Hello jugglers, Nathan Wakefield here. Some of you may have read my eJuggle articles in the past and some of you may have met me at festivals over the years. In any event, I am deeply honored to be starting my term as Chairman of the International Jugglers’ Association. It is a great excitement for me to be able to give back to the IJA at this level, and I plan on dedicating myself fully to this position.
Speaking of exciting, I just got back from the 67th Annual IJA Festival in West Lafayette, IN. What an amazing time! Every IJA Festival is a unique and memorable experience, and for good reason. There are always the staple events that festival goers look forward to and expect, but there are always a few surprises that make things even more interesting. This year was no exception.
There were incredible performers from all over the world and amazing competitions. Not to mention workshops, Renegade shows, and more great events. One of the more interesting observations I had was that in the Individuals stage competitions, none of the three acts that medaled manipulated more than three objects in their acts! All three were unique and breathtaking in their own right. In an era where competitive juggling seems to be gravitating more and more towards numbers, surprises like this occasionally come along and turn your expectations upside down.
Another strong observation about this particular festival was the strong presence of the flow/spinning community. There were not one, but two poi performers in the stage shows and several hooping acts. A great deal of workshops this year were on club swinging, poi and hooping. There were two Fire Nights, for those spinners and jugglers that wanted to set the night ablaze. Not to mention that there were more people spinning in the gym than I have personally ever seen at an IJA festival. I am thrilled to see this diversity going on, and I hope to see more and more different kinds of prop manipulators coming together like this at future IJA festivals.
I would like to send a special thank you to Cody Fiereck, this year’s Festival Director, for putting together such an amazing event.
Next year, the IJA goes outside of the United States to Quebec City in Canada. This festival is being put together by the Turbo418 team who are behind the annual Turbo Fest event. I’ve never had the pleasure of attending this particular event, but I’ve heard nothing but great things about the venue, city and team organizing it. Next year’s IJA festival is going to be a great event. I will be sure to provide updates in this column as the festival planning unfolds.
There are also a lot of great things happening in the IJA with our various programs and member benefits. Our IRC programs continue to lead to many IJA Regional Competitions being held all over the world. The IJA’s newly re-branded Youth Juggling Academy (YJA) (formerly the Youth Education Program, or YEP) continues to grow. And then there’s all the original content that is pouring into eJuggle and our YouTube channel. Now is definitely a really fun time to be involved with the IJA!
On that note, with all of the great programs and festivals that the IJA puts on, it can be easy to forget about all the hard work that goes on behind the scene. Our Board of Directors and Officers are all volunteers, dedicated to donating their time and energy to keeping the IJA functioning efficiently. If you’ve ever wanted to contribute to the IJA by becoming a volunteer officer, check out our officer job descriptions, and submit a letter of interest to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
My predecessor Erin Stephens did a lot of great things with the IJA over the last year as Chair, and put the wheels in motion for a lot of our upcoming projects. I would like to thank Erin Stephens for her extreme dedication and all the hard work she put into the IJA. It is my goal to continue this progress and help make the IJA a great place for all jugglers. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to reach out to the appropriate person on our contacts page, or contact me directly at email@example.com. Here is looking towards a great juggling future!