I have come to the conclusion, I'm not a choreographer.
I have been juggling for quite some time now... But I would consider myself as a sports juggler. I feel that it's time to take my skill, make it into something more entertaining and engaging for myself and others.
Long story short... I want to be more of a performer.
So, this is where I stand
3b Many tricks very smooth and consistent, including: Box, 3up 360 pirouette, Factory, Mill's-Mess, and eyes closed.
4b Many tricks smooth and consistent, including: Full Shower, Wide Columns, 534 and 7531.
5b Few tricks smooth and consistent, including: 1up-4up, (6x,4)*, 3up 360 pirouette, and Half Shower
6b Fountain consistent 24+ catches
3c Few tricks smooth and consistent, including: Mill's-Mess, Flats, Flair with both hands, and Kick-up into 4c
4c Few tricks smooth and consistent, including: 53, 534, Sync, A-Sync, Singles and Tripples.
I juggle to music every time I practice, I have the feel of what tricks I can do and when I should do them depending on the song that's playing... But I find I just improvise every time. If I drop, I leave the song play on, then I join in with the music when I feel like it. There is absolutely no structure with what I do.
So, the thing is that I have a song that I wish to perform to, it has a changing tempo, is just over three minutes long, and it's very catchy... But I am hopeless at choreographing what I want to do. I write down the tricks that I think I should include. I try to perform what I have written, execute the first trick then immediately forget the list and start improvising again. I then take a glance at my list, and then realise that almost half of the song has passed already, and I'm flapping around like a chicken.
The other thing is, I believe that I should include a few little breaks in the middle of the act to either give the audience a time to reflect and appreciate what I have just completed, or give me time to change props, but I have no idea when I should have them: After a big trick? After a series of little tricks? A different fancy finish every time?
So basically, I'm asking for any advice from you performers out there. How can I develop my routine, how can I make a show out of what I can do?
Much love to you all,
Who do you want to be performing for? That will affect what direction you need to go in. If you are performing for other jugglers your approach needs to be very different to if you are performing for non-jugglers.
I've seen every trick you've listed before & can do most of them myself. What makes you unique? What can you do that makes your 3b box different from everybody else's 3b box? If the answer's nothing then I'm probably not going to be interested. The only one trick that jumps out at me on your list is 4b wide columns. How wide? If it's more than 'one step' I'm interested!
If you are performing to non-jugglers any one of those tricks (even just a 3-ball cascade) could be something they have never seen before making you the most unique juggler they've ever seen. That certainly doesn't mean performing for non-jugglers is easier. Jugglers are quite happy to watch juggling. Non-jugglers want to see entertainment which is not the same thing.
I'm going to try to explain why you should choreograph your routine which is not going to help you to break out of the improvising habit, but might help encourage you to put in the effort required to do so.
If you are improvising & doing something different each time, you have no real way to identify what an audience appreciates. Was it the pattern, the transition into or out of the trick that got that gasp? Think of it like designing a science experiment. Your routine should be almost identical, just make one change at a time. If that change consistently gets a better reaction keep it in.
If you watch a seasoned street performer. That witty one-liner that they used to put down a heckle? The timing, the phrasing, the intonation will almost certainly have been crafted to perfection through many years of repetition. The build up to, the execution, the reaction after that finale trick will have gone through thousands of iterations in front of audience.
You have a list of tricks. Well done, that's more of a start than most people ever make. Memorise it without juggling it, then practise juggling it. Then find an audience & perform it, pay attention to their reactions - did someone try to applaud a trick but gave up because there was no pause in the action? Those audience reactions are the hints that tell you what changes to make.
All that said though, improvisation is a useful skill to have there will always be a situation that you can't account for or something you haven't thought of.
Oh, & a quick note about choreographing to music. One of my first performances was a diabolo routine at a TWJC Christmas show. I had started with some music & a list of tricks just like you have. After the show a chap named Phil came up to me & asked, "How did you choreograph all those tricks to be in time with the music?" I hadn't. Any connection between the timing of my tricks & the music was entirely coincidental but his perception that I had was what mattered!
Thank you very much for the advice!
Yes, I suppose I didn't specify who I was going to be performing for and where. I want to perform mainly for non jugglers, more of a busking role. I have multiple costume ideas, multiple song genres, and multiple prop styles.
So, my next step is going to be reform the list I have drafted up, and I'll memorise the order of the tricks. But what I'll also start to draft up a list of the styles I could use... Whether it is skipping around the stage, over emphasising a "big" trick, or flashing a cheeky wink at someone in the audience.
I understand that patter and wit will take years to master, and I am more than willing to accept that my first performance isn't going to be perfect, but I'm dying to find out.
Drop the music, bin it completely. Busking is all about making a connection with the individuals in the crowd, making them gasp/laugh/react in any way other than walking off. Doing that without talking is *harder* than doing it with words.
Go watch a load of street shows, try not to copy whole bits, but pay attention to and copy the show structure. There are phases to a street show, gathering a crowd, building, filling, final trick, hatting. The structure is there because it works.
That structure makes choreography easier, because it gives you bones to hang the tricks off.
You will suck
Performance is a skill in itself, it has to be learned and practiced. Unfortunately that has to be done infrint of an audience.
You will suck, but every show will have a glimmer of not sucking in it - take that, fan it into a flame, fan that flame into an inferno and you're golden :)
Furthermore busking may not be your thing. It requires a particular mindset to be a busker. You have to build a show around continuously asking for money, to be successful. You can't just have one hat line unless you want to starve. There is a ton of information on the internet about this http://www.buskercentral.com/how_to.php being a good start but there are a load of sites.
There are many other outlets for performing jugglers but very few require just your juggling skills. Professional jugglers are business people first and finding the niche that earns you money is an ongoing task.
Good luck busking! Out of all the performance styles/venues that are available, busking is the one for which actual juggling skills are the least important. It all comes to your ability to sell those 3 tricks that you're going to do. This challenge would teach you to perform for sure
If you do want to juggle, but want to be on the street, I can recommend traffic lights. A clean sequence of tricks works fine here, and as a bonus it is not a requirement to consider sound and costume etc ;)
Someone tried traffic lights in Sweden and got told off by the police, who apparently had never heard of anyone performing at traffic lights before. (It was in the newspaper.)
Is there really time to both perform and collect money before the lights turn green? I think that was the main issue with the one who tried it "here", that he was still collecting money and thus slowing down the cars when it was green.
When I did it, I had a traffic light with a 1.5 minute cycle. I would perform for about 30 seconds, collect for 30 seconds, and then the cars would drive for 30 seconds. However, often I would still be stuck on the road while people started driving, and then someone would have to slow down for me in order for me to make it to the shoulder. That would happen like one out of 5 times or so.
Also, every now and then I would be really lucky and there would be many cars trying to give me money, if those cars were willing to slow down the traffic behind them, yes you'd slow down traffic. But often these cars weren't willing, so if you would reach them too late they would drive anyway.
But sure, you're on the road where you're not supposed to be, you're standing in relatively dangerous positions... If I were a cop and had never seen this practise, I would tell people off too...
The best places to start doing this are places that are already used to beggars or window washers. They have come to "accept" people walking along the traffic light, but then being the juggler you are the fun and original version, not the annoying one. Everybody happy.
I haven't dared to try here in the Netherlands. In Rotterdam I know of one spot where a beggar walks, but I'm still convinced that people would be too baffled to get out money in time. Plus, I find it scarier to pretend I'm the quirky guy when I'm not a non-native/traveler. Being outside your own country gives you some bonus points.
Busking is a good way to learn a lot about performing very fast, but having done it, I'd recommend against anyone spending much time on it, aiming to do it long term or even put the effort into getting good at it. I have never met a more miserable crowd than a group of long time street performing jugglers. It's a creatively deadening form of entertainment mixed with cut-throat competition for pitches, material, and promotion. Know what you are getting yourself in to!
Thank you all, for all of the advice you have been able to provide me.
An additional note:
I am not looking to make juggling a reliable source of income, nor am I looking to make it a full-time major commitment. I am in a position where I work away on a ship for 4 months (With plenty of juggle practice time), then it's followed by 3 months paid leave, so I wouldnt need it to be a great money-maker.
In my three months paid leave I love to travel, I find myself in cities, on beaches, and in places where I barely know the language. So what I am actually looking to do is just create an eye-catching routine that brings smiles to the people around me. I wouldn't need anything in return, I would be doing it purely for the entertainment of others (and myself of course).
Sounds like a good life! I love the idea of not having to do stuff for money, and then not having to follow the normal rules or guidelines in that direction.
If you just want to juggle some nice routines, but aren't asking for money or even perform in a traditional sense, why not just learn the routine of someone else? In doing so you'll learn a lot about choreography from inside someone else's head.
It's a good life for a 23 year old with no family commitments, but it's not for everyone.
I thought the number one unwritten rule of a performer was never to use someone else's performance routine? Or have I got this completely wrong?
i don't mean you should perform someone else's routine, but learn the choreography. Once you get a feel of what kind of things flow together by copying the masters, you'll know much better what you can develop yourself.
Welcome to the world of performing :).
Keep in mind that any (juggling) performance is more than a list of tricks being executed! Other things to consider choreographing:
Position and movement on stage, movement and position of body, music, acting, costume, props, colors, events, jokes, etc.
I've seen enough juggling to not care for a routine of common tricks. But if you have a good/fun/untested idea for one of the things mentioned above, and let that influence your juggling (for example, put on 30 t-shirts as your costume and see what you can still do, or skip around in circles on stage and bring that movement in harmony with your juggling), and you've got yourself an interesting performance.
Now, if you've never performed much, those things may seem hard and it sounds much easier to "hide" behind the juggling you already know... But if you're serious about learnig performing you'll have to accept that the juggling you do in training might not directly be interesting on stage.
Once you've got this extra thing in your act that makes your performance interesting, the tricks will hopefully soon fall into place and order.
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