Juggling is such a visual art, and we usually focus on the props and the manipulation of those as an audience. However, the attire of the juggler themselves can also be quite reflective of the theme, performance style, or current fashions of the time period as well.
Though it can’t ever be said that I personally was the most fashionable of jugglers, I thought it might be fun to look at a few of the people, trends, styles, and oddities that have made jugglers – whether it be performers or attendees at juggling festivals – uniquely fashionable.
Juggling costumes can and have been about as diverse and interesting as any type of fashion.
Paul Cinquevalli wore an acrobatics leotard, while most other gentlemen jugglers such as Kara and Salerno dressed in formal attire for their routines.
Enrico Rastelli went through several phases in his costuming, including a time wearing a Japanese Kimono, as well as his sports themed outfit resembling a soccer/football uniform.
Massimiliano Truzzi was known for his flamboyant costumes and props, keeping with his larger than life personality on stage.
Many of the early female jugglers wore costumes with a feminine touch, and often showed off their legs, which was taboo in normal society, but perfectly acceptable (or even expected) as a performer.
Francis Brunn was known for his Flamenco style outfit with dancer bodysuit.
Circus jugglers over the years have had an especially unique theatrical flair to their attire. Often with lace, sequins, bright colors, and ornate beading, these costumes have been recognizable around the world.
Even today, circus costumes can be extremely elaborate. Juggler Gena Shvartsman Cristiani makes costumes for herself and others, and their intricate detail provides a visually treat for the audience.
In 2015, fashion is extremely diverse, and we see that in the costumes of jugglers. There is no consistent or prevailing style, but jugglers around the world find their own unique fashion in costuming for their performances.
One way to examine changes in costumes is to follow the costume changes of a juggler over his or her career. For example, Anthony Gatto performed in shorts until the age of 13.
Starting with his IJA Seniors Champtionships win in 1986, Anthony transitioned to a more mature costume.
From that point on, his costumes changed based of the venue he was performing in. Below is one of his Cirque du Soleil costumes.
JUGGLING CONVENTIONS AND FESTIVALS
Regarding what we have historically worn to juggling conventions and festivals, it has changed quite a bit, but has almost always been in line with the fashions of the day. In the 1940s and 1950s, however impractical it might seem to by today’s standards, many of the participants in early IJA conventions wore suits and dresses, at least much of the time. When juggling, the suit jackets and ties might have come off, but they still had on long sleeves and slacks for the most part.
By the late 1970s, the clothing (and hairstyles) had changed immensely, so shorts and t-shirts (or no shirts at all) were much more prevalent at IJA gatherings.
Click here to see video from the 1977 IJA Convention video.
From the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s, it seemed as though every competitor in the IJA Juniors competition wore a vest or suspenders and a bow tie. Below are photos of one of my favorite jugglers wearing both of these “trendy” costumes from the Juniors Championships.
Today’s juggling festival attendee primarily wears something that is comfortable and most conducive to juggling (shorts and t-shirts for the most part), but that doesn’t mean that jugglers have totally lost their sense of style. Some jugglers go for a certain color palate in what they wear to the gym. Red Ed used to wear red clothes to go with his red hair and red props. NeilFred Picciotto wears lots of purple, to go along with his purple hair, and Peter Panic is known for his green attire. Piqua Rick Robinson is now retired, but worked in the retail fashion industry for years, and is usually sporting something in the pink or purple color family at juggling festivals.
Scott Sorensen is rarely, if ever, seen juggling without wearing one of his many Superman shirts. Come to think of it, Scott works a regular (non-juggling job) by day, but then continues to successfully demonstrate awesome, superhero like juggling tricks outside of work and always wearing the Superman emblem on his shirt. Maybe he is secretly Clark Kent and Superman!
As you can see, taking a moment to reflect on the fun, unique, and ever-changing attire of jugglers, both on and off stage, can be interesting. As I said before, I’m not known as a fashionable juggler myself, but I do have one fashion related anecdote I can share. When I competed in the 1987 IJA Juniors Championships in Akron, my juggling was so boring and commonplace that there wasn’t much to mention in the Juggler’s World write-up. So, the end result was this statement – Scott Cain had a color coordinated costume and props, and a comedy ending!