IJA 2014 Honorary Awards

The Honorary Awards presented at the 2014 IJA Festival in West Lafayette, Indiana, USA were:

The IJA Historical Achievement Award: Airjazz
The IJA Award of Excellence: Paul Ponce
The IJA Extraordinary Service Award: Mike & Marilyn Sullivan; Paul & Gabi Keast

The IJA Historical Achievement Award: Airjazz (Peter Davison, Jon Held, Kezia Tenenbaum)
Peter Davison, Jon Held, and Kezia Tenenbaum formed Airjazz in 1982. The team has their roots in the IJA, as Peter and Kezia began performing together after meeting at the IJA Convention in 1978. Two years later, they were joined by Barrett Felker and worked as the Magnificent Material Movers; in 1980, that trio won the IJA Teams Championships, and Kezia won first place in the Juniors. Jon Held joined the group in 1981, and when Felker left for a solo career, the remaining trio became Airjazz. In the summer of 1982, they won the IJA Teams Championships, and Peter became the US National champion. From there, they enjoyed a successful international career, with their innovative, choreographed club passing routine, done with skill and humor, taking them to top television shows such as The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson in the US and The Paul Daniels Show in the UK. Although the trio stopped performing together regularly in 1991, their influence continues to be present in many current juggling acts. Their mix of technical juggling skills, dance, comedy, and theatrical sensibilities set a new standard for artistic juggling. As solo artists, Davison and Held continued to combine dance and juggling to create notable performances; Tenenbaum largely retired from the stage while raising a family. Peter immersed himself in the world of ballet, and has created routines combining dance, juggling, and music. Jon created and choreographed large ensemble juggling pieces for several IJA Festivals — the pick-up groups appearing as The Jon Held Dancers — and wrote and performed a one-man show featuring his juggling, monologues, and physical effects; he has since spent much of his time with artistic and commercial photography. Airjazz was based in Boulder, Colorado, where the three members still reside.


The IJA Award of Excellence: Paul Ponce
Paul Ponce is the sixth generation of a famous South American circus family. His father (Victor Ponce) and grandfather were both award-winning jugglers, and other family members were also known for their juggling skills. Born in 1972, Paul Ponce naturally took to juggling as well, and began performing at the age of nine, at first in his father’s act — both onstage and in ice skating shows — then on his own. He specializes in work with a soccer ball; three, four, and five clubs; and straw hats. His fast club juggling works up to a five-club routine that opens with a five-club shower, and concludes with backcrosses. He shows remarkable control with a single soccer ball, heading it while jumping rope, or bouncing it continually on one shoulder. His closing routine with boomerang hats elicits cheers from his audiences as he throws and catches the hats while jumping down from the stage, walking through the audience, and returning to the stage. At one point he keeps six of the hats circling through the air above him. Having lived in Spain for many years now, Ponce has appeared around the world, in most (if not all) of the most prestigious variety theaters in Europe, and in the US with the Big Apple Circus (1999) and at the Diamond Jubilee of the Radio City Music Hall (1991). Paul has also been featured on the Royal Command Performance for Queen Elizabeth in London (1989) and in performance for the Pope and a live audience of 700,000 people (2005). Over the years, Ponce has performed in several different styles, adapting his work to fit the themes of the shows he has been hired for, and has created a juggling act based on the famous tale of “The Juggler of Notre Dame.”


The IJA Extraordinary Service Award(s): Mike & Marilyn Sullivan; Paul & Gabi Keast

Mike & Marilyn Sullivan
Mike & Marilyn Sullivan have been continually supportive of the IJA and actively involved in volunteer efforts of the behalf of our organization for more than a decade. They stepped forward in 2003 to become the first non-paid IJA Membership Directors in many years. Between them they have continued in this capacity for most of the past eleven years. In addition, Marilyn has served for years as the IJA Chief Teller, and Mike has twice been the IJA Festival Director, and continues to be the Future Festival Coordinator. They have also done considerable work behind the scenes with the IJA website, handled pre-registrations for the festivals, led workshops, and generally made themselves seemingly tirelessly available for any task that might come up.

Gabi & Paul Keast
Gabi & Paul Keast have proven their dedication to juggling through four decades. Back in 1984, Paul Keast (from the UK) and Gabi Hartmann (Germany) created Kaskade magazine, aimed primarily at European jugglers but appreciated around the world. Through the magazine, the couple (who later married) did much to bring together the jugglers throughout Europe, with Kaskade eventually becoming something of the unofficial publication of the European Juggling Association. The great increase in juggling on that continent would likely have been far lesser if the magazine had not spread the word of regional festivals large and small, provided contacts for international circus artists, and reported on what artists were doing in their respective countries and venues. Published in both German and English (and briefly with a French translation available), Kaskade covered and promoted juggling around the world, not only in Europe. The editorship and publishing was largely taken on by Gabi over the years; although Paul remained involved as well, it was Gabi who stayed home with their children and spent many hours writing, editing, and creating the look of Kaskade. Holidays were spent traveling to juggling festivals to bring back interviews, photos, and tutorials, presenting the world of juggling and circus arts to readers everywhere for the past thirty years — a run of editorship that is unmatched (and will likely never will be matched) by anyone else in the world of juggling. [Soon after the awards committee agreed on the recommendations for 2014, it was learned that the Keasts had decided to cease publication of Kaskade, the final issue of 2013 indeed being the last one.


Written by Alan Howard

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