Interview with Toto (Luis Niño Villesca)

Luis Niño Villesca, better known as Toto, is a legend in the Latin American juggling world. I (David Cain) have long been a fan of his juggling and was very glad to get the chance to interview him for eJuggle.

DC: Can you tell our readers a bit about yourself apart from juggling?

Toto: My name is Luis Niño Villesca. I am 35 years old and come from a town in Chile on the hill. My father has a car mechanic business and I never had a circus relative before. Since I was a child, I was very curious. I stood out in activities like table tennis, being champion of my category in those years, I also did some other things like motorbike, karate, and athletics. I also play percussion and some drums. I had a music group years ago in Chile, among other things. It cost me a lot going to school because I was always interested in other skills things. I was a happy boy, from a humble neighborhood called Achupallas in Vina del Mar, Chile. I love to travel the world and have been to more than 35 countries. I love to taste flavors and to know cultures. I am faithful to my profession and I have dedicated a lot of time to it. For me things have not been easy, but I have also been very lucky because life opened doors for me. Everything I do is always dedicated to my family and friends who have supported me on this juggling path.

DC: How and when did you learn to juggle?

Toto: I started at 12 years old when a juggling shop opened in Chile. The time had finally come to juggle!! There was almost no information and so we learned from friends investigating from the most basic details. And so it was all flowing, creating, discovering.

Toto’s first public performance – 1998 (age 14)

DC: Can you tell us a bit about your travels as a juggler?

Toto: My first trip was at the age of 13 to a juggling convention in Argentina, to learn and collect information. From there I went to Brazil, went through Uruguay, and returned to Chile. In the year 2000, I traveled to Karlsruhe, Germany; my first trip to Europe!! It was great. I could see many jugglers of different styles together. It was a dream, a passion, and an incredible thing that I could not imagine!! I returned to Chile and once again I went through Venezuela, which is fantastic. I was able to travel to juggling conventions while learning and eventually I was able to travel to do my performances in countries like Singapore, Thailand, Slovenia, Germany, France, Spain, Belgium, South America, etc. On trips I have met high quality jugglers who have helped me with my juggling. I have also traveled on vacation but much less than with my juggling, I have seen many animals, foods, jugglers, incredible adventures, and people who have remained forever in my heart.

DC: What are your favorite types of juggling to work on?

Toto: Well I am a technical juggler. I love the technique. It is a very slow, difficult investigation and not everyone has the patience to enjoy such detailed research. I study club juggling and contemporary circus technique!

DC: You were one of the first modern jugglers from South America to become well-known internationally. How have things changed in the Latin American juggling community since you started?

Toto: I was indeed the first South American juggler to be known internationally. The most impressive thing was that it was without YouTube or Facebook or Instagram! I was known by word of mouth and through a magazine that came and interviewed me. I was a child and that was something that was not seen at that time. Today has changed a lot since then. We have many very good jugglers, of all styles, known thanks to the social networks that nowadays facilitate everything. This was a door that we did not have until many years later. In Chile, juggling has changed for the better. There is more and more information. We have good jugglers in technique and also in exploration!

Toto in 2004 – The first internet juggling video to come from Chile

DC: What would you consider to be your greatest accomplishments as a juggler so far?

Toto: My first achievement was juggling, but so far I have received more than 35 different awards at festivals and conventions. I would also say: being able to travel as much as I do; performing in 35 different countries; being at several renowned festivals in Europe and Asia. Also being a juggler recognized worldwide for several generations thanks to the effort I have put into my profession; being sponsored by major brands such as Mister Babache, PassePasse, K8 or Kosmos currently; and being able to have my family and friends supporting me and all this has been part of my training myself.

DC: Who are your favorite jugglers from the past and from the present?

Toto: Francis Brunn, Enrico Rastelli, Evgeni Biljauer, Anthony Gatto, Thomas Dietz, Albert Lucas, and the great David Cain!!

DC: What are your current plans for your juggling future?

Toto: Today I am with a very nice show called Creatura Circus in music, poetry and circus. I’m also doing my solo performances, I plan to continue traveling, continue creating, and making my art available to whoever needs it. I want to go to the United States someday and also continue teaching and training.

DC: What do you like the best about the juggling community?

Toto: I love how huge the juggling community is. It’s very impressive!

DC: What are your favorite online videos of yourself?

Toto: I like many of them as I do them for inspiration, but I am very fond of the first video I made, which was also the first juggling video in Chile. There was a video I recorded in Brazil, which I would like to someday be able to show to the world again. There is also the juggling 2017 and those of the 2020 that are still firm in the new generation!

David Cain is a professional juggler, juggling historian, and the owner of the world's only juggling museum, the Museum of Juggling History. He is a Guinness world record holder and 15 time IJA gold medalist. In addition to his juggling pursuits, David is a successful composer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and singer as well as the author of twenty-six books. He and his children live in Middletown, OH (USA).

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