“Like a graceful vase, a cat, even when motionless, seems to flow.”
George F. Will
Fluid juggling is the term I have coined for my work on Juggling and Movement.
It is the moment in which we stop “practising” and instead just have fun with our props and body at our current level of technique. The emphasis is on the pleasure that a trick gives us when we become fully aware of our body and the space around us—we are the centre of a sphere and anything is possible. We accept everything and no trick or throw (or movement) is discarded as being “too easy” as long as fully aware.
Fluid juggling implies a small but significant change in our point of view—it is when juggling becomes an outer expression of our inner world.
This change could come from a desire to move in a certain way, from playing with opposites in direction, rhythm, or dynamics, or from curiously exploring the possibilities of movement: the torso, arms, legs, and spinal column extending into throws, rolls, balances, and swings.
Movement could come from how we feel in that moment, or we could immerse ourselves in a role, expressing our inner sensations and emotions through our body and our props.
In a certain sense, fluid juggling is one of the first steps in going beyond pure technique. It could also become a useful tool for developing your acting and dance skills, learning through play and improvisation. It could even become your own personal way of expressing yourself and gaining self confidence through juggling.
We become less interested in “the difficult” for its own sake. We instead look for variations and tricks that allow for change in the juggling rhythm, adding surprises and looking for new ways to connect old tricks. We still train throws and tricks—not necessarily always comfortably and standing up straight, but always with the idea to use these tricks in movement and in relation to our bodies and the space around us.
Illustration by Federico Bardzki on cover of PEARLS OF JUGGLING
It’s important to practise in a relaxed way, working from our body’s centre. More important than that, however, is to have FUN. Risk doing seemingly stupid moves!
Here’s food for thought: movement implies stillness as its complete opposite. Remember that we don’t have to juggle and move at the same time.
Dare to move without juggling. And dare to do NOTHING, too! Moments of stillness, just waiting for the next move.
Cultivating interest in small details makes everything FLOW better. Look for variations where your body is considered part of the juggling pattern.
Fluid Juggling puts an emphasis on connecting the juggler to the juggled through the action of juggling. Movement and juggling come together; movement creates juggling and juggling creates movement. Creating a relationship to our props, feeling their weight, knowing where they are at all times even when they roll far away…
Drops are considered part of the “game”. Constantly look for new ways to pick up and continue without losing your focus.
In Fluid Juggling, bodywork is essential to realign the body, awaken its sensitivity, loosen and coordinate body movements. I have found that practising yoga in a balanced way—not too hard, not too soft—can be excellent for body-mind training, as can Taiji, dance-like contact improvisation, not too-technical contemporary dance, or even hip-hop and fluid dance. We can also use our favourite exercises as a preparation for juggling. The Feldenkrais Method and the Alexander Technique can be helpful too.
Remember: when combining movement with juggling, keep the movements initially simple but fully aware.
15-20 minutes of bodywork before juggling not only protects us from injury, it also stimulates the brain-body connection and awakens our senses, leading us into creativity—it can also help to make our body movements and juggling more efficient, reliable, and beautiful to look at.
The underlying aim is to unite the motor and sensory parts of our brain.
Warming up by playing around with one or two objects could also be very useful.
Work with the idea of the five elements (Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Space, moving like water being one of the most important principles of Fluid Juggling but not only) and the four basic emotions all mentioned in my book (Joy, Sadness, Fear and Anger) and as propellants for explorations in movement.
Illustration by Federico Bardzki in PEARLS OF JUGGLING
Imagine yourself to be at the centre of a sphere with complete freedom of movement in all six basic directions. This also includes spirals.
Fluid Juggling is based greatly on improvisation and the creation of many mini sequences from the material that emerges. Yet improvisation needs rules that you make up for yourself, which I explore in my book “Pearls of Juggling”.
With the right mentality and the right structure, the possibilities become endless. And the ‘Fun’ shoots up to the stars, be it during practice, play, or performance.
In my next article I will go into detail regarding a concept I love, called “Finding the Game” within juggling.