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Terix -

What do you think, where is the border between juggler-amateur and juggler professional?
I think it depends on every person whether they consider themselves amateurs or professionals, but I am interested what do you think it means to be pro - to juggle or dance with fire? To juggle solidly 7 balls? To break a world record? To win competition at WJF? To know a lot of juggling tricks and can do creative shows? Does it mean, if you are pro, that balls will never fall in your show?

Little Paul - - Parent

The border is quite simple.

Do you make the majority of your income from juggling?

Yes - you’re a professional juggler
No - you’re an amateur juggler

7b_wizard - - Parent

For sure. And maybe being able to arrange your life around your juggling income, supporting a family, a household, a car, insurances (in case of injury or sickness) an' all, some spare budget; and that means also when things are workin' out against you (in life or as a juggler) at times. You would mostly depend on your juggling.

7b_wizard - - Parent

  For me, I guess, it would mean to do dropless. To entertain people well.

  There's so many occasions and setups for where and when to juggle for money, in pedestrian zones, at traffic lights, at festivals, on markets, at events of any kind, for tourists on ships, at hotels, on beaches, give workshops for jugglers and non-jugglers, at camps, teach in a circus school, have gigs at a varieté, in events-bars, discos, therapeutic teaching juggling for rehabilitation or for mental support or as part of an ergotherapy, have an own studio, be a wandering mobile jester, is what I can think of ad hoc.
  So there's many decisions to take and many things to find out where and when it would work best also long-term like where do people's wallets sit loose, what do people expect and want from a juggler, how can you make what you have to offer an ``event´´, sth they won't easily forget and worthwhile for people to pay for.

  And all this is not yet speaking of skills being utterly ripe for stage, not speaking of mastership versus "got it once per stint" and doing on highest and secure level enabling you to entertain while juggling.

Daniel Simu - - Parent

I've become a professional juggler by caring less about juggling and more about performing whenever I'm on stage.

Are you just a good juggler? Amateur.
Are you a good juggler, good performer, have knowhow about costumes, music, dancing, devising shows, collaborating, creative writing, promoting yourself and getting paid for your juggling? Probably a professional.

Mike Moore - - Parent

Pah, I've seen loads of examples of bad jugglers and good performers (who perform juggling). Or, at least, they do no good juggling in their show. Let's not overidolize the pros.

Daniel Simu - - Parent

I used to think that loads of performers were bad jugglers, but the longer I am in this business the more I realize most performers choose to not do great juggling even if they can.. Including myself, on stage I show at most a third of my skill level...

Mike Moore - - Parent

I've been disappointed way too many times. There are tons of buskers, as well as cushy-job pros that I wouldn't describe as "good jugglers" even if their act contained only 10 % of their skill level. It's fine, I get it, juggling isn't their profession as much as performing is.

There are tons of (juggling-mainly) buskers in Ontario that are pretty bad jugglers. Even at the Toronto Buskerfest, where there are many international performers, the juggling tends to be pretty lackluster.

I also recall Luke Burrage (I think? In one of the really old podcasts) complaining about buskers who only do 3 object cascades with different things. I don't think the trend is unique to North America.

All of that said...when I went to a Japanese busking festival, there were JJF/IJA winners/placers as far as the eye could see.

Terix - - Parent

These "bad buskers" probably have their own reasons why do they juggle in public even if they can't do it on a high level. In Czech Republic where I live there is a lot of buskers but I have never seen a juggler among them, only musicians and others.

Mike Moore - - Parent

Oh, it can be very effective at getting money in a hat. Which is why I wouldn't describe them as bad buskers, but would describe them as bad jugglers.

Daniel Simu - - Parent

There is a point where I would not consider these performers "jugglers", perhaps entertainers or buskers. I wonder how they see themselves, but I doubt that someone who sticks to the three cascade with different objects see themselves as jugglers in the first place... I hope not :p

Mike Moore - - Parent

They've certainly advertised themselves as such :(

lukeburrage - - Parent

I don't remember the exact podcast, but I think my opinions have evolved a bit. I don't mind buskers who only do three object cascades with different things. Now I have strong thoughts about american-style comedy jugglers whose performances are based around telling dad jokes while juggling three object cascades, and never have anything funny going on *except* the dad jokes and maybe the intrinsic hilarity of the weird objects being juggled. If the comedy isn't somehow connected to the physicality of juggling or the performance of juggling, and just what someone says or holds, I personally find it very hard to enjoy or appreciate. Conversations with this type of juggling never seems to be about juggling, only about joke writing, but I have zero interest in conversations about writing jokes, and if I did have interest in writing jokes, I'd being hanging out with standup comedians, not jugglers.

Mike Moore - - Parent

It was one of my favourite episodes...I think you also talked about one particular busker who would gather a crowd, then demand prepayment, then cancel the show because he didn't receive enough money. Rinse and repeat.

Because of this thread I was trying to figure out whether I'd consider this person to be a bad busker. Since I've had mostly bad experiences with buskers (in the wild), I see a busker's priority as making money, leaning my answer toward, "No, he accomplishes his goal as a busker". But I don't know how prevalent that attitude/prioritization is, and if it varies depending on the type of skill performed (juggling, balancing, beatboxing, etc.)

Little Paul - - Parent

He sounds more hustler than busker to me.

Terix - - Parent

Why don't you show your best?

mike.armstrong - - Parent

Daniel can give his own answer - but I saw him perform at BJC and I think he did give his best.

He gives his best performance, which isn't the same as his hardest juggling tricks.

Daniel Simu - - Parent

Mike is correct! I want to make the best performance, and that doesn't work if I have to concentrate on the juggling. This seems to be the same for the high end technical jugglers too... Anthony Gatto did tricks in training way beyond what he did on stage.
Sergei Ignatov's warm up included doing his whole 5 ring stage sequence with 7 rings...

The people who perform at the top of their juggling skill level are often regarded as bad performers, at least by me. On a convention open stage this can be fun, but they fail in show business.... I don't want to call out names, but often I've seen videos of acts that really impressed me, but when I saw them live they were either droppy or really didn't know how to deal with the stage...

Even in youth circus this is a thing. As a kid I always wanted to show off my best moves of course, but recently I've seen some acts from youngsters who chose to keep it simple, and that has made their work so much more interesting to watch! :)

Little Paul - - Parent

I think of it as risk management.

The absolute hardest stuff you can do, is inherently risky. You can't hit it every time [1]. If you put that in the show, it'll be droppy and that makes audiences feel uncomfortable.

Training well above the level of what's in your show makes the stuff that *is* in your show more reliable, less risky, less droppy.

Reducing that risk leaves space in your show for the other performance aspects that are required to give the audience a pleasing experience.

For most performers, a happy audience leads to more work (And that's as true on the street as it is on cruise ships as it is on a variety stage or circus ring) - which is important if performing is how you pay for your rent/food.

I've heard several people claim that in some environments (eg cruise ships) some bookers will not rebook you if you drop. So putting your top 10% hardest tricks in the show is a poor business decision.

After all, as they say - "Show Business" is at least as much Business as it is Show.

-Paul
[1] Or "reliably hit it on the third time" which is the traditional "circus" trope for hard stuff

JonPeat - - Parent

I went to a workshop with Donald Grant once.

He said something along the lines of: 'If you fill your routine with tricks which you can hit 90% of the time, then your routine as a whole will be 90% drop free'.

The wording may well have been different but the message is very clear.
If you are happy with a few more drops in the routine as a whole then you could include some more risky tricks. If you want a dropless performance, then tone it down.

As LP says, its all about risk management.

Cheers Jon
(I love that quote from Donald so I bang it out every chance I get!)

lukeburrage - - Parent

I was a guest at the Russian Juggling Convention last weekend, and one of my duties was to judge the IJA Regional Competition. There are six factors that are rated out of 10:

Entertainment Factor
Difficulty of Juggling
Execution of Juggling
Creativity of Juggling
Non-juggling Performance Aspects
Representative of Juggling

The two acts that I rated the highest, and who went on to win the top two prizes, were both so obviously the most professional, and it wasn't due to the non-juggling performance aspects. The thing that made me think they were the most professional was the difficulty level of tricks they chose and how well they executed them. Once an audience member can relax, knowing the performer is in control, it allows them to enjoy the act as a whole. Drops get in the way of the flow of the act and interrupt any character work.

Also there were a number of acts who never landed their final trick. Some didn't get it due to failing once, then running out of time or music (which has lots of easy solutions). Others tried a few times, and failed every time, and then gave up (which also has easy solutions: pick an easier trick or practice more). But in all cases, it destroyed the entertainment factor scores AND the performance scores along with the difficulty and execution scores. Nothing is more annoying than bringing me close to the climax and then stopping before we arrive!

I'm glad it isn't true that cruise ships won't book you again if you drop, in my experience, because my show is about failure and overcoming failure, and I drop plenty in my show. But what I ALWAYS do is nail the final trick, on cue, to the music, even if it means replaying the final 20 seconds of the music again to do so (which I actually do on purpose to build tension).

I'm with Daniel when it comes to being disappointed by big name jugglers who look impressive in videos but then drop too much. Pavel Evsukevich is probably the most disappointing, having seen him perform twice live now, and never seeing him land his final trick, despite a total of maybe six or seven attempts. One performance was at a juggling convention, so whatever, but the other was at a ticketed public event, not for jugglers, and he didn't get close to convincing me he was in control at the end of his act. It's a real pity, because I'd love to see someone do 9 rings with a head bounce!

Daniel Simu - - Parent

I saw that same ticketed public event on another date and had the same bad experience, he was definitely on my mind when I wrote my post....

Kelhoon - - Parent

I am neither pro nor amateur. I classify myself as a hobbyist, I do it for fun, not money.

peterbone - - Parent

Isn't that exactly what amateur means?

Kelhoon - - Parent

I haven't checked the dictionary, but in my head (and maybe only in my head) I feel like there is a difference somehow.

Like, if it was golf, a golf amateur would enter local tournaments, but a golf hobbyist wouldn't. Not that there are juggling tournaments as such. An amateur might aspire to be a professional, a hobbyist wouldn't.

I'm not sure how to verbalise it, but there is a difference to me, a difference in attitude or approach or something.

The Void - - Parent

Peter's right in terms of the derivation of the word. You're right in real-world examples. LP's right in his answer to the original question.
All right!

Little Paul - - Parent

I think the original poster might have meant something slightly different to what I answered though.

I think the intent might have been “what do I need to be able to do to call myself a professional” - which is subtly different.

Then again, there’s also “what does professionalism look like?” - which in my mind is different again, and the gold standard answer to that one is Luke Wilson in my book.

Terix - - Parent

I am interested in all answers, but you are right, I was thinking a lot what it is - professionalism. Because some people who call themselves pro are bad jugglers and some very good jugglers don't call themselves in any way.
Also when a person is amateur and tends to be a professional, there is time when they tell themselves: Now I am pro, not more amateur. Or they ask themselves what to do to be a professional. I'm interested in these reasons and answers and I am happy for all answers here)

DavidCain - - Parent

Yeah, to be technical, if you make money from juggling, you're a professional. If you don't, you're an amateur / hobbyist. It's that simple.

pumpkineater23 - - Parent

There’s not much in the way of financial reward for juggling. Sure, some people earn enough to get by but there isn’t much incentive, financially. So the word ‘pro’ isn’t really associated with being highly skilled or ‘expert’ as it is with other things like basketball, football, golf etc. The rewards of juggling are purely internal.

It's Him - - Parent

I think it is closer to say that there is no financial reward for juggling per se. There is a financial reward to being a good entertainer and that doesn't mean the same thing at all. In fact the people who are most entertaining are generally around the median skill at juggling because their energies are better spent on working out how to be entertaining. Your comparison with sports is misleading, juggling isn't a sport (for professionals). Juggling can be better compared with the arts. If you look at music and compare the earnings of a virtuoso musician with those of a popular musician then that is a closer representation.

Nigel

pumpkineater23 - - Parent

Yes I take your point - a wealthy pro musician isn't necessarily a highly skilled musician. And people don't pay to see juggling skills that are used to defeat other jugglers for entertainment (I was thinking of other skillful manipulation of balls as examples).

There is also far more financial incentive for a musician. Like a sportsman/women, they can use their skills to massive financial reward, they can become superstars but jugglers can't. The same is true for entertainers that use juggling.. perhaps the odd extremely rare occasion.

John R - - Parent

There are about twice as many people employed in theatre, media and performing arts as there are in employed in sports, inluding coaching, in the UK. I admit circus is just a small branch of the theatrical arts, but there are only 17,000 professional sports players, all sports, in the country, compared to many millions of amateurs.

So I think the ratio of professionals to hobbyists is actually much higher in circus and juggling than in sports - it seems much more likely to have full time professionals turn up at your local juggling club and spend two hours practising/drinking tea/chatting than is in football or rugby league! (Put it another way, many sports are so much more popular that the percentage who ever make it as professionals is tiny.)

Mats1 - - Parent

Where did you get these figures?

John R - - Parent

The Office for National Statistics, https://www.ons.gov.uk

The specific data set was EMP04, Employment by Occupation, April - June 2017, https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/employmentandemployeetypes/datasets/employmentbyoccupationemp04

There are 18,000 ship and hovercraft officers, but only 6,000 knitters and weavers.

 

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