IJA eNewsletter, January 2016

Editors: Don Lewis and Martin Frost


Happy New Year!


  • Chair’s message
  • Open board position (Feb to July) – call for interest
  • Board nominations open
  • Festival Updates: pricing, registration opens March 1, some special guests
  • 2016 IJA Festival in El Paso, Texas, July 25-31 – hotel information
  • Patience and pick-ups in passing
  • ARTE: Three shows to watch
  • 2016 Championships: Big prize money, April 1 entry deadline — getting closer!
  • News from the Mobile Mini Circus for Children
  • 2013 Fest DVD 2-Pack available from the new IJA Store
  • Latest articles in eJuggle
  • Upcoming juggling festivals

Chair’s message,
by Nathan Wakefield

A new year is upon us, and we’ve got some great things coming up for 2016! 
We already have nearly the full year’s lineup solid for our highly successful Tricks of the Month videos. There are some great contributors slated for this year.  On top of that, we’ve started a new video series to complement our Tricks of the Month, where each contributor is profiled in a video interview.

At our last Board Meeting, we approved new International Representatives. Jorge Vilchis is our new Mexico Representative, Gino Crovetto Pellegrin is our Peru Representative, Santi Durango is our Colombia Representative, and Geovanni Zamora Granados is our Central America Representative.

In other IJA political news, Warren Hammond has resigned from the IJA Board of Directors.  We wish Warren all the best in his future endeavors. 
Since the new year, we’ve kicked our 2016 festival preparations into high gear.  Our Facebook event page is now live! Expect major announcements, including more special guests (beyond those listed below) in the coming weeks.

Juggle on,
Nathan Wakefield
IJA Chairman

Open board position (Feb to July) – call for interest, by Don Lewis


Board member Warren Hammond has resigned his seat before the end of his term.  The IJA bylaws allow the IJA Board to appoint a member in good standing to the Board to serve the remaining term, which ends in July 2016.  If you are interested in helping the Board for a few months, please contact Nathan Wakefield.  You could fill this temporary position and/or also be nominated for a regular Board position in the upcoming election.

Board nominations open, by Martin Frost


Want to help steer the IJA?  Got some good ideas for what the IJA should (or should not!) do?  Run for the IJA Board, or if you think you know someone who would be a good Board member, talk to them about running. 
The current volunteer directors on the IJA Board are working hard to keep the IJA alive and vibrant.  Each year the IJA needs new volunteers to join the Board and help decide the directions the IJA will go.  About half of the seven Board seats are up for election each summer for a two-year term.  You help out for two years and then you can relax and let someone else step up if you want to.  Or, you could offer to run again.  The best person to nominate may be staring at you in the mirror.  Serving on the Board can be very rewarding.  Submit a nomination to ijanominations@juggle.org by the May 15th deadline.  Email that same address if you have any questions about serving on the Board.  For more details, see: https://juggle.org/business/nominations.


There are lots of things happening to prove that the IJA is still relevant. Help promote the IJA and build on a legacy of success. Get on Board!


2016 IJA Festival in El Paso, Texas, July 25-31by Jim Maxwell


EL PASO UPDATES: pricing, registration opens March 1, some special guests

The 69th IJA Festival in El Paso is quickly taking shape to be one of epic proportions. Not only do we have historic prize money on the line for the IJA stage championship (thanks to our generous friends, iiWii and Unna Med), but we also have an incredible show lineup in the works.

Festival registration opens on March 1, with Early Bird pricing available only through March 14, so plan on registering in early March!

Event Package purchase date
March 1-14Mar 15-Jun 30At the fest
Adult (age 18-64)$199$239$259
Youth/Senior (11-17, 65+)$139$189$219

All your favorite events are back: XJuggling, Renegade, Numbers Championships, Joggling, plus the return of Gauntlet. Other events are still in the works, so stay tuned to the website and next month’s eNewsletter.  Festival information is available at https://juggle.org/festival, with more details to come.

Reminder: We have negotiated special IJA rates for three top-tier hotels in the downtown area of El Paso — all within easy minutes walk of the beautiful El Paso Convention Center.  Make your reservations today — see hotel info below.


We’re thrilled to announce that Emil Dahl will perform his ground-breaking Magnet Opus in the IJA Cascade of Stars gala, as well as offer a two-day special workshop. Also slated to perform during the week: Braulio Lopez, Jorge Vilchis, Gabriel Estrada, Fernanda Sumano, Rootberry and Kelsey Strauch.  Of those, the first four are are gold or silver medalists from the 2011-2015 IJA Regional Competitions (IRC) in Mexico and Central America.  More guests will be announced soon.

Among our emcees for shows and championships are Dan Holzman, Bekah SmithThe KamiKaze FireFlies, and Scotty Meltzer & Katrine Spang-Hanssen.

Emil Dahl of Sweden
Performs his ground-breaking Magnet Opus in the IJA Cascade of Stars Gala


The KamiKaze FireFlies
Cascade of Stars Emcees
Fernanda Sumano
2011 IRC Mexico Gold Medalist


Bekah Smith
Juniors Championships Emcee
Braulio Lopez
2015 IRC Mexico Gold Medalist
Dan Holzman
Welcome Show Emcee


Jorge Vilchis
2013 IRC Mexico Silver Medalist
Kelsey Strauch
Welcome Show Performer


Gabriel Estrada
2015 IRC Central America Gold Medalist
Scotty Meltzer & Katrine Spang-Hanssen
Individuals and Teams Championships Emcees


2016 IJA Festival in El Paso, Texas, July 25-31- hotel information

Our three El Paso hotels are taking IJA room reservations for next summer at IJA rates.  Go to the IJA festival website, move your mouse over Festival and click on Lodging to see all the details.

See this hotel information grid for a summary of all three official IJA festival hotel options in downtown El Paso.

Camino Real Hotel El Paso – $89.00 + tax
DoubleTree El Paso Downtown – $95.00 + tax
Holiday Inn Express El Paso Central – $89.00 + tax

Patience and pick-ups in passing, by Don Lewis

The recent tenth year anniversary TurboFest in Quebec City was a great opportunity to see some impressive juggling on the gym floor and amazing work on stage.  The Water on Mars show was a triumph of making the nearly impossible look easy, or at least possible.  I’ve been fortunate to have attended all ten TurboFests.  It is a great way to start a new year.

There is plenty to see and do on the gym floor at any festival.  Workshops help demystify those tricks that look impossible and bring them a little closer to your reality.  One thing that we have all done at some point is struggle with the basics.  It can be pretty intimidating getting out on the gym floor and doggedly trying to master the cascade while everyone around you is doing amazing things.  If you can spot those people and patiently spend a few minutes helping them over the rough spots, you’ll see amazing progress happen very quickly.

I was fortunate to be able to work with a couple of people at the festival that were just getting their club juggling under control and had already tried some tentative passing.  Two or three passes of four-count was about as much as they could manage before dropping everything but their enthusiasm.  At this point, there is some value to taking a step backward and trying to install 3-count passing before they get too right-centric.  But, in the reality of a festival, that is probably just going to introduce too much frustration.  They want quick progress, and they are already on the 4-count path.  If you invest an hour in just standing there and working on some basic skills, you will see impressive progress.  An hour is about as much as a beginner can stand before they get tired.  Tired jugglers practice mistakes, so watch carefully and quit on a success.  Even if they say they aren’t tired, you probably are, so take a break.  If things have gone well, I usually like to try at least a few minutes of 3-count, just to prove to them that it is possible.  Since 3-count is a more balanced pattern, they often get the rhythm pretty quickly – even though the left hand passes may be a bit wonky for a while.

I was quietly practicing chops as a warm-up off in a corner of the gym.  When I paused to pick up a few errant clubs, a shy juggler who had been watching asked how I was able to do chops.  So I explained how the trick worked and saw a look of mystification.  Turns out that she had a more or less stable cascade and no tricks yet.  Chops is not the place to start.  As she turned away, having gotten a discouraging answer, I asked if she had done any passing yet.  Apparently she had just started but thought she wasn’t good enough to pass with me.  So I said, “OK, lets have a go.”  Sure enough, after two passes her self throws were anywhere but where she was.  

This is a great place to start!  They can almost feel how it is supposed to work.  They’re ready to learn, but a bit embarrassed at “wasting” your time.  It isn’t a waste at all.  Lots of people were patient with me when I was learning.  It’s a pleasure to pay that forward.  And it seems to un-guilt the student to tell them that they’re helping me pay off my “beginner’s debt”.

The first thing is to just get warmed up.  The first few passes with anyone can take a bit of getting used to, even when they’re good.  At this point they can’t really correct bad throws or adapt to different rhythms, so it is important to put the passes right into their hand on their beat.  Watch carefully, because they probably are not watching anything but their own clubs.  Wild throws are part of the game so be ready to duck and turn away from club explosions.  Watch how they catch the pass, where the self throw ends up, and what their arm does when they pass.  

Typically you’ll see catching hands out of position, too narrow self throws, and passing clubs pitched with the wrist at the last possible instant.  Spend a couple of minutes just passing.  Chances are they’ll settle down and you’ll get runs of up to a dozen passes before it all falls apart.  At this point, switch to a three club chase using their clubs.  Work slowly on this because this is your best chance to establish the fundamental movements.  I’ve described how this exercise works before so I won’t repeat all that again.  You want this exercise to get three things to happen automatically.  The first is to get the catching hand to move smoothly up from the self throw into the catching position and then continue on down to the self throw again.  It is a circular movement with a smooth rhythm, no jerky starts and stops once you get going.  The second is to get the self throw reliably up and into the other hand, far enough across the pattern so that there is room to make a pass.  The third is to make a smooth relaxed pass to the other person and get the hand back in place in time to catch the self throw.  Work on getting them to catch their self throw somewhere around the middle of the handle and throw from there.  A lot of people try to catch and throw from the end of the handle, because that’s what they think the rest of us are doing.  If you’re aiming for the end of the club and miss, there is nothing left to catch.  And, throwing from the end of the handle just makes it easier to over spin the club.  Get them to use their whole arm to throw the pass and their hand will already be in the right position to catch the self throw.  Keep at this until things smooth out, which usually happens after about five to ten minutes.

If you watch experienced club jugglers carefully, they mostly catch about the middle of the handle where it is flexible, and then let the club slide through their hand down to the knob as they move into the throwing position. Clearly this is fine.  It works well.  It is almost instinctive as you become confident with club juggling, and is essential for many trick throws.  The only reason I try to get beginners to throw from a bit higher on the handle is that it seems to encourage them to throw with the whole arm, and not add extra spin from the wrist.  A thing to watch out for is the student who gets out of sync and tries to save the pattern by pitching a club at the last possible instant.  The lower their hand is on the club the more spin they can crank on with their wrist.  It is like dodging a spinning saw blade on the receiving side!  

Go back to 4-count passing with all six clubs.  After a brief bit of confusion you will see much longer runs between drops.  Now the trick is to keep the rhythm going through the drops. Beginners know that it is possible to pick up and keep juggling.  They see others doing it.  But they’re usually so busy that they can’t see any holes in the pattern that might give them enough time to do it. For some reason, they usually try to juggle the remaining clubs faster, and often try to pass on every beat as a sort of demented 2-count.

Once you’ve dropped a club in a passing pattern, you don’t have to juggle anything.  You just have to throw your partner a club on the passing beat and catch the one coming to you.  In 4-count passing, that means that you have three beats where you don’t have to do anything.  There is no law that says you have to pick up and get back to juggling by the very next passing beat. You just have to keep passing a club on the beat.  So, tell your student to relax.  They pass a club, and then can spend the next three beats looking around the floor to see where their stuff is before having to pass again.  If they have two clubs left, you’ll often see them try to throw a pass and a self at the same time in a sort of panic.  Even if they have no clubs left, you can still throw a pass and just wait for them to throw it to themselves as a self and then pass it out on the beat.  Once they learn to relax, they usually get back in the game pretty quickly.  

When they are not juggling, their only obligation is to pass a club to you.  It doesn’t matter which hand they pass from.  It is perfectly permissible to pass diagonally from the left hand and then catch an incoming pass with that same left hand while the right hand is off looking for clubs.  Picking up is part of juggling.  It is more important to keep track of the beat than it is to pick up the clubs.  Clubs on the floor generally wait patiently to be picked up.  There’s no rush.  Eventually they’ll have a successful pick-up and almost immediately lose another self throw because they started juggling too quickly.  Just keep juggling and passing a club on the beat.  Remind them to relax and breathe occasionally.  Once they learn to concentrate on the beat, the pick-up will begin to feel instinctive.

I’ve often met beginners that I passed with at a festival the previous year who are already beyond the basic passing that I do by the next festival.  Now that was time well invested!


ARTE: Three shows to watch, by Don Lewis

ARTE is an Internet European arts channel which was initially aimed at the French and German markets.  Recently English has been added as a language option as well.  Right now there are three shows of particular interest.  

Note: The first time you go to one of the ARTE videos below, you may see a pop-up window that asks you to confirm your default language.  Upon confirming, you’ll be taken to the ARTE home page, not the video.  At that point, just click on the original video link below again and you should get there directly since you’ve already set your default language.

The first is a collaboration between the dance group Kafig and the Acadamie Fratelli titled Wasteland.  This piece was originally performed as pure dance in 2006.  It is a sort of French re-make of West Side Story for dance.  This new version features four dancers from Kafig, and eight acrobats from Fratelli.  You might say it is hip-hop gone vertical.  There is no juggling, but it is still fascinating to watch, if only to see the transitions from dance to acrobatics and back, in a very modern hip-hop mode.

The second treat is the best of the 36th Cirque de Demain from Paris, hosted by Calixte de Nigremont who is the very definition of stage presence. There is some very interesting juggling in this show. You’ll see precise Russian style juggling, a very smooth hoop routine, and an intriguing act where the juggler creates his own props from a lump of clay.  And there are some pretty amazing circus acts as well.

The third show to watch is the Cirque de Soleil’s 30th anniversary concert.  This one is only available until mid March.

ARTE also has a huge number of music concerts recorded live at assorted music festivals across Europe.  There is everything from classical to heavy metal, including opera both modern and classic. Some shows are regionally restricted, but a vast number are not.  Curiously, most of the circus related shows are to be found under the Concert header, within the dance category.


2016 Championships: Big prize money, April 1 entry deadline — getting closer!

There’s going to be a lot more prize money given out to the Championships medalists at the 2016 IJA fest in El Paso, thanks to generous support from anonymous donors iiWii and Unna Med.  Over $35,000 will be on the line!  That includes $10,000 for the IJA Individuals gold medalist and $10,000 for the winning IJA Team!

Start working on your routine!  The deadline for entering the Championships, including submitting a video of your full act, is April 1, 2016.  That’s a bit earlier than in the past, so don’t let it sneak up on you.

For complete information, go to https://juggle.org/championships.

News from the Mobile Mini Circus for Children

The IJA is proud to support the Mobile Mini Circus for Children (MMCC), an Afghan-International non-profit organization that uses the medium of juggling and circus arts to help children traumatized by war to heal, build self-esteem and hope, and to express themselves.  We recently received a newsletter update about current MMCC activities which you can read by clicking on the link. They have had a challenging year, but they are still working hard to give children hope and happiness.  To donate to this program, send a check to the IJA with MMCC written on the check or use your credit card to donate via the IJA website.

2013 Fest DVD 2-Pack available from the new IJA Store

The 2013 IJA Festival DVD 2-Pack is available for purchase, from the new IJA Store.  The price is $30 for members ($40 for non-members).  To get the member price, sign in at ym.juggle.org.  Once you are signed in, go to:


We have DVDs for sale from the IJA fests in: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2013.  Each year includes two DVDs and roughly two hours of video.

2013 IJA fest DVD cover 


eJuggle logo

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Upcoming juggling festivals

For a list of even more festivals, check the worldwide juggling event listings on our website at: www.juggle.org/events.

If you’re organizing a juggling festival (or if you simply know of a juggling fest) and you want to advertise it in the IJA eNewsletter, just drop a note to eNewsletter editor Don Lewis enews@juggle.org. Such listings are free.

The eNewsletter generally comes out near the end of each month. Your festival can be listed for a few months, and you don’t have to be an IJA affiliate to have a fest listed. Hey, jugglers want to know about juggling fests. Help them out and get more jugglers to your fest at the same time.

17ª Convenção Brasileira de Malabarismo e Circo
    27 Jan – 31 Jan 2016
    Barbacena, Minas Gerais Brazil

Atlanta Groundhog Day Jugglers’ Festival
    5 Feb – 7 Feb 2016
    Yaarab Shrine Center, Atlanta GA.

JuggleMIT 2016
6 Feb – 7 Feb 2016
    Cambridge, MA  USA

Belfast Juggling Convention 2016
    12 Feb – 14 Feb 2016
    Queen’s University Students’ Union, University Road, Belfast, BT7 1NF UK

Brno Juggling Convention 2016
12 Feb – 14 Feb 2016
    Masarykova Univerzita – Fakulta Sportovnich Studii, Budova A34, Kamenice 735/5, 617 00 Brno Czech Republic (Česká republika)

Mondo Juggling & Unicycle Festival
    12 Feb – 14 Feb 2016
    275 Syndicate Street, St. Paul, Minnesota USA

Bath UpChuck 2016
    20 Feb – 20 Feb 2016
    Founders Sports Hall, University of Bath, Bath, BA2 7AY UK

Austin Jugglefest XXIII
    26 Feb – 28 Feb 2016
    Seeger Gymnasium, Texas School for the Deaf, 1102 S. Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704, USA

University of Waterloo Juggling Festival 2016
    26 Feb – 28 Feb 2016
    University of Waterloo, 200 University Avenue West, Waterloo, Ontario N2L 3G1 Canada

Winter Juggling Convention 2016
    26 Feb – 28 Feb 2016
    Gravin van Schönbornlaan 4 6431 Hoensbroek Netherlands

New Zealand Juggling and Circus Festival 2016
    4 Mar – 7 Mar 2016
    Parakai Springs, 150 Parkhurst Road, Parakai, New Zealand 0830 New Zealand

British Juggling Convention 2016
    30 Mar – 4 Apr 2016
    Bell’s Sport Centre, Hay St, Perth, PH1 5HS UK

UCSCJC – 2016 UC Santa Cruz Juggling Convention
    22 Apr – 24 Apr 2016
    Santa Cruz, California USA

26th Dutch Juggling Convention
    5 May – 8 May 2016
    Arnhem Netherlands

69th Annual IJA Juggling Festival 2016 – El Paso
    25 Jul – 31 Jul 2016
    El Paso Convention Center, El Paso, Texas USA

39th European Juggling Convention, Almere, Netherlands
    30 Jul – 7 Aug 2016
    Topsportcentrum Almere Pierre de Coubertinlaan 7, Almere, Netherlands

2ª Convenção Caipira de Malabarismo e Circo
    7 Sep – 11 Sep 2016
    R. Daniel Antônio de Freitas, 115 – Distrito Industrial, São José do Rio Preto – SP Brazil