Juggling with the Lights Out – and Winning

Their names are Daniel Ledel and Dominik Harant, both 18 years old, Austrian, and they won the IJA Team championship this year with an astonishing display of club juggling, mostly done in the dark.

“It’s just a little bit harder to juggle in the dark,” said Daniel, modestly. “We use glow clubs from Aerotech. Because they are heavier, they are a bit more difficult to manage.” All Aerotech props contain red, green and blue LEDs that can be programmed to produce up to 16 million different colors, and the color changes synthesized to music and other props, according to Aerotech’s not so modest website.

Perhaps to prove that the act was live and not a movie, the duo worked first on the lighted stage, and then turned off the lights for a spectacular, psychedelic flow of clubs lit in an array of rapidly changing colors.

“We needed like 50 hours just for the programming of the clubs for this act,” added Daniel. “We have a friend who helped us a lot to make this act possible. His name is Edwin Guggenbichler, nicknamed Scrat in Austria. He is a programmer and wrote software for the clubs, to make the programming easier. It’s like a video editing software, but with colors. You can add “virtual clubs“ which you can edit and simulate the whole act (including the music) on the PC. He calls this software ‘Glow Writer.’ Without this guy, we might never have been able to make such an act and would maybe not have won at the IJA.”

So now you not only have to learn to juggle clubs, you have to learn how to program them, too.

The two met at a sports school they attended. “Our teacher taught us to juggle three balls, and we just kept on juggling – for four and a half years so far,” said Daniel. “We have two halls we can practice in, and sometimes practice with Duo Jonglissimo (Christoph and Manuel Mitasch, world record holders and 2007 IJA teams champions), sometimes performing with them as well at big gala shows.” (Both duos use lighted clubs.)

“Winning the IJA teams title meant a lot to us; we both screamed hard when we heard we had won,” Daniel said. “Since the IJA win we have done more performances at all kinds of events, and are really well known in Austria because we were covered in many of the country’s big newspapers.”

Plans for the future? “Maybe competing again at the IJA festival; doing the Cirque de Demain festival together with Jonglissimo next year. Over October 19-21 we are organizing a festival in Schärding, Austria, with jugglers such as Doug Sayers, Francoise Rochais, Christof Buch, Duo Jonglissimo, and, of course, ourselves,” Daniel said. Schärding is a beautiful town in northern Austria on the Inn River, and also the duo’s hometown.

“We were at the European Juggling Convention last year and this year, and will be at the one next year in Toulouse, where we hope to perform in the gala show,” said Daniel. “There is not really much difference between the European Conventions and the IJA Festivals, except that at European Conventions many people sleep outside in tents, which I guess is not so usual in America.”

“The IJA is definitely the most awesome convention we have ever been at: so many awesome jugglers there,” Daniel added.  “I am not sure we can make Bowling Green next year. It costs a lot of money to get to America. But book us and we’ll come.”

Leave a Reply