As I look through the many thousands of photos in the archives of the Museum of Juggling History and of the IJA, I occasionally come across juggling acts or routines that are particularly unique. Unique acts are more rare than you might think, as good acts and routines are quickly copied by other performers. We see this now with jugglers copying Michael Moschen’s triangle, Daniel Menendez’s bounce piano, and Greg Kennedy’s cone and bounce V (Orthogonal). This is not a new occurrence. Jugglers quickly copied Salerno’s Salerno Ring and his Picture Frame Trick, Kara’s Kara Box, Ferry Mader’s Cups and Saucers routine, and his Growing Candle Stick routine. Dozens of jugglers have copied Francis Brunn’s Brunn Finish, which Francis copied from Angelo Piccinelli. Almost any successful invention by a juggler is going to be copied. Now, I don’t claim to know every juggling act in the world, but I do probably know more than 99.9% of the juggling population. In Part 1 of this series, I discussed unique aspects of the acts of Ernest Montego, Gil Dova, Rovaki, Grant and Matoon, Duo Danee, and Sheriff Don Pedro. In Part 2, we’ll look at several more unique juggling routines. While I can’t promise you that no one has ever copied the following routines and acts, but they are unique to the best of my knowledge.
Alexander Kiss had several tricks in his act that have never been equaled. One was his open routine of bouncing a club on his head while juggling 7 rings.
The other unique feature that stands out to me is Kiss’ 6 ring routine with the pole balance break down to a ball bounce, all without stopping the 6 ring juggle.
You can watch both of these routines in the following video.
Another Alexander Kiss trick that hasn’t been copied is one he only did in practice, but the story behind it is great. An older friend of Kiss told him that Rastelli had been able to bounce two balls on his head while juggling four sticks. Alexander went to work learning this trick and after countless hours of practice could do it well enough to show the friend who had initially mentioned it. The friend was amazed that Kiss had learned it. Kiss was amazed in turn when the friend told him that he had been joking about Rastelli doing it. I’ve confirmed the accuracy of this story with Kiss’ son. Unfortunately, no video of the trick is known to exist.
Lord London (Wolfgang Bartschelly) performed a routine where balls were rolled down a ramp and caught in shot glasses lined up on a tray. I don’t imagine that this was the most thrilling of routines, so that may explain why it hasn’t been copied.
The Raspyni Brothers
The Raspyni Brothers, Daniel Holzman and Barry Friedman, performed a unique trick that involved three bowling balls, a mini-trampoline, and a volunteer. Daniel and Barry would shower three bowling balls through the legs and over the head of a volunteer who straddled the mini-trampoline, as you can see in the following photo.
Spanish juggler Angel Egea has an amazing act which, until recently, included a trick that has never been copied. The story behind the trick is a great one. At the age of 18, before Angel learned to juggle, he was visiting with his grandfather, Bernardo Egea, who had been a successful juggler. Bernardo shared with Angel about his juggling tricks and talked about heading two balls at once and about ball and mouth stick work. Angel told his grandfather that one day he would bounce two balls on the tip of a mouth stick. Bernardo replied that seeing Angel do that would make him the happiest man on earth. Well, Angel started to learn to juggle and eventually became a world class performer. He even mastered the seemingly impossible trick that he had told his grandfather that he would learn. You can see it in the following photo and in the video at 3:12.
After his grandfather’s passing, Angel took the trick out of his act, as it caused him great strain in the teeth, mouth, head, and neck!
I don’t know anything about Bergini, but I did find this pretty interesting combination trick of his that includes some unique rings. I’ve seen rings that were shaped on the outside like stars, but I’m never seen them have knives protruding from them!
Charles Knie was born in 1947 and is the son of famed juggler Jacky Lupesco. Charles was best known as a trainer of exotic animals, but he certainly learned juggling from his father. Charles combined these two skills in a very unique way. Many jugglers have performed on horse back over the years, but Charles juggled on the backs of rhinos, hippos, and cows. Below you can see a photo of him juggling atop a rhino.