IJA eNewsletter – March 2020

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   IJA eNewsletter   

March 2020

Editors: Don Lewis & Martin Frost


  • A message from the IJA Chair
  • IJA 2020 Festival canceled, refunds available
  • 2019 IJA fest video now available on DVD, or free for members on eJuggle
  • Henry Benton, IJA videographer, dies at 48
  • Disinfecting your props
  • Juggling dynamics, a paper in Physics Today
  • Latest articles in eJuggle
  • Upcoming juggling festivals



A message from the IJA Chair  by Mike Moore

Mike Moore

I couldn’t be prouder to be a juggler.

With the spread of COVID-19, juggling clubs and festivals around the world have been forced to enter a hiatus.  But from those slumbering events have emerged a myriad of ways for jugglers to socialize, compete, and share.

For the past two Saturdays, the Scandanavian crew (Julian Sæther, Johan Ahlin, Iver Tronstad, Lauge Benjaminsen, Tobias Pedersen, Haavard Hvidsten, and Børre L’orange) have hosted the Cyber Juggling Convention.  This is where loads of jugglers from all over the world have come together via Zoom (group video chat software — see the deliberately blurred picture below) and have had a great time!  It included shows from world-class performers, David Cain showing historical juggling props, mini workshops, dramatic readings of IJA eJuggle articles, and endurance competitions.  A huge thanks to all the hosts and attendees!  These are planned to be weekly events; search for “Cyber Juggling Convention” on Facebook to find details on how to attend.

Asynchronous sharing has been hopping, too.  So many Instagram clips have been shared, and featured, with the hashtag #isolatricks.  The skill and diversity of these clips is astounding and inspiring.

Moving forward, further online innovations are inevitable.  The IJA is working hard to bring the spirit of this year’s annual festival to your living room (or practice space), featuring many of your favorite events.  Yes, even (especially!) joggling.  If you have any particular requests or ideas, I’d love to hear them — send an email to moore@juggle.org and let’s make it happen.

Mike Moore

IJA Chair



IJA 2020 Festival canceled, refunds available

It is with the heaviest of hearts that the Festival Director team and the IJA Board of Directors must announce the cancellation of the 2020 IJA Festival in El Paso, Texas, due to the pandemic impacting the world.

This decision was not reached lightly, but it is in the best interest of the health and well being of our festival community as well as the communities in El Paso and beyond. We understand that this is a large loss for everyone from our community interaction, those hoping to compete, and performers all over the world. We truly value our juggling community and their ability to remain an active community no matter the circumstances.

Refund information has been emailed to all who registered for the IJA 2020 El Paso festival.

While we cannot have the festival in person, we will be doing everything we can to bring the festival fun to you online. We’ll have more information on that soon — feel free to reach out with ideas!

All the best,

The IJA Festival Director Team and the IJA Board of Directors


2019 IJA fest video now available on DVD, or free for members on eJuggle

The official video of the 72nd Annual IJA Festival is now available via a two-disc DVD set! Relive all the excitement that our 2019 festival in Fort Wayne, IN, had to offer with this two-disc set, including full stage competition routines and highlights of the activities that took place during the week. The set can be purchased in the IJA store. The cost is $30 for IJA members and $40 for non-members.

The full fest video is also available now as online streaming content free for IJA members on eJuggle.  With the 2020 IJA fest canceled, we hope you’ll enjoy revisiting the 2019 festival.

2019 IJA Festival Video Part 1

2019 IJA Festival Video Part 2

2019 IJA Festival Video Part 3

2019 IJA Festival Video Part 4







Henry Benton, IJA videographer, dies at 48  by Christian Kloc

The juggling community recently lost a man who vibrantly captured our festivals on video for more than a decade. Henry Benton passed away on March 14th at the age of 48, his mother Kathie Benton has confirmed. The cause was a non-smoker’s type of lung cancer. 

Henry was a longtime member of the IJA and served as an official videographer for the IJA festival from 2008 to 2019.


Jugglers recalled Henry as a “behind-the-scenes enabler of the community,” a “very gentle soul” and a “quiet man with the ability to notice a lot about other people.” His generous volunteer work allowed us to relive our best festival moments, from breathtaking stage acts to silly games in the gym. Henry also attended and documented local festivals, including Philly Fest, the Congress of Jugglers, and the Not Quite Pittsburgh Juggling Festival. He often shared with festival attendees his collection of puzzles — including a dizzying array of Rubik’s cubes — and his “big screen,” a curved rectangular surface which allowed him to create mesmerizing patterns with rolled silicone balls. See the big screen in action at six different festivals in this video on Henry’s YouTube channel.

A full article honoring Henry, featuring tributes from the juggling community and more details about the life he lived, will be published on eJuggle in the next couple of weeks. Those wishing to express their condolences or share a memory may do so on his memorial page, or send their thoughts to ctkloc@gmail.com to be included in the upcoming article.



Disinfecting your props  by Don Lewis

As you know, the COVID-19 virus is disrupting the entire world.  The most important thing at the moment is to avoid overwhelming the health care system.  The basic message is “Don’t everyone get sick at once”.  It does not seem as if anyone is naturally immune so the only way to avoid the virus is to avoid people.  Self isolation is the cheapest way to ensure that you are not exposed.  Stay out of crowds.  And avoid contact with others.  You may be confident that your friends are safe to hang with, but somewhere along the chain of their other friends there may be someone who isn’t symptomatic (yet) even though they’ve been exposed.  This virus spreads like ink in water, so be careful.

If no one else has been handling your props, then they are safe enough just as they are.  If someone in the park has been coughing near your open prop bag, you might want to take some basic precautions.  If you’ve been passing clubs with someone and you don’t know where else their hands have been recently (how would you?), then you want to be careful.  Some anonymous little kid digging through your prop bag behind you while you juggle?  Big red flag.

The first thing to do is wash your hands with soap and water for at least half a minute.  It does not matter what type of soap.  Disinfectant soap is no better than any other type.  The important thing is to rub up a good lather and rub all the surfaces of your hands, then rinse under running water.  This mechanically removes any virus trying to hang on.  Don’t touch your face, rub your eyes, pick your nose, or suck your thumb.  The virus on the tip of your finger is just waiting for you to take it somewhere dark and moist where it can reproduce.  Likewise, if you happened to breathe in a dust particle with a bit of virus on it, you would probably just blow it back out again, unless you push it deeper with a questing finger.  Keep your hands away from your face unless you are washing it.

Soap and water will work just fine on many of your props, too.  Really, you only have to clean the surfaces.  The odds of virus particles hiding at the center of your expensive beanbags is pretty low.  Some beanbags are filled with millet or other seed, so if you give them a soak in sudsy water they might sprout or go moldy and reek.  Likewise some clubs with wooden dowels and wrapped handles won’t do well if you plunge them underwater or give them a good soak and rinse.  Wipe them off with a clean soapy cloth, then rinse the soap off with another clean cloth dipped in water. 

What about hand sanitizer, is that good?  At this point in the pandemic the first trick would be to find any.  Hand sanitizer can have many things mixed in it to make your hands feel good or smell fancy, but the active ingredient is usually ethyl alcohol denatured with something so it isn’t drinkable.  Some of the plastics used to make props may melt or degrade if you subject them to alcohol.  Same problem with disinfectant style wipes.  You might wipe off your glossy new vinyl stage ball only to discover that you now have a matte surface stage ball.  So, can you use hand sanitizer on your hands and then juggle?  Yes, as long as you let the stuff dry first.  Considering that the stuff is about 70% alcohol, it dries pretty fast.  Lysol and other disinfectant sprays can be effective, but you need to test a surface before spraying with reckless enthusiasm.  I once saw a person spray a beanbag made from bright shiny cloth, only to watch the shiny coating dissolve. 

If you have a high intensity ultraviolet light, you could expose your props to that.  You risk damaging your eyesight if you do that without some serious sunglasses.  That really isn’t an option outside a lab.  The black light you use on your glow props likely isn’t anywhere near strong enough to matter.

Social distancing means staying away from people.  Passing clubs from a “safe” distance is just not a good idea right now, even if you do clean the props afterwards.

Soap and water works on most things, and most especially on hands.  Now that you have cleaned your props, WASH YOUR HANDS!



[Editor’s note: The following extract is from a Physics Today paper co-written by IJA juggler Jonah Botvinick-Greenhouse. Follow the link below to see the full article.]

Juggling dynamics  a paper by Jonah Botvinick-Greenhouse and Troy Shinbrot

With complex throwing patterns of multiple objects, jugglers seemingly defy human limits of reaction time and throwing accuracy.

In 1993 Claude Shannon, founder of information theory, wrote a popular analysis of juggling, and he even accompanied the article with a working model of a juggling robot. Building such a robot – in fact, juggling at all – is remarkable, because it seems to require faster reaction times than most of us can muster. Speed jugglers can achieve nearly 500 catches in a minute, a rate that allows just 120 ms per catch. Yet typical human reaction times are 250 ms, and even experts in high-speed sports such as tennis take 200 ms to adjust their responses.

So how do jugglers with reaction times no better than 200 ms catch balls every 120 ms? In part, multitasking may allow multiple balls to be processed simultaneously, though how that is done with 11 balls – the Guinness world record – is far from clear. And in part, balls are not thrown to random locations, so each ball need not be tracked and caught independently. Indeed, up to five balls can be juggled while the juggler is blindfolded. Jugglers rely on making accurate throws and predictions of where the balls will travel. The accuracy required is a measure of how unstable – and thus how difficult – a particular juggling pattern is.

Read the full Physics Today article.



Latest articles in eJuggle



Upcoming juggling festivals

Below is a list of some upcoming juggling festivals.  For a list of even more fests, check our worldwide juggling event listings.

Organizing a juggling festival?  Be sure to add it to the juggling festival list at The Juggling Edge.  Just sign up there for a free account and then add your fest to the list so that jugglers everywhere can find out about your fest.

To get a festival listed here for free, just drop a note to us at ijanews@juggle.org.  Hey, jugglers want to know about juggling fests.  Help them out and get more jugglers to your fest at the same time.

Note: Many juggling festivals planned for the coming months have already been canceled or rescheduled because of the worldwide pandemic.  Some or all of the festivals listed below may also be canceled or rescheduled, so be sure to check a fest’s website before you head there.

Congress of Jugglers
8 May – 10 May 2020
Ritchie Coliseum, University of Maryland, 7675 Baltimore Ave, College Park, MD 20742

Sound of Juggling
11 Jun – 14 Jun 2020
Schmiedingerstraße 1 5102 Anthering Austria

Flatland Juggling Festival 2020
12 Jun – 14 Jun 2020
Omaha, NE  USA

EJC preparty
6 Jul – 10 Jul 2020
Saint Petersburg, Russia

43rd European Juggling Convention (EJC)
11 Jul – 19 Jul 2020
Hangö Högstadium, Koulukatu 13-15, 10900 Hanko, Finland

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