, but luckily that was really the worst thing I have to say about the event. During the wait, I did see some old friends and meet some new ones. And luckily the weather was decent during the wait, and most people managed to set up tents before the rain.
Like last year, there were three gyms to choose from. Similarly, there were 2 shows simultaneously each night so you had to choose wisely.
The first night I went to see Les Objets Volants. Starring 5 performers and directed by the great Denis Paumier, the French troupe combined technical skill, artistic presentation, and clever antics. Their multi-person routines have tons of stage movement and their opening ball routine had the explosive feel of a fireworks display, with juggling from 3-8 balls. The club routine had each of them juggling different rhythms of singles and doubles offset until they eventually coalesced at the end for the final beats. They created some cool visual effects such as giving impressions of bubbles with rings and schools of fish with clubs. It was not the slow and new age French artistic style that I’ve seen so much of before. It was classy and beautiful, creative and technical, clever and funny.
On Sunday, buses took us to the parade in the city center. We made a spectacle that was fun for us and appreciated by the locals. At the end of the route, we got to the stage where the Gandini Project presented “Smashed.”
The show started with twenty or so middle-aged 1930s-styled characters juggling with apples and strutting melodramatically around the stage. They had various routines incorporating dancing and juggling and tightly timed interactions between them. There was a five apple endurance with one guy disrupting the others. The classy jugglers got more and more ridiculous throughout and at one point a talent competition went mad and ended with dishes crashing all around the stage. I enjoyed the character work and it was also fun to see a novel presentation by jugglers my age, so I could relate to it more than the more typical young hotties seen on other stages.
At the end of the day, I still hadn’t juggled. Sure, I had good intentions and had shlepped my props around for the past two days. Ok, I cascaded three clubs a bit in the parade, but this year I was more of a social butterfly, I guess.
Tonight the choice was between the flow show and the Open Stage. I sacrificed and skipped the flow…
Maarten Wils hosted the Open Stage. Regarding this show and others further below, I want to apologize in advance for name misspellings I might have. Also, sorry I wasn’t able to provide media for so many of the great performers, but I’m thankful for the photographers who allowed me to use their work.
First up was Ilja Smyslov from Germany. He did some classic 3 balls bouncing with up to 7 balls. It was a bit droppy in the middle, but had a solid ending with lots of wows.
Next up was Mieke Lizotte from Tasmania, Australia . She did handstands, contortion, and had a winning smile. Her forte is hooping with her feet while handstanding and executing other acrobatic poses.
Third we had Jim Chien from Taiwan. His novelty was having diabolo string attached to both ends of the handsticks, forming a rectangle, and he took full advantage of the creation. For example, he kept 2 diabolos going, each on a different string, and then he craftily folded the structure. He then worked with 1, 2 and 3 diabolos with lots of last second saves that the audience loved.
Magdellena and Maciek from Warsaw came on with some partner acrobatics. Their perfect bodies intertwined and balanced skillfully, but I felt they were trying too hard to be intense.
Armin from Berlin performed contact poi and release poi. He had lots of 3 poi juggling moves and then did fountain and swinging with 4 poi.
Sagi Bracha from Israel was up next with a 3 club routine. He had lots of variety with quick moves followed by slower manipulations, and lots of surprises throughout.
Kyoko from Japan used an invented prop of sticks with magnets that he was able to place end-on-end or in plus sign configurations. he would take them apart and rebuild them while doing various manipulations. His finale was 5 sticks.
Pati from Taiwan and Alexei from France/Belgium were up next. The 2 great diabolists did a lot of original tricks, sometimes sharing 1 set of handsticks, or even both sets of sticks stretched between the two.
Nicolas Longuechaud from Paris had a very clever illusion routine with a mirror hanging sideways down his chest while he juggled with one hand in profile so it looked like 2 hands in sync. Of course, his hidden hand was able to make for some impossible and very entertaining effects. Then he moved the mirror down below the waist which allowed his legs to do some precarious looking balances and other surprises. Hard to explain, but this was a very strong act.
For a finale, we had Christiaan van de Burgt from the Netherlands performing a high energy 3 club routine. He was relaxed and obviously having fun on stage. He worked his way up through 4, 5, and 6 clubs.
I still can’t believe I haven’t juggled. I didn’t mean to become the non-juggling type. Overheard years ago between some “jugglers:”
First: “I only juggled for one hour this whole convention.”
Second: “I didn’t even open my prop bag yet.”
Third: “I didn’t even bring my prop bag!”
Well, now I’m that guy.
I even missed Jay Gilligan’s show that I had planned to attend on Monday. But, I was having a fine shakshuka lunch with Paul Randall and friends from the UK, so I can’t complain.
In the evening, I opted for the Dutch Night show instead of the Open Stage. But, to see Jay Gilligan and Open Stage action, you can check out Luke Burrage’s photos.
The Dutch Night show was hosted by Gregor and the 0pening act was Dixie Wanner with diabolo. He had a nice start with multiple whips to speed up the diabolo. He did a cool genocide off a bounce and then went into some 2 diabolo suicides. His biggest applause was when he was using 3 and threw one out to a bounce and back in again.
Second was 10 year old Max who came on with a big grin and great stage presence. He worked up through 3-5 balls, then 1-2 diabolos, and finally 3 clubs with fast spins and then on a rola bola with a few nice tricks.
Next up was David doing rings with dazzling energy. He had tons of stage movement and big smiles and charisma. His 5 ring routine included a 5-up pirouette, pancakes, and flat fronts. Then he did 5 with a balance and a ring spinning on his leg, and he finished with 7 rings.
The fourth act was a hotel theme with 2 lazy porters and 1 customer. They performed club passing lines, triangles, and feeds, and the story ended with the guest becoming the porter.
Nikki Sneep-Snijders is an awesome devilsticker. She has amazing control of 2 sticks and did lots of different patterns and switches with 2.
Next up was some comedy baton twirling guys.
Pieter Visser is a 3 ball juggler with very long arms. He did full contortion and many unusual throws from all locations. Lucky for us, he put the video on youtube.
Niels Duinker did technical juggling while connecting to the audience with stand up comedy. He whizzed through 5 and 7 balls and his shaker cup routine which ended with 5 in one hand. He finished off with 5 and 7 clubs.
Guido did a slow motion routine with condom jellyfish things that added some change of pace, but might have gone on a bit too long for my taste.
Freddy Kenton was the strongest act of the night. He basically only executes tricks that are finale tricks: golf clubs and ball balance, Knife mouthstick with wine glass balanced on a balloon (and then popping out the balloon so the glass falls onto the blade), shooting a billiard ball up with a gun into a tall balance pole cup, building a multi-level wine cup balance on a violin bow mouthtick and then sliding a violin under to play a song, and his finale of wine pitcher perched on his head and pouring a glass of wine balanced on his mouthstick.
Rein de Kok opened with tricks with 3 hats and then moved up to performing hat manipulations on a slackrope, working from 1 up to 4 hats. His finale was unicycling on the slackrope.
Jeroen van der Lee came on and did a kitchen themed act. He did shaker cups, cigar boxes, and an 8 box balance. He also worked with 5 balls (fruit), 3 clubs (scallions), and plate spinning on long wobbly poles attached to the table. He did a brief throw of spoons into cups, and then 3 burning balls while wearing oven mitts.
Next was a comedy act with 2 Elvises in capes doing big cube manipulation.
The Finale was a ballerina and unicyclist doing many acro moves while rolling around. The finale had him riding while she stood precariously on his head.
One of the highlights of Tuesday was the Gandini “4×4” show comprised of 4 jugglers and 4 ballet dancers. The dancers gracefully leaped around through club passing patterns and feeds. It was certainly more about the dance and choreography than about the juggling. The routines had tons of stage movement and were well thought out. They filled the stage fully and sometimes had interactions with jugglers dancing or dancers juggling. Some routines had spoken word, mostly for rhythm. They worked with balls, clubs, rings, and dance, dance, dance. They got a standing ovation.
Tuesday night’s Open Stage was hosted by Richard Hartnell.
Laury Chanty and Kevin Arleri from France came on as conductors for Concerto Chromat. Their conducting magically triggered finger lights and strips of animated lights that changed with their hand movements. They ended with some great effects with graphic club swinging including the EJC 2016 logo.
Romen Klomp from Holland did 3 and 4 ball patterns and siteswaps
Markus Furtner from Munich, Germany came on with full attitude. He flipped 2 devilsticks like a madman, with tons of patterns and performing different styles based on the music: super fast to rock music, slower to classical, and more rhythmic energy to samba. A couple highlights were propellering one stick in one hand and then kicking up the second to a behind the back propeller in the other hand. His finale was a super fast crossed armed propeller constantly changing which arm was on top.
Next up was Nao from Japan doing diabolo. His moves were tightly choreographed to the beats of the music and had a solid and intense set with one and two diabolos and some excalibur. No drops.
Morten Kjaer from Denmark did contact poi. He did lots of bounces and a slick move of catching the knob of one in the loop of the other. He also had a nice juggle with 3 while doing arm rolls at the same time.
Brook Roberts from UK demonstrated some lithe juggling moves including full contortion (each arm crossed behind the back while juggling over his front) and Eric’s extension (extended?), and Mills Mess in half contortion. He ended with some awesome super quick sequences to shockingly fast music.
Matthias Goed from New Zealand comes from a circus family (Circus Aotearoa) and works with rola bola. While perched, he did an assortment of tricks including one where he bent over and pulled a ring up his body from back to front from his rear to his head/feet. He ended with a precarious 5 cylinder stack.
Shiho Suzuki from Japan started his club routine with lots of 3 club flourishes. He switched up to 5 and then 4 clubs and then back to 3 again. My favorite trick in the set was club hits into helicopters.
Kamo-zirushi is a Japanese group that works percussion with “asalato” instruments. These are small bean-filled gourds that are connected with strings so they can be manipulated and played. The group had a real nice effect of “throwing” around the rhythm so each person had a solo.
Ethan from Taiwan closed the show with his fantastic and mysterious effects full of mini genocides. He started with 3 in dozens of zippy patterns and then executed 4 with superb control. His 1 diabolo piece had a lot of work with released handsticks while manipulating from the string to make the sticks spin around and form trail streaks in the air. He did more of the same with 2 diabolos only faster and crazier than before. Ethan earned a standing ovation.
On Wednesday, the EJA meeting was held and the country reps were all voted in unanimously. There were exciting presentations for Lublin (EJC 2017) and Azores (EJC 2018). Big news was that EJC 2019 was voted on and will be held in Newark, UK.
In the evening, I elected to see the Open Stage instead of Jonglissimo’s QBS since I saw them earlier this year.
The Open Stage was emceed by Wrango.
Tom from France started with an experimental slow routine with a ball on his head. He did headrolls with abrupt movements. One cool trick was a backroll with a ball on his forehead (or was it in his eye socket?) He also nailed a kickup to top of head catch.
Anna Fisher from Tasmania, Australia had a great hoop act with lots of balances and spinning around all parts of her body. She was very solid and the audience loved it.
Next up was Stefan Bauer from Germany. He performed 2 diabolos with lots of tricks and then did 3 with a rocket start (all three placed on the ground static and yanked up into a start). He also did a long sequence of mini genocides and excaibur.
Gaia and Thura are 12 and 17 year old acrobats from Holland. They started with the younger one as base with lots of great poses. A really nice move had the little one sitting on the lying girl’s feet and with her feet on the other’s hands, and then she was suddenly risley thrown up to standing on the base’s soles of her feet to thunderous applause.
Sarah from France worked with balls while doing a lot of mime and dramatic movements. The act had many quick bursts of ball manipulations and a 5 ball run.
Shogun from Japan started with cane manipulation and moved up to tricks with 2 and 3. He did twirls and traps and rolls, as well as some moves that more resembled devilstick and also classical juggling.
Julius and Luca Pferdmenges from Germany performed as “One and a Half Men. Their expertise seemed to be starting with 2, 3, or 4 clubs and having 3, 2, or 1 more club thrown in to transition into a 5 club cascade. Those were interspersed with other skills like 8 ball flash, 6 club passing with tons of tricks, 7 club passing in a variety of patterns, and numbers passing with 8 and 9 clubs.
Nick from new Zealand performed cyr wheel. His breakdancing style included super fast spins in the wheel in all the classic moves and then some truly unexpected tricks the audience loved. He earned a standing ovation.
Devin from USA started his act by building a kind of chair from boards and then did some club swinging and manipulation with 3 clubs.
George Chao from Taiwan has a really unique diabolo style that has won him numerous competitions. He does fast and frequent whips to catch and lift and speed up the diabolos. He executes it sometimes with one hand and one diabolo or two hands and one diabolo or two hands and two diabolos. He even did it in excalibur orientation which was very cool. His finale consisted of 2 diabolos with double blind catches. Very fast and powerful act and a massive standing ovation. Here’s some footage of the first part:
Paddy and Harry came on next with dueling hat tricks. Their many classic moves quickly developed to some really sick combinations. They ended with a synced and shared hat routine.
Are you ready to rumble?!? Fight Night has been taken to a new level in recent years. This year had a major setup with special DJ and expanded lighting from above and below. Announced by Maarten Wils and commentated by Bob Carr, the event has the feel of a true sporting event. Prelims the day before narrowed the field from 98 down to the final 12 so we enjoyed quarterfinals, semifinals, and final round match-ups.
Aside from the usual high throws, hits, steals (often ending with one competitor juggling 4 clubs), and other tactics, there was some other wild stuff in the rounds. The highlight was certainly when Florian got his club trapped under Luke’s arm and after several yanks, his hand slipped off so Luke went into a 4 club fountain and stopped. Little did he know, that Florian had ripped off the trapped club’s knob and was still juggling it with his other two clubs, so after Luke stopped, Flo was the last one juggling! Watch the video (at 1:20): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C9qzDhiz5XI
The winner was 8 time EJC champion, Jochen Pfeiffer. See full results at on the Fight Night website (notice all the tabs full of info).
The Games were held on Thursday in the main gym. There were the classic technical endurance events with 5 balls, 7 balls, 5 clubs, handstand, and balance – all of which were made harder with tricks after around 30 seconds. There were also some fun games like zombie, diabolo toss into bicycle basket, and Simon says. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLT7d94rAxdyanLeIRvccL-jpybD4tS81w has videos of lots of the action.
During the games, I sat behind the president of the Eurpean Juggling Association, Philip Nicolai, and I offered to webmaster EJA.net. That got me invited to a nice picnic dinner for the EJA reps and officers. I missed out on the evening’s open stage because of it, but I got to meet all the people who work so hard for the juggling community.
On Friday, I caught one of the Cafe Cabaret stages. This is a venue for less polished acts to present their work in a low-pressure environment. Acts included Ziv “Captain Hoop” from Israel doing an energetic hula hoop routine; Carson from Germany working diabolo with extraordinarily long string in regular and excalibur orientations; Misty “The Pokemon Juggler” from Finland doing a lot of patterns and body moves with balls and clubs; Bob from UK (?) doing fast and complicated yo-yo work; Ellie Maria hooping while doing gymnastic moves; and Asaf Mor from Israel closing the show with a slick 3 club act that earned him a standing ovation.
I arrived late to Friday’s Open Stage, as a pirate-themed acro act was finishing up.
Next I saw Mia and Marina from Berlin doing fast-paced rope skipping. I don’t know how to describe the many moves, but it was full of variety and great speed.
Jacob from Team Lublin came on and skillfully manipulated two figure eights with nice isolations and illusions.
Luke Burrage from UK hadn’t been on the EJC stage for quite a while and he came to debut a new club routine. He started with 2 manipulated to the music rhythm and did some difficult squeeze catches. He did 3 in a variety of patterns timed tightly with the music before ending with 4 and 5 clubs.
Aron from Taiwan started his diabolo routine with excalibur around his arms and then jammed his routine with 2 diabolos. He finished with a quick wrappy style reminiscent of yo-yo competitions.
Friday night after midnight saw some of the Israeli crew going for 5 ball endurance records. We couldn’t find information online about an official witnessed record, but think it was somewhere in the 1 hour 15 minute range. 13 year old Liri Kamai fell out after a couple minutes, but 14 year old Adam Aluma nearly doubled his personal best with over 17 minutes. Eyal Bor (Mexican/Israeli) has a beautiful relaxed pattern and held on for an hour and a half, but Ofek Snir crushed with a crazy 2 hours 41 minutes 27 seconds (Ofek counted over 40,000 catches in the run). The whole run was streamed live online and on-screen in various places at EJC, as well as being witnessed by dozens of fans.
Most things get boring repeated over a long time, but this just got better and better, and I was happy to witness it Live.
Ofek juggles Norwik Juggling’s Russian balls so owner Kristian Wanvik celebrated by offering happy hour 2 for 1 prices on the winning ball brand.
BTW, Ofek had other records/personal bests earlier that night with 7 ball isolated (not moving his feet) endurance for 11:17 and 9 balls for 159 catches.
Another marathon event going on that night was Rumpel’s 24 hour show. I walked in a couple times, but didn’t manage to see much hilarity, but that didn’t seem to stop him or a constant flow of spectators.
Saturday was the last full day of EJC and I participated in my first workshop. I actually co-hosted swuggling (swimming and juggling) with my friend, Shachar. The main skill is swimming on your back and juggling overhead but we also did underwater juggling and swimming while club balancing. Here’s a short video: https://www.facebook.com/sha.speevers/posts/10154482005713453?ref=notif¬if_t=tagged_with_story¬if_id=1471841672045226
I attended the third and final showing of the Gala, which was held on Saturday night. If you want to see photos for the Open Stage I missed, check out Luke Burrage’s blog photos.
Emcee Guillermo had a likable character and kept the energy high and the pace of the show flowing.
First up was Marco Bonisimo along with Maarten van Luit and Jasmijn Janssen doing a great soccer ball routine. While Marco did classic large ball juggling with 3-5 balls, the other two jammed with foot juggling. Aside from the classic wild kicking, they pulled off impossible stalls on the soles of their feet, often blind behind them or even held high vertically over their heads. Yasmin did some work on her back in antipodism style with a clever drop down to head bounce back into her foot kicking. Martin had a trick where he started in neck catch position and rolled into a handstand with the ball stalled on the bottom of his feet. He then proceeded to do two foot antipodism moves while in full handstand. Here’s a video: https://www.facebook.com/marco.bonisimo/posts/10210287448451872
Emil Dahl from Sweden performed his sweet “Magnet Opus” routine with magnetic clubs developed by Ameron Rosvall. He connects and disconnects the clubs and also attaches and spins them on poles arranged around the stage (vertical, horizontal, and diagonal). My favorite tricks were his collecting spinning and swinging clubs on the various poles into 5 club juggling.
Next up was Dominatrix Fred (female) and her submissive partner, Bert. Fred came on wielding a knife and attached the blade to a string that got pulled up to the ceiling. Below, a very stupid man lay beneath it with a balloon between his legs. The knife dropped and apparently didn’t slice off any fleshy bits (I’m not sure because my eyes were firmly shut).
A real treat was gentleman juggler, Jeton, doing his class act. I’ll just rattle of his awesome tricks… He flipped a coin from his cane to a monocle position. He kicked up his hat to a balance on a cigar. I’d never seen the Salerno frame slide live before and Jeton’s execution with a huge mirror was indeed spectacular and earned him roaring applause. He did a 3 ball routine with lots of funny faces and style and headrolls. He balance a pool cue on his face with another perpendicular on top with a billiard ball on it; he let the ball drop and then the top cue came down and landed in a balance on his face. He kicked up cups and sauces to the top of his head, ending with a sugar cube and spoon into the cup. Of course he got a standing ovation.
The sadistic couple returned to the stage, this time with a hammer that Fred attached to a string to the ceiling. Foolish Bert stood by with an apple on his head. She swung the hammer like a pendulum which knocked the apple off him.
Alexandra Savina from Ukraine was probably the best juggler I saw in the gym during the week and her act didn’t disappoint. She juggled hoops, both large (bigger than normal rings) and huge (hula-sized). With the large ones she did 5 with pancakes and also worked with 7 and 9. She also balanced a huge hoop on her face and showered 3 large hoops through it. She did a combination while hula hooping around one knee and another on her foot held behind her, while the balancing one on her face and juggling 5 more. She also had a nice run of cascading 7 huge hula hoops. Wow!
ArjArjan Groenendijk from Holland did a diabolo act with many string whips and a silky smooth style.
Now for a segue whip act by Bert and Fred. Bert held a cucumber in front of his groin so Fred could whip it in half. Whew!
Israelis Ron Beeri and Itamar Glucksmann now live in Sweden and France, respectively. The juggling/acro-dancer duo have lots of skills and clever interactions. Their trademark trick is when Ron juggles three clubs and Itamar walks right through the pattern. The routine had lots of energy and stage movement and earned them a standing ovation.
Bert and Fred returned, this time to do a trapeze act, while swinging forward and back. They had cool poses and of course an element of danger as she dropped darts down on a dartboard on the top of his head.
The finale was a whirlwind of props as the Teslenko Family (3 men and 1 woman) filled the stage. The started with rings, doing 16 in a variety of line patterns. They had a should stand feed and also did a great series of 5 ring dropbacks and steals. They had a brief run of 10 back-to-back and then did a Y feed of 20 rings. Moving on to clubs, they did 6 club passing with constant leap frog steals. Many of the numbers juggling was just a blur to me, but I think they did 10 between two passers and either 18 or 20 in a line of all 4 of them. For their finale, they frisbee threw 22 rings quickly as one of them collected the fast stream to pulldowns.
Overall, a ton of variety and a very solid show to finish off the convention.
The last thing I’d like to do is call out one country that I felt like had a lot of influence at EJC. Last year I mentioned Japan and before that it was Norway. This year was close because the Taiwanese diaboloists rocked nearly every open stage. But, I’m probably biased here, and choose Israel. Israelis were on quite a few stages and Ron and Itamar were smoking hot in the Gala. Israeli jugglers did well in the games: first in 5 ball endurance and unicycle combat, and second place in 7 balls and wheelbarrow hand-walking while siamese juggling. Ofek Snir’s practicing in the gym for many hours each day was inspirational to many. Overall a record 80-something Israeli jugglers attended EJC this year and had a lot of impact. Even as I reluctantly left the site on Sunday, the last thing I saw was Ofek starting his day’s 4-5 hour practice session…
Many photos in this article are courtesy of Luke Burrage. See http://www.lukeburrage.com/blog/archives/2348 for many more, including for quite a few shows and events I was unable to attend.
More nice photos used by permission of Paweł Rosiak. See https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000821583565&sk=photos&collection_token=100000821583565%3A2305272732%3A69&set=a.1078955005475209.1073741880.100000821583565&type=3 for more.
Jonas Klemm from Third Eye Generations provided some photos for this article. See also https://www.facebook.com/third.eye.generations/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1151146928291979 for more of his work.
EJC TV documented lots of everything in video. Check it out: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1754467031500822/
Further, there is the EJC Photo Sharing facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1754467031500822/