IJA 2012: All Things Gravitational

The Big Toss-Up

On the theory that jugglers always get tricks right on the third try, the IJA returned to the Benton Convention Center in Winston-Salem, NC for the 65th annual festival, July 16-22, 2012. The virtually cataclysmic event spanned nationalities and generations as juggling history, know-how, and festive fun gave rise to a yearly bonanza only jugglers can create. From internationally renowned variety artist Freddy Kenton to ten-year-old team competitor Kento Tanioka, jugglers presented skillful delights and were treated to boundless opportunities to learn new techniques and swap theories on all things goofy and gravitational.

Fest Organizer plus much more, Matt Hall

Festival Director Matt Hall led a team that seemed tireless in its efforts to coordinate the massive juggle. Hall brought the North American Kendama Open, which he initiated in 2009, to the IJA again. He also performed some of his award-winning diabolo skills and MC’d the Xtreme juggling contest. Hall teaches Japanese in the real world and many attendees benefited from his translations. All of which translates into a better-run and more international festival, as many noted it was. Dina Scharnhorst victoriously coordinated a volunteer squad poised to catch things before they hit the ground.

At 74, Kenton has kept up the pattern by changing his act over the years. Billed as the oldest “still-working” juggler, there may be others but he can always grow into the role. As a teenager, he performed with his parents in the Ringling Brothers, Barnum & Bailey Circus and later toured his own act – featuring unusual skills like glass tower balances – in major variety theaters around Europe from London’s Palladium to the Moulin Rouge in Paris. This winter, he will perform at the Circus Festival in Belgium. His wife and touring partner accompanied him to the IJA. During the competitions, Kenton accepted the Lifetime Achievement Award for his performance career.

Freddy Kenton, Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, performing in the Cascade of Stars

The moment was officially recorded by Jay Ko, who can often be found operating an elevated video camera at all hours. Jackie “Mr. E” Erickson of the Philadelphia Juggling Club presented Ko with the Extraordinary Service Award on behalf of the IJA. Dave Finnigan, aka Professor Confidence, introduced Richard Kennison, the champion of “learning how to learn how to juggle,” and presented him with the Excellence in Education Award. This led into a disquisition on the “The Juggling Book” by Carlo, a classic for many in the audience.

Carlo’s acknowledged mentor, Hovey Burgess, attended the festival and passed clubs profusely with former IJA president Bill Barr. Martin Frost was named Honorary Lifetime Member for his many (to the power) tasks within the IJA, including computer de-bugging, newsletter publishing, column writing, generating new patterns with Stanford Juggling Research Institute, and winning a team silver medal in 2004. Frost has served nine years as the IJA’s Communications Director, and that’s what passing revolves around.

“I’m discovering new things,” he said onstage. “It’s just a creative world of passing.” Frost thanked everyone who had ever passed with him, including those not at the actual festival. If there is any experience in which the actual is expanded to other dimensions, it would be passing with the fabulous Frost.

“I’m laughing while I’m passing,” Frost concluded, though his difficult tricks are no laughing matter (or antimatter).

Juggling would be nothing short of medieval without the computer renaissance, it seems. Arthur Lewbel juggled a complex procedure designed to weigh different categories of technique and performance. After many years as Stage Championships Director, Craig Barnes passed the honor to Warren Hammond of the silver-medal winning duo, Smirk. While Hammond plans to compete again, he was determined this year to take on the challenge of directing. He kept his glow throughout.

“I don’t think the experience was harder than I expected,” he said afterwards. “I knew it would be a lot of work.  What I was surprised about though was the time commitment.”

This included organizing preliminary as well as final events and working with a scoring system constantly undergoing refinements. One element Hammond introduced was written commentary from the finals judges in addition to numerical scores. Competitors seemed to appreciate hearing more about their routines and potential.

“Competing in the championships had always been a dream of mine, and one day I also wanted to run the championships to help give back to the community.  I’ve been fortunate to be able to do both very early in my career and life as a juggler.” He credited Jeff Lutkus for being part of the teamwork behind the scenes and Dave Pawson for his help backstage. Hammond summed up:

David Ferman, bronze medal winner in Seniors

“Seeing how happy competitors were who won medals was wonderful. Likewise, seeing the competitors who didn’t medal, or didn’t place where they wanted to, resolve to come back next year and do even better was really inspiring.”

Coming back is what the Juniors Competition is all about. For instance, last year’s winner, David Ferman, competed in Seniors. The Juniors have gotten increasingly complex over the years and the juxtaposition of variety and technique created an intense debate over scoring, bringing up all the questions of art, entertainment, performance and craft. In the Team Competition, acts comprised innovative concepts, unexpected images and quirky comedy.

As an illustration of teamwork between competitors, juniors competitor Ethan Robison of Arkansas credited his juggling time with the Institute of Jugglology, a duo that has competed several times at the IJA. Robison impressed many with his pure connection to what he was doing and receptive, yet unforced, performance style. Balls, clubs, rings, unicycle, machetes on a rola bola, and an unusual prop stand rounded out his act. One could do worse than finish fourth in Juniors. At 11 years, he was up there with some of the best and promises a good combination of technique and entertaining artistry.

Ashley Ellis, bronze medal winner in Juniors

Finishing with a bronze medal in Juniors, Ashely Ellis created a new routine, “Cataclysm 2012,” to encompass her strong and creative club juggling. Starting with batons, as is her trademark, she worked with up to four and very effectively matched her juggleography to the music throughout. Club flourishes and marvelous maneuvers impressed the audience, now familiar with her work. She also performed a completely different and very lovely “Billy Rose” club routine in the Planting the Juggling Seed show the next morning.

Ellis described her experience in putting together the competition routine, which she had to work into her schedule as a 16-year-old community college student in Maryland. It was only after final exams that she started work on the Juniors act, filming a 2012-style opening that appeared on a big screen to set the stage. Ellis was particularly happy to qualify as she did not make the cut last year. An accomplished 5-club juggler, she said she had hoped for a better run at the end of her routine, but won the bronze nonetheless as the only individual female competitor in Juniors or Seniors. She has been pursuing acting and independent film-making and was looking forward to seeing her role in a TV broadcast on Investigation Discovery Channel.

Jack Denger, silver medal winner in Juniors

Juniors silver medalist Jack Denger put on a technical display that left jugglers gaping in amazement as his high tricks with numbers and complex variations were very difficult to do under pressure. The music matched his juggling nicely, but such an action-packed routine left him little time to make an impression on the audience as a performer.

While many thought he would win, the rules past and present favor a variety of presentation skills along with difficult and original tricks. However, Denger’s perfect routine was truly miraculous and earned a standing ovation. One got the sense that skill was the priority rather than performance values in which one downsizes the variations involved to connect with an audience and concept. Yet the routine was very well put together with music that was effective for Denger’s style and repertoire.

“Some jugglers like pop music but I’ve always enjoyed jazz,” he said. “The first time I competed, I didn’t realize how good I was for my age.” That was in Rochester, MN  last year. “I probably could have tried harder things but I pulled back a little,” he said of that performance. His current routine seems to leave little to ambition, but since Rochester he’s modified his technical content to achieve cleaner results.

“I’ve been doing toned-down versions because I can’t afford to do something that difficult. My favorite competition routine I’ve seen was by Adam Kariotis in 1997. I’m not really a showman.” Still, he thinks he may want to pursue the goal of being a professional performer.

“I think it would be kind of nice,” he said, “I’ve definitely been thinking about it a lot. I think it would be a good job after I get out of college. I know I’ve got the skill for it.”

Denger turned 15 in June and attends high school in Indiana. He hopes to attend juggling festivals in St. Louis and Madfest in January and plans to remain a competitor in future.

Kellin Quinn, Juniors gold medalist

Art for art’s sake might have been the theme of the Juniors gold medal-winning act, framed by Kellin Quinn of St. Louis, MO. A routine conjuring the Belgian surrealist seemed to dovetail with the presence of Ea Eo at the IJA this year. Quinn is a disciple of Circus Harmony, a program founded by his mother, Jessica Hentoff. Last year he attended the IJA with a “juggle-ship” grant and performed in Planting the Juggling Seed; since then his skills and performing abilities have grown immensely. His calm visage allowed him to focus on the tricks without losing sight of the overall concept: Magritte meets manipulation. Afterwards, he seemed to take the honor in stride as the awareness of his achievement materialized. An artist is always on to the next project, and he said he was headed back to a contract of regular performances at City Circus Museum in St. Louis.

Mama Hentoff, an aerialist and original member of the Big Apple Circus and Circus Flora, rejoiced the night of the competition when Richard Kennison called Kellin to relay the news. Later she explained that Kellin and his brother, Keaton Hentoff-Killian, perform a very clever and popular act as The Awesome Brothers. Keaton just began training at L’Ecole Nationale de Cirque in Montreal, so Kellin now performs a solo show at City Museum most Fridays at 12 & 2 pm. He also performs with the St. Louis Arches on Saturdays at 1 & 3 pm and in the Circus Harmony Showcases on Sundays. He was just hired to do his juggling chef act for Circus Flora’s new dinner theater show starting in October. The Hentoffs frequently work at venues and events around the St. Louis area, and they were en route from one of these when Kellin recalled the events of the summer.

“The original idea was going to be a Rene Magritte act. I was thinking it would just be a giant picture frame.” But then, he discovered Renegade Juggling’s square rings. “I got those because I wanted to do something like a picture frame,” and so the piece opened with Kellin’s face framed by the square ring. Ultimately he juggled five of them. Since Magritte’s painting contains a hat, this concept naturally lead into a hat, apple and cane routine reminiscent of the gentleman jugglers of yore.

“When I first started juggling I watched a lot of Bobby May videos and that’s where I got most of the tricks,” he said, but the act also contained original variations.

“The last 3-club part at the end, I really enjoy doing… I love clubs the most. Most tricks don’t have names. I do a sequence where I hit the club with other clubs, then I throw up that club and hit it with another club, about seven different hits going around my body.” He also threw in different variations with “shoulder rolls, lego body rolls, and places and such.” Five clubs followed. There was also ball juggling, including seven balls atop a hand sculpture. Using three white balls & one red ball, the red ball went from one site swap position all the way to seven. This is not a pipe dream.

“I was not very calm on stage so I was glad I could pull it off. I was a little bit nervous so I was glad it all worked out,” Quinn said of the experience. Along the way he managed to catch some of the other acts.

“Jack was technically incredible and Ashley’s act was really well put together. I really liked Ethan’s act–Steampunk, a mixture of Victorian age technology.” When asked what may have made the difference for him, Quinn attributed his win to all the performing experience he gets with Circus Harmony. “Performing all the time is really what got me where I was performance wise. I learned 3 balls when I was about 4 or 5. I grew up in a circus family. I never really started working on it a lot until like two years ago.” He thinks he may compete again in the future.

Jerry Martin was an inspired choice to MC the Juniors. Some of his routines contained stories harkening back to his showbiz beginnings as an aspiring magician at 14. His humorous magic kept everyone entertained without hyping the energy beyond Minnesota standards of propriety. He came bearing postcards for his upcoming solo theater show at the Minnesota Fringe Festival: Professor Martin’s Museum of Eccentric Entertainments at The Playwright’s Center in Minneapolis.

Kikyo Brothers, leapfrogging for bronze in the Teams

The Kikyo Brothers, always an exciting duo to watch, repeated as team competitors and won the bronze medal. It seemed they could have placed higher with their clean technique and stage presence while doing very difficult passing. The silver medalists, Galen Harp and Ellen Winters, performing as the Institute of Jugglology since 2005, explore the frontiers of technical eccentricity with quirky and sometimes mystifying performance choices. Their mixed-object trade-offs and passing seemed to rate highly on the difficulty scale and the audience was always intrigued to see what would happen next.

Daniel Ledel and Dominik Herant lit up the stage with 5-ring trade-offs, light-synched clubs and awesomely precise duo juggling and passing (see full article here). The effect seemed to be what this team needed to highlight skills few can achieve. The audience was quite taken with the daring display and musical match-ups. One looks forward to future innovations and confabulations by this highly talented team. When the fun they have learning and creating top skills starts to shine through their performances, they will be all the more amazing to watch. Such skills do not come along too often in one juggler, let alone two.

Michael and Florian Canava lcompeting in the Teams

Another team showing good technique including 10-club passing came from Austria with a set including an electric cello. Michael and Florian Canaval are in the record books, but also pursue their art with dynamic performance concepts like the Mozart-turned-muzak theme. This approach should bring down the house for any international audience interested in popular entertainment mixed with amazing juggling.

In the individuals, Hammond had to make some tough choices from the start as the list of preliminary competitors was long. Judges do not know the cut-off or exactly how their scores will tabulate in relation to the final result. This year, the individuals in particular had a long list of submissions and a number of talented and professional jugglers did not make finals. One of these, Sam Malcolm, shared his experience of the process. He learned a lot on his professional path as both technical juggler and entertainer, and is now performing with Circus Zoppe.

The challenge to meld art and technique into an impressive whole proved fulfilling for those who made it to the championships stage. Many good ideas and difficult variations caught the eye if not the heart. One striking example was the return of past medalist Takashi Hagiwara. Using the music “Water Lilies,” the spectacle began with triangles spread on the stage in a lily shape and later seemed to take flight as a bird. This act is a recognizable favorite, but the overall effect this year could have been stronger to highlight the original props and ingenuity.

Peter Irish using four appendages in the Seniors

Peter Irish explored the chemistry of foot bagging and juggling to a table of elements soundtrack. Some of the difficulty included cascading three bags with his feet while juggling 5 balls. Irish, based in Colorado, won the Boulder Circus Arts Award in June and performs a full show with an accomplished poi spinner, Ambree Zuba. Akira Fukagawa flowed through one of his multiple-diabolo routines (up to four on a string) with skill and artistic expression. Fukagawa, last year’s silver medalist, always performs with great artistry, creativity, and intense diabolo technique. One always looks forward to seeing his uniquely expressive routines. An enthusiastic Japanese contingent attended the IJA, and many were keyed up for the Japan Juggling Festival, Oct. 6-8, in Tokyo. Team numbers medallist Jack Levy stayed in shape to achieve an athletic club and ball set as an Individual. If this type of energetic technical juggling gets with an artistic theme it can be really successful.

Niels Duinker of Holland took the stage with charisma and confidence, starting with an exuberant 5-ball opening including 3-high half pirouettes. Classic 3-club tricks kept traditional juggling alive in the cutting edge world of competition juggling. The audience cheered him on as he attempted a seven-club run, which he regularly performs, the only one in the competition. Duinker won a gold medal in the 2009 Taiwan Circus Festival and was named Variety Act of the Year by the International Society of Magicians. A three-time Dutch national juggling champion, Duinker serves as the European representative of the IJA. He is currently working aboard cruise ships and touring variety theaters around Europe. A new commercial he juggles in will air on the Netherlands’ public transit system and can also be found online.

David Ferman won the bronze medal with his smile and command of technical feats. The routine covered the stage and came across as a cohesive whole, though without changes in style or atmosphere. Highlights included a neck catch from 7 balls, Albert throws, and a joyful 5-club fling. Ferman works as a professional entertainer in Jacksonville, FL. He is one of the more consistent performers, and his unpretentious though athletic style is always exciting.

Thom Wall earning silver in Seniors

Club jugglers are said to have an advantage at the IJA, but it does not always work out this way. Thom Wall had his hands full as an IJA board member, synching events and ideas throughout the year. He put together his competition routine while training at the New England School for Circus Arts. Part modern dance, part site swap, and part fiesta, the intriguing and original romp took ball juggling to the edge. The many subtleties and comedically abstract moments were picked up by the audience. A surprise deluge of balls onto the stage gave the act a larger-than-life element difficult to achieve in routines in a large setting. Even a sound glitch in the beginning seemed to add to the sense of disorientation and discovery. Wall was thrilled to win a silver medal. He departed later that night to return to his summer gig at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg. Check out his trick-of-the-day posts online, which have been a highlight of the cyber networking scene.

Gold medalist, Etoh Satoshi, in the Seniors

If there were a “God particle” present, it would most likely have been found in one of Satoshi Etoh’s beanbags. Juggling in confident yet unassuming style, to a selection of classical pieces, Etoh explored numbers variations with crossovers, multiplexes, and site swap. Beginning on one knee, with beanbags spread at intervals all around, Etoh came to life as the haunting musical opening began. The piece by Offenbach seemed to mirror the symmetry of the juggling patterns. Seven-ball columns and cross-overs into a cascade and back formed a highlight. For such a technical juggler, Etoh felt outnumbered, but this may have given rise to some creative risk-taking:

“In IJA, I felt my technical lack. So, I kept a careful routine not to miss in the first music. I intended to do only skills I’m proud of. I wanted to make the audience laugh, so I used the music of the athletic meet of Japan.” As Etoh changed shoes and warmed up, the music devolved into the Can Can, the audience clapping him along on cue. A spritely five-ball shower with under-the-leg throws and multiplex towers lead to a kick-up flash of nine balls. Jugglers were delighted to be drawn into the spontaneity of the moment, and perhaps Etoh himself was surprised by the outcome. He has been working as a professional juggler in Japan and has performed at such events as the Yahata Street Performance Festival, the Shime Street Performance Festival, and the Crown Plaza Hotel’s dinner show. As for what he might want to do with his juggling in the future, Etoh said he wanted to focus on using his skills to let people smile: “I want to give people of the world energy or passion. I want to improve the position of jugglers in Japan.” Another Lucas Cup might do the trick for Japan as this gold medallist travels home.

Albert Lucas knows a lot about improving the position of jugglers and he emerged onto the stage unheralded to present the new and improved award he won in 1984. Winston-Salem was his first IJA since Redding, PA in 2002 and IJA members were very excited to see him. He brought his wife, a creative individual, and competed in many events. Said Stage Championships Director Hammond, “To have him backstage, helping each competitor get in the right frame of mind to compete was priceless. He’s been an inspiration to so many, myself included, and just his presence can have a profound impact.”

Like the competitions, the Cascade of Stars was much anticipated this year. As usual, the audience provided the pre-show as balloons were sculpted, tossed and batted around the Stevens Center. During this time, four jugglers sat on stage looking surly and disinterested in the proceedings. A few heavily used clubs stood nearby. This behavior continued until well after the recorded announcement prohibiting every electronic device save chainsaws, leaf-blowers, and dust-busters. As the audience caught onto the fact that there was a performance in progress, a sophisticated game of patty-cake ensued. The casually dressed quartet became extraordinarily friendly with each other. Musical chairs without music and other forms of comedic mischief gave rise to laughter and applause. A rule-book was read regarding public places in North Carolina. Since the performers hail from France and Belgium, we were all equally enlightened save perhaps transplant Dan Menendez and Winston-Salem native Keith Nelson.

Cie Ea Eo (Jordaan, Sander, Bram, and Eric) in the Cascade of Stars

Cie Ea Eo of Belgium soon got cracking with a unique form of club manipulation in which a popular workshop was taught earlier in the week. Further funny filler ranged from coordinated antics with hooded sweatshirts to scantily clad human stunts. The oohs began as numerous red balls were put into play. “It was beyond good,” Warren Hammond said of the combination of skills and relationships inherent in the piece, a one-hour rendition of the full show. As the group fanned out to create geometric forms, balls were exchanged baseball-style (why didn’t the Americans think of it?) as the variations grew more complex and combined with solo feats like a high six-ball pattern. Eventually the piece went verbal in opaque yet somehow understandable ways that engaged the audience. By the end, the shirts were very sweaty as it is clear these manipulators put their all into each performance. They even told us what not to say: “You’re a juggler. So seriously, what’s your real job?”

Updates on the various activities of the cast, Eric Longequel, Jordaan De Cuyper, Sander De Cuyper, and Bram Dobbelaere, including a performance calendar with venues around Europe, can be found at http://www.cieeaeo.com/en/ Next stop: St. Petersburg, Russia. You have nothing to lose but your chainsaws.

Doug Sayers’ flying in the Cascade of Stars

Keith Nelson dressed up to MC the second half of show. He dedicated the Cascade of Stars to Robert Nelson, alias Butterfly Man. Perhaps appropriately, a graffiti artist followed as Doug Sayers reprised his gold-medal winning act from the Winston-Salem IJA fest a few years ago. He is clearly getting younger and probably having more fun. Sayers, also a former team champion, swept many of the numbers events this year. One can’t help mentioning the five-high pirouette into continuous shoulder throws with the famous beanbags his mother, Cheryl Sayers, has developed as a cottage industry in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. And, yes, he jumped between the boxes, an action-photographer’s dream. Otherwise, how would we know we were in Winston-Salem? Maybe Sayers will cook up something new to perform on the Open Stage at next year’s IJA in Bowling Green, OH.

Upon Nelson’s return, he recounted being in the Stevens Center as a kid to see the Nutcracker, though he claimed the mud show was a greater influence. Top-spinning completed the turn.

Kevin Axtell of California, part mime, part illusionist, part motion artist, kept clubs moving like the hands of an illusory clock. His combination of Asian-based choreography with eclectic music was one of the treats of the fest. This is one of the more in-depth routines with one-two-three clubs since former gold medallist Allan Jacobs competed with his innovative routine at the 1983 IJA in Purchase, NY.

Ashley Ellis wore the best dress of the fest as she presented the Flamingo Award to encourage a young female juggler: 14-year-old Delany Bayles, who began last September and is already flashing seven balls. Selected by the Flamingo Club, which met throughout the week to discuss the state of women who juggle and those who don’t, she received clubs and an assortment of prizes. Eric Longequel of Ea Eo returned and suavely spun a diabolo and entertained en mime. A mini-suicide off a horizontal handstick was appreciated, as was an elbow-bump. What followed can only be appreciated by ordering the DVD. Suffice it to say, the audience was engaged and Longequel acted like he could be.

Freddy Kenton, Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, added more than a touch of vaudeville class, including a balloon-burst balance on a knife, hip pockets, billiard cues with double ball balance, a lovely assistant, and other career classics. He and his lovely assistant seemed to be making it up as they went along, which rendered the perfect tricks more impressive. Where else can you see a string instrument played on a mouth-held bow balancing a glass tower on a ball to the Malaguana? Credit must be given to the tech crew for a very pretty cyclorama. The last stunt was a celebration of vaudeville lunacy, and if that’s what it takes to go on night after night, who wouldn’t?

Nelson returned to swallow a giant scissors among other feats of sharpness and acuity. Ryan Mellors of the Ministry of Manipulation entered with a hoop that seemed to lead him around and even bounce. Mellors taught a workshop in isolations, bridging the gap between juggling and hooping. He also performed as a mild-mannered character with three clubs, always keeping his body connected to the playful moves and club poses. 4-ring rotations were coolly hypnotic to the final flop-down. This led naturally into Nelson’s explanation of Canadian arts funding. The connection of funding to performance was highlighted by a monetarily compensated volunteer.

Pavel Evsukevich bouncing a ball on his head while juggling 4 more

Technique and performance are the forces behind Pavel Evsukevich’s work, and from the first moment, he was great to watch as the piece progressed from single ball spinning to numbers with a head bounce. A lyrical five ring progression soared through moves like half pirouettes, site swaps, and a magnificent shower with turned-out throws. The audience roared as an overhead kick-up out of seven rings came off flawlessly. After returning to Russia for a few weeks, he wrote from a circus festival in Germany:

“One of my dreams was to come to the IJA. I knew it is the best place for jugglers, people so open for you and so friendly. I saw it’s like a big family, level of juggling very high, lots of amazing jugglers. A lot of competition and workshops, shops where you can buy props for juggling, most interesting shows in the world, wonderful theater and conditions, awesome audience, very friendly people, and a huge place for the convention. I did workshops, a few competitions, and the Gala show. I hope jugglers got some new and helpful tips from my workshop. The gala show was interesting, with a lot of good performers. Thanks to all who made this amazing event, especially Matt Hall!”

Riga Moettus joggling with 5 balls

Some records were broken in joggling races, with Albert Lucas, Jack Denger, and Maggie Armstrong winning multiple events. Sizzling energy marked the Xtreme event, created by Jack Kalvan of Clockwork. His clockmate, Rick Rubenstein (the one with the “Revenge”) MC’d the Individual and Team competitions with prescient humor and trivia. Festival organizer Matt Hall played sports announcer for the Xtreme contest; Hall also performed diabolo and untangled more than a few errant strings to benefit the membership. Kim Laird announced her last season leading the IJA board of directors; she will serve as Festival Director of the 2013 IJA Festival in Bowling Green, OH. Erin Stephens of Salt Fire Circus, also on the board, kept projects and objects afloat.

The list of workshops was nothing short of awe-inspiring. Workshop Director Dave Pawson reported racking up over 100 offerings before the week was through. Many workshop leaders submitted handouts for an archive of such materials, a good resource however it is made available. Funky Club Manipulation and Risky Club Balancing (De Cuyper) and How to Find Movement in Juggling Without Using Dance (Longequel) expanded the capabilities of many. Longequel, who said he does not normally teach this, paired jugglers and asked them to link trade-offs to create new positioning.

Shea Freelove presented a History of American Circus and another on Sideshow. Kevin Axtell offered Shapeshifting and Steve Langley of the Fettuccini Brothers hat manipulation. Michael Falkov presented Mazes, Noel Yee took jugglers through poi techniques, Gypsy Goeff taught object balancing, and Chris Hodge shared slamming variations. The four-ball bounce workshop was a highlight, showing not only what the moves were but how to change your grip and positioning to accomplish them. Contact club manipulation also grooved along with “notorious fishtails” explained.

Keith Nelson of Bindlestiff Family Circus co-produced the Renegade shows with MC Mark Hayward and Slammin Andy of the Carmine Street Irregulars. Acts ranged from peculiar puppetry, to chair balancing, to a love song cabaret. Shea Freelove of Arcata, CA and Periko of Chile, members of the Freedom Family Circus, honed their late-night sketches for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Scotland. Periko defied the odds by bouncing objects off the wheel of a tall unicycle while riding it with machetes. He described the growing abundance of juggling and circus talent in South America, where the IJA is planning events and competitions (See IRC Chile and IRC Brazil). The Great American Bob Nickerson could not resist the stage, nor could the Passing Zone, Jon Wee and Owen Morse of California. Among the night owls was Viveca Gardiner of Playful Productions in NYC. She published a daily newsletter packed with humor and info for festival goers including the results below.

The endurance games offered an obscure trial called “fewest throws with three objects.” Winner Andrew Ruiz claimed mastery of this. Ted Joblin can add one-diabolo infinite suicide endurance to his resume. Doug Sayers, whose medals in numbers are themselves reaching epic heights, won the seven-ball and five-ring endurance. Shortly after the IJA, he became the WJF champion. Jack Denger was voted the People’s Choice trophy as jugglers put “Rastelli bucks” in a hat. He also won five-ball endurance. Adam Kuchler took the cigar box takeout speed race and Dylan Waickman nabbed the one-devil stick propeller endurance. Record setters Florian and Michael Canaval won club-passing endurance.

Next year the IJA will take a break from Winston-Salem and convention centers in general, and will return to a university setting. Registration will begin early at juggle.org with discounts offered and camping available (sign up in advance). Facilities are said to be good and new events are planned such as an Open Stage for new work. The Youth Showcase, which included everything from a piano to the Hunchback of Notre Dame, plans to return.

Until then, thanks to the many jugglers who contributed prestidigitation and pulchritude beyond the reach of this story. To you especially belongs the glory of all things gravitational.


Here are the full results of the games and competitions. And also joggling results.

Special thanks to Emory Kimbrough for the photos. See his gallery for many more…

Cindy Marvell

Cindy Marvell began making her mark on New York ceilings at age twelve and has been juggling professionally since graduating from Oberlin College in 1988. The following year she became the first woman ever to win the International Juggling Association’s Championship. She has toured as a cast member with the Off Broadway show Lazer Vaudeville since 1994 including shows in Singapore, England, Saudi Arabia, Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Alaska, and North America. Her solo work has taken her to Europe, Japan, and ex-Soviet Georgia. In the early 90s she joined San Francisco’s Pickle Family Circus with director Larry Pisoni, performing at the Palace of Fine Arts, the Guthrie Theater, and Cincinnati Playhouse-in-the-Park. She studied dance at the Limon Institute and the Isadora Duncan Foundation, performing with Howard Fireheart’s dance theater company in the East Village. New York shows include Bouncing Back at the Dance Theater Workshop, Ladyfingers at Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors, Young People’s Concerts at Avery Fisher Hall, Sesame Street and the N.Y. Renaissance Festival. She has won two Groundhog Awards (the first solo woman) and a team silver medal at the IJA with the trio Darn, Good and Funny. She is co-founder of the Boulder Circus Center and has also taught at the Big Apple Circus School. DVDs include A Juggling Journey (I & II), Trailblazers: Women Who Juggle, Lazer Vaudeville Off Broadway, and Juggling for Japan (available on amazon.com to benefit earthquake response). She has written a young adult novel, “Shadow Princess: An Indonesian Story” with co-author and puppeteer Tamara Fielding. The book, a performance adventure story, is available on amazon.com and the Barnes & Noble website. Last August, she performed at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Scotland with Freedom Family Circus and was featured in David Michelak’s Slow Dance. She has a son, Theo, with hoop juggler Carter Brown.

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