Juggling Masters – Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

With Luke Burrage having recently finished conducting and compiling his annual Top 40 Jugglers list (see video below), it got me thinking about jugglers from the past and who would make such an “all-time version” of the list. I spoke with my brother, noted juggling historian David Cain, and we came up with a list of jugglers from the past – sort of a Top Historical Jugglers All Jugglers Should Know list. The jugglers chosen are either deceased or retired (thus the “Historical” qualification), but are names that those who have studied our past might recognize and revere for their achievements and place in history. They had acts that were technically challenging or innovative, in demand around the world, and have stood the test of time. Also, we weren’t able to do just 40, so our list has 50 Top Historical Juggling Acts All Jugglers Should Know. You’ll likely see these again (with additional details and descriptions) when David publishes his yet-unnamed juggling history book.

I’ll break the list up to show those who have passed away, versus those that are retired:

Deceased – Enrico Rastelli, Francis Brunn, Bobby May, Alexander Kiss, Jenny Jaeger, Paul Cinquevalli, Trixie Larue, Lottie Brunn, Kara, Salerno, Massimiliano Truzzi, Ernest Montego, William Everhart, Eva Vida, Ollie Young, Frank Le Dent, Italo Medini, Edoardo Raspini, Ferry Mader, Felix Adanos, Howard Nichols, Sorin Munteanu, Kathi Gultini, Angelo Picinelli, Johnny Joannides, Bela Kremo, Paul Conchas, Karl Rappo, Awata, Max Sovereign, Paolo Bedini, Reverhos Brothers, Chiesa Brothers, The Breens, The Mowatts, Angel Bojilov Sr., Albert Petrovski, and Selma Bratz

Retired – Anthony Gatto, Sergei Ignatov, Bob Bramson, Rudy Horn, Evgeni Biljauer, Rudy Cardenas, Alberto Sforzi, Bobby Jule, Fudi, Gil Dova, Gran Picaso, Qian Brothers

The task of creating this list of Top 50 Historical Jugglers from our past wasn’t easy, with many other jugglers discussed. This, along with Luke’s annual voting of the Top 40 Jugglers, got me thinking further, in regard to the current / modern jugglers, which ones might be viewed as the “best” from this era fifty years from now. The annual Top 40 looks at jugglers who impacted and inspired us during the past year, but who are the ones who will similarly stand the test of time?

Let me start out by saying that any such list of potential jugglers is bound to be very subjective, just as our Top 50 Historical List was, and will not be able to capture everyone. Also, I recognize my own American bias based on my experience/exposure, which will likely affect my choices as well. I’ve tried to categorize these jugglers, but you’ll see that many of them could easily cross over into other categories as well. Finally, there are many, many ways to measure greatness. Historians usually point to performing careers. However, times have changed and there are numerous ways to be recognize significant juggling. These lists won’t capture everyone, but should shine some light on the jugglers of today and tomorrow.

The Still Performing Masters

These jugglers are likely approaching the end of their performing careers in the next decade or so, and would be in the discussion for the Top Historical Jugglers if they met our definition of being retired. If you still have the chance to see these jugglers in performance, do it!

Kris Kremo, Gregory Popovich, Freddy Kenton, Dick Franco, Albert Lucas, Dieter Tasso, Michael Chirrick, Nino Frediani, Jack Bremlov, Manuel Alverez, Tommy Curtin, Tony Fercos, Senmaru

The Longtime Professional Pros

These jugglers might not quite have the international fame of the above, but are still extremely successful and noteworthy performers which have impacted generations of jugglers.

Peter Davison, Mark Nizer, The Raspyni Brothers (Dan Holzman, Barry Friedman), Barrett Felker, Allan Jacobs, The Passing Zone (Owen Morse, Jonathan Wee), Andy Head, Cindy Marvell, Larry Vee, Steven Ragatz, Alan Howard, Dan Menendez, Arsene Dupin, Steve Mills, Tony Duncan, Dan Bennett, Dale Jones, John McPeak, Earl Shatford, Doubble Troubble, Wally Eastwood, Frank Olivier, Michael Davis, Jay Green

The Competition Champs

While many of these jugglers are also successful performers, much of their fame and impact has come via wins in juggling competitions at the IJA and WJF gatherings.

Jason Garfield, Vova Galchenko, Thomas Dietz, Doug Sayers, Delaney Bayles, Jonah Botvinick-Greenhouse, Peter Kaseman

The Video Giants

The quickest way to impact the juggling community today is through posting awesome videos of amazing and/or creative feats, tricks, records, or routines. Some of these jugglers are also established full-time performers, while others are hobbyists who still want to show off their impressive skills. There are many, many people who could be listed for this category, but here is a sampling.

Wes Peden, Tony Pezzo, Alex Barron, Toby Walker, Scott Sorensen, Josh Horton, Bob & Trish Evans, Willy Colombaioni, Lauge Benjaminisen, Kellin Quinn, Matan Presberg, Haavard Hvidsten, Lewis Kennedy, Jacob Sharpe, Ofek Snir, Ryo Yabe, Mike Moore, Anderson Pereira da Silva, Dan Wood, Lucas Adverse, Iver Tronstad, Christian Hauschild, David Ferman, Ben Beever, Mariia Sobolieva, Peter Bone, Luke Burrage, Louis Cason, Erin Stephens, Luke Davies

The In-Demand Performers

These are some of the top performing acts currently around the world – the types of acts that the Top 40 Historical Jugglers would have had if performing today. I could really easily list many others, but here is a sampling of the fine acts filling stages around the world currently.

Francoise Rochais, Paul Ponce, Picaso Jr., Gena Shvartsman Cristiani, Nikolai Gerasimov, Angel Egea, Angel Bojilov Jr., Valentino Bihorac, Mario Berousek, Thom Wall, Viktor Kee, Niels Duinker, Tony Frebourg, Jonglissimo, Kristian Kristof, Vladik Miagkostoupov, Ty Tojo, Alan Sulc, Patrick Elmnert, Emil Dahl, Tuan Le, Pavel Evsukevich, Komei Aoki, Jack Kalvan, Ivan Pecel, Svetlana Zueva, Jimmy Gonzalez, Jochen Schell, Donald Grant, Patrick McGuire, Team Rootberry, Sean Blue, Jeton, Fusco Brothers, Cladius Specht, Rafael De Carlos, Yuri Yamamura, Buster Baxall, Alexander Koblikov, Jorge Petit, Kyle Driggs, Morgan Cosquer, Menno & Emily van Dyke, Charlie Frye, David Deeble, Marcus Monroe, Jeff Civilico, Michael DuBois, Isidro Silveira Fernandez

The Creative Geniuses

These are the jugglers who think up new ideas, props, approaches, and styles which bring a whole new light to juggling and jugglers.

Jay Gilligan, Michael Moschen, Greg Kennedy, Michael Karas, Erik Aberg, Onni Toivonen, Ameron Rosvall, Ori Roth, Sean Gandini, Kati Yla-Hokkala, Airjazz, Stefan Sing, Jerome Thomas, Michael Menes, Denis Paumier

Your Feedback

So, who did I miss from the current crop of jugglers who you feel was egregiously left out? Who are you surprised didn’t make our Historical Top 50? And, if you’re thinking about long term impact and who we might be thinking about fifty years ago in consideration for The Top Historical Jugglers from our current (and recent past) modern era, who are the best of the best? I’d love to get your feedback at scottcain@hotmail.com and if there is enough significant feedback, I’ll do a follow-up article.

Scott Cain is an IJA Life Member, IJA Numbers Championships Co-Director, a former Numbers gold-medalist, Teams medalist as a member of Raising Cain, Musical Theater Critic for Talkin’ Broadway (Cincinnati/Dayton), and assistant curator/researcher for the Historical Juggling Props Museum (www.historicaljugglingprops.com). He and his family live in Cincinnati, Ohio (USA).

Comments 2

  1. Nice lists, good categories.
    Important people you missed? From the top of my head:

    Stefan Sing, Eric Longequel, Morgan Cosquer, Peter Bone, Jerome Thomas

Leave a Reply