Hazel Bock is a juggler and antipodist from Melbourne, Australia. She is a 2003 graduate of the National Institute of Circus Arts in Australia and has been performing full-time ever since. She was a medalist in the IJA’s IRC Oceania competitions in 2017 and 2018 and recently won the gold medal in the IJA’s 2020 Online Festival Individuals Championship. David Cain interviewed her so we can get to know this talented and versatile performer better.
DC: Can you tell our readers a bit about yourself apart from juggling?
HB: I enjoy knitting, cooking, and making things in general. My father was an engineer and he taught me how to use tools and recycle objects into new projects. I sew costumes and make props for shows. My mother is a keen gardener and I am enjoying my time at home taking care of my vegetable garden.
DC: How and when did you learn to juggle? And how and when did you learn foot juggling?
HB: I taught myself to juggle (with my hands) when I was eleven years old, from a 5 second clip in a tv ad. We did not really have YouTube in those days, so for a short while I was the best juggler I knew. I performed all through high school and really loved going to the Australian circus festivals. I started foot juggling at NICA, Australia’s national circus school, in 2000. At the beginning, I had no idea what I was doing, and my coach’s English was not the best, but he was very patient. I found a lot of the skills from hand juggling and training methods translate to foot juggling.
DC: Can you tell us a bit about your journey as a juggler?
HB: I think of myself more as a performer than a juggler, I love being on stage and interacting with the audience. Juggling, foot juggling, skills in general are all just excuses to be onstage. I still really enjoy training. I have been juggling for over 20 years and I’m always working on new skills. I don’t think there are many careers where you can constantly learn and be creative in that way. I work really hard to be able to make my living from my passion.
DC: What are your favorite types of juggling to work on?
HB: I definitely go though phases being interested in different props. Usually, I have an idea for an image I want to create, then I make an act around it. On a recent variety show contract, I was doing solo ring juggling and that took a lot of energy to maintain the skills for the act. Now during quarantine, I’ve had more time for finding new foot juggling tricks.
DC: You were the Individuals Champion for the IJA 2020 Online Festival. Can you tell us about your preparation for that?
HB: The criteria for the IJA are quite specific, so I had to adapt my act especially for it. Usually, I find music that fits my idea and then I choreograph to that. Finding copyright free music quickly was a challenge. I would love to work with a composer, but its difficult to find someone with the right style. I had to extend my act and add some new tricks. Working with video is different from live performance. You need consider framing and how things will look on the small screen. There is also not much point taking big pauses for applause because people watching at home don’t often clap at their computer. It was a bit of work, but I really liked having a goal to work towards, especially during the quarantine.
DC: How do you feel about winning Individuals, especially considering that you were the first antipodism act to win?
HB: Honestly when I entered, I thought I had no chance of winning, thinking there would be entries from all over the globe. I’m very happy to win. Now I have a full set of IJA medals. I think antipodism still has a lot to explore, so it’s great for it to be showcased in the IJA.
DC: What would you consider to be your greatest accomplishments as a juggler so far apart from your Individuals win?
HB: Being able to forge a career from juggling and support myself from performing has been awesome. I have traveled all over the world and seen some amazing places. Best of all, I get to work closely with diverse and talented people to make great shows together.
DC: Who are your favorite jugglers from the past and from the present and why?
HB: I have to say Wes Peden because he is just such a beast, constantly finding new tricks. I know he gets ideas from jugglers all over the world but not many people could put them together the way he does.
DC: What are your current plans for your juggling future?
HB: Just to keep learning. I think there are a lot of things to discover combining siteswap with foot juggling. I can’t wait to be back onstage, making new acts and new shows.
DC: What do you like the best about the juggling community?
HB: There is something humbling about constantly attempting something and failing that means it’s very rare to meet a mean juggler. The infectious excitement of almost getting that new skill is lovely to share.
Thanks to Hazel for letting us get to know her better.