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Quick question regarding shoes for juggling stage performances:
Anyone have a favorite style of shoe the like to wear while they perform? I've tried jazz shoes for a few years now, and they tend to not have enough grip for 360s etc. So, any suggestions?
I love feiyues, it's a kungfu shoe which is popular among Chinese pole acrobats and circus students in general. But they don't look great on stage.
For pretty shoes I like Bleyer, custom colors and everything. Email them about their grip soles, for a fiver extra you get great soles on your shoes.
If you need standard smart/dress shoes go to shoesforcrews. They look basic but feel almost like a sneaker and have great grip.
Thank you so much for the suggestions! I've just ordered a pair of Feiyues, and I'm going to be ordering some shoes from Bleyer for an upcoming performance!
Coming from a ballet background, I would say to think about your "push off" technique. You shouldn't need to use your other foot at all to generate rotation. A bad technique can cause injury, it may be worthwhile to attend some dance classes to improve your technique to try to minimise the risk of injury in the longer term.
In ballet, do you use your upper body and arms to generate rotation? That’s cool for dancing, but for juggling you are often using your arms for something else at the time you want to begin generating rotational force.
You use a surprising amount of stomach muscles to generate rotation, with some shoulder (but more stomach than people realise).
Techniques will need to be adapted for juggling (of course), but going to more grippy shoes because of "push off" issues is more likely to cause problems - with the rotating foot getting stuck and twisting knees.
Unless a character would have a reason for wearing different shoes, then I would recommend refining a technique that enables jugglers to avoid knee injury caused by jarring.
You use a surprising amount of stomach muscles to generate rotation, with some shoulder (but more stomach than people realise).
Specifically your internal & external oblique abdominal muscles. So standard sit ups won't help.
If you are doing a lot of 360s then less grippy shoes are a better option.
I think most people have the same instinct that more grip = more force to launch the spin = better spins. However, if you spin with a grippy soled shoe it puts a rotational stress on your knee which is a major cause for knee operations among salsa dancers. This is why you won't find many grippy dance shoes. The other way of looking at the problem is: Reducing friction = less force required to spin = better spins.
I'm convinced that the reason why jugglers who wear trainers get better at 360s is because they gradually wear away the grip from the one foot they consistently spin on.
I started getting problems with my knees due to dancing so I started wearing these Cotton soled kung fu shoes. It took a while to adjust but it has definitely made things easier & I won't be going back.
Yes, I would agree.
The main problem is that the foot that is kicking off the spin does not have enough grip. Which means that there is ultimately not enough force generated to create multiple fast and clean spins.
Those cotton soled shoes look very comfortable!
Hi Ethan, @ all - would it make sense to wear two different shoes (L+R), one for pushing \kicking off, and one for the stance foot turning, maybe? Or have a rubber cap for the pushing foot ( that you can slip over when needed and take off when not anymore ) ? (don't they have it in bowling?)
Ofek Snir is notorious for his super fast spins (7-up 1080!) and he wears a sock on his spinning foot and goes barefoot on his other. Not often appropriate for performing, but he pulled it off in "Sock It".
Ah, okay. Impressing! .. I'd still go with what Dee said above - sounds profund and very plausible. ( So Ofek is maybe an exeption to the rule, with maybe his own technique perfectionned, or maybe evn bluntly doing it wrong and overstressing his anatomy on the long run )
Btw., I myself get dizzy after a one stage 540° turn lol and try it only rarely.
https://www.wired.com/story/the-physicsand-physicalityof-extreme-juggling/ - links to the Edge. The video is nice, too.
Nice. I wouldn't like to question Alex Barron's abilities, but I wonder if that 25 near the end was meant to be a 15? Perhaps not, I dunno!
Jack Kalvan's original paper stated the average was 16 & the highest was 24 so Alex's 25 seems legit.
I actually misquoted myself in my post that's linked to in the article. The original quote in the IJDB article is "Finally, Peter agrees with Ben Beever in his belief that someone will flash 14 balls someday but not 15."
I've always been careful to not say that I think that 15 is impossible, but made one lapse which happens to have been picked up in the Wired article.
I have nothing to lose - I can say it, so here we go:
15 balls is im-poss-si-ble.
sounds like a prophecy... haha
but I think mankind has an ability to overcome seemingly impossible obstacles... regardless of the price to itself, others, the earth, etc...
so, one day, what was impossible, is not anymore :)
Perhaps many 'impossibilities' are overcome able, if the incentive is high enough... With the amount of money and organization that goes into football, I'm sure jugglers could reach an unimaginably high skill level. But is it likely that juggling will ever be that high on the list for future societies?
I suppose that's the bottleneck, people don't care enough.. I recon any young person who really wants to can learn to flash 11 balls, yet only a couple dozen people have done so..
hello everyone! my name is Yonatan, and i have to admit i have already had a thread here a couple of years back about 5 ball training. I'm ashamed to admit though that the reason I'm posting now is the exact same... i took a really really long break from juggling due to leukemia (all fine now! got me some new bone marrow and I'm three years healthy) and a friend of mine who just got back from the ijc convinced me to get back into it, which I'm super excited about.
since my return to juggling a few things bothered my over analytical database-oriented brain. the first thing was that i don't know how people train. so first question, and this is fairly subjective so i know you gonna have more than a few opinions on this (though I'll be glad to know if any of you have a study on the subject):
what do you find the most efficient way for you to train? working for one specific goal the whole session (trying to get this one trick down)? getting all over the place (working your 5 balls for some time, getting tired and changing it up with some 3 ball body throws or even setting the balls aside for a bit and picking up the diabolo)? or working on similar but different tricks (4 ball shower and 5 balls both have hard tall throws, so lets do both)?
I have a notebook i keep my juggling thoughts in, so i might lay a few more on you the next time i get a chance ;).
been training 5 balls using Thom Wall's guide.. wanted to get your input on it (i can get ~25 throws of right 5551, qualified left 5551, get a flash of 5551 in my fountain and semi-consistent flash 5)
Welcome back and I'm happy to hear you're healthy!
I have a few "focus patterns" that I make sure I put some time into every session. Depending on where I am in those patterns and how things are going on that day, the amount of time for each varies from 3-~15 minutes. Then I have some secondary patterns/pattern families that I try to chip away at when I remember.
My warm up tends to be a "whatever I feel like for a little", sometimes with a focus on a certain type of movement (e.g. left-handed dots, body throw combos, etc.). When warming up for numbers, I try to incorporate patterns that are below my skill level, but unpracticed, so that I have to do lots of corrections. Corrections warm up the body very quickly!
I practically only train with balls. I don't have enough time or skill to make meaningful contributions to juggling with a diversity of props. I do play with other props some, but mostly socially and not too seriously.
Thom Wall's guide + sweat + time = 5b cascade :)
hi man! thanks! what do you mean you do corrections? how do you purposely get in a situation you need to correct?
I find that patterns that are unpracticed but below my general technical skill result in having to do many corrections while keeping the pattern alive. The ones I enjoy right now are some flashes of siteswaps out of a 5b reverse cascade. Balls go everywhere, but because I have a pretty solid 5b and those siteswaps are pretty easy for my in a normal cascade, I can wrangle everything back in and repeat.
And if all else fails, I listen to Chandelier by Sia. I can't help but move a bunch after seeing that amazing music video way too many times.
Yeah, downright mindblowing. There are times when I see/hear something that makes me realize I had no idea how good at certain things people are. Sort of like an abrupt mental re-benchmarking Some examples:
William Lin's BJC performance way back
Maddie Ziegler's Chandelier video
When a competitive classical singer that I was teaching chemistry to sang (!!!)
Occasional research papers (the Nobel Prize one on neutrino oscillations where they had to filter out the radioactivity from THE WIRES IN THEIR ELECTRONICS comes to mind, as well as some of the framework-development ones in educational research).
Do you (or anyone else) remember those types of moments? What are some that come to mind?
I'll have to move those up the reading list a bit. Thanks for the recommendations.
Have you read Thinking Fast and Slow? I'm only partially finished it but am enjoying it an awful lot! Go figure: a book that explains part of how your thought patterns work is good at influencing your thought patterns.
oooh, good question... ones that immediately spring to mind.
Lars Andersen - archery
Jane Zhang doing the Diva song from the Fifth Element live with no synthesizer assistance.
Adam Winrich - whip cracking
Sean DeBurca - fingerstyle guitar, I first saw Sean perform live in Tunbridge Wells when he was I think 17 years old, I had never heard fingerstyle before.
Veronika Petrova, Inna Lymar, & Yuriy Danilchenko - skipping
Sometimes when I see something that SHOULD reframe how I see a discipline, I can feel myself rationalizing that I had obviously thought of that before, or that "of course it should be at this level". It's kind of hard to explain, but that's how I felt when I first saw Lars's archery video (and how I used to see Dave Kelly's and Chris Hodge's videos). Almost like they're doing something categorically different, and the stuff they're doing CAN'T be similar to what I've seen before.
That whip cracking video was something else!
I don't know why, but I've randomly encountered so many VERY good skippers. In high school I saw a professional skipper perform in a talent show. At Turbofest in the first few years I went (2010-~2012?) there was a really amazing skipper. In Japan, while walking the streets randomly, I came across this:
It's funny how things happen.
And the middle section of that Raw Art video was very cool!
Congratulations on the health front! Facing leukemia is a far more impressive trick than a 5 ball cascade so this should be easy for you!
Don't focus too much on 5 ball like patterns. Getting a good start when you launch the pattern is really important, & launching 2 balls from one hand is different to launching 3 so make sure you practice that part.
Also try to practice a little bit more than a flash as soon as possible, even if it is just 1 more throw. With a flash it is fairly easy to compensate for errors in rhythm, during the running pattern, not so much.
If you like data & analysis ty keeping a practice log, it can draw graphs for you & everything!
Thanks man! valuable input. so you say i should stick to the flashes to learn launching 5 balls?
the practice log was a major reason to come back here, though i never used it before :P
I think so.
I don't think it is worthwhile breaking down base patterns (3, 5, 7 ball cascade etc) too much. The best practice for a 5 ball cascade is a 5 ball cascade. Breaking things into components only makes sense to me for combination tricks involving different skills, & for more complex patterns where you need to do different types of throw.
In a cascade every ball does the same thing, for 5+ balls the important points are rhythm, accuracy & speed. If you take out a ball for 55550 it is still possible to do the pattern without the correct timing which allows bad habits to develop.
for 5 ball cascade, I warmly recommend this: http://juggling.tv/16767 with 3 balls, the idea being: if you can't do it with 3 balls, how can you expect to get it with five?! And it will be necessary to keep a 5 ball cascade up and to get it stable, that one has at least somewhat of control on most of those dimensions shown in the vid, especially 5b speed (and handspeed) and 5b height (and precision \accuracy \aiming well there), but also for correcting or for working against any drifts, twists, furthermore for controlling the front plane, then for finding your most comfortable and efficient posture, so far for what I can think of.
It's pure cascade training; this approach skips any 4b exercises, but as you seem to be getting along well with the fountain and siteswaps, all this is maybe just a minor alternative. Yet, checking it out at least briefly might find the one or other exercise that could be a precious clue for improving on 5b.
( I'm afraid my practise, though structured mostly after priorities, that i stubbornly work on, a huge ``plight´´-part, "good-fors" and only a small ``leisure´´-part, .. afraid, my practise isn't as efficient as should, so I'd rather not extend on it. )
cheers & happy juggling
Inverted Sprung Fountain
I always feel the need to post here whenever I make big headway on inverted sprung stuff because it was Julius's videos that started me on it. Finally got a short run of inverted sprung fountain!
Psst! I can't see any details of Guelph fest in the events database...
Hi, long time lurker here that decides to come out of the shadows and finally join the tribe where he belongs.
So basically I have been juggling for close to a year, focusing mainly on balls and specially siteswaps. We could argue that all toss juggling has siteswaps at its core but the kind I'm talking about is raw, pure, 'robot-like-juggled' siteswap, with the least flourishing possible (no bxx, pirouettes, weird catches...). Since siteswap combinations are easiest juggled (expressed?) with balls, that makes them become the prop of my choice. The video "Siteswap Montage" by Phil Thompson gave me goosebumps first time I saw it, amongst my favourite jugglers there's Haavard, Matan Presberg, Phil himself and the likes if that helps explaining how much I fancy siteswaps over anything else in juggling. I also dig 3 ball stuff such as Andrew Olson's, Mike Moore and Pumpkineater's, but that stays more on a second term on my training sessions.
There's been a few turns of events that have felt like signs from above and made me seriously consider joining the edge during the last months:
- Last summer I casually met Eivind Dragsjo's older brother and had the pleasure of hanging out with him and juggle together on a regular basis for a couple of months. Meeting him really pushed my juggling and he gave me very nice advice in terms of technique and in general. I got a set of Norwiks through him that I have been juggling with ever since (6months-ish total).
- I have spent this winter in Canary islands and one of these days during a training session in the island of La Gomera a guy approached me, we started chatting and he told me he used to juggle too back in the days. As we dig deeper it turns out he also was a siteswap maniac so the conversation became more interesting and really enjoyable (to both of us I'm pretty sure). In the end he said he was a member of this site, non other than C*C*K (Christoph)! That was really exciting as he encouraged me to not give up and gave me kudos for keeping the training up. We hung out and jam together for about a week and it was really nice as aside from a good juggler he's also a great human. *I believe he is not active anymore but in case you are reading this shoot me a PM and let's catch up!*
- As I said, siteswap is the main focus of my juggling but during yesterday's session I tried a 5b 3up 360 out of the blue and it felt surprisingly at reach. Now, I have never done any 3b nor 4b pirouetting and my spinning technique could definitely use some improvement but regardless, I decided to keep pushing and see if I could qualify the trick cleanly which I eventually did. I was pretty stoked because the learning curve on this one has pretty much been a vertical line! I said screw it, let's join the edge :D.
This summer I plan on hitting conventions left and right around Europe. Ejc, the National French one and Brianza Convention in 10 days (Italy), for instance, are amongst the ones I have already booked tickets for. In 2 days I fly to Madrid as there's a 4day circus meet up (Eucima) and it's gonna be my very first contact with
big festivals and the one kicking off what's hopefully gonna be a summer flooded with juggling. I'm very excited about it all and can't wait to meet and share juggling with like-minded people!
Welcome, ball juggler! Sounds like you've had some exciting encounters with jugglers.
Thanks Mike, I only wish for them to keep coming. Those particular two I mentioned came at a point where I needed a motivation boost and they definitely delivered, hands down. Maybe what I need is to feel demotivated again and Anthony Gatto will just bump into me?
Good to see i'm not the only new member today!
In my continuing obsession with different balls, I'd love to give Norwiks a try some time - perhaps i'll bump into you at a convention!
Hey definitely! I've said it numerous times but I'll be out and about in Northern Europe this Summer (Germany, France etc..) so if you plan on attending fests say so :D
What is your current go to ball of choice for your sessions? Does it depend on what you plan on practicing?
I doubt I'll be venturing outside of the UK too much this year myself, but the European fests look great so I hope you enjoy!
Favourite balls (at the moment...) are the uglies bags/balls, but I picked up some of the 130g Pro Sport balls at BJC and I've been getting along pretty well with those. I'm finding the increased weight helps keep my throws a little more controlled when I'm trying for clean runs of five balls.
That said, I end up getting longer runs when I switch back to the uglies though - probably just having warmed up a bit more by then.
I end up doing quite a lot outside even in autumn/winter, so I find the MMX and Sil-X styles are good when the ground is wet/muddy, but I've only ever had a small play with Russian-style ones so they're still intriguing to me.
Generally the type I use depends more on WHERE i'll be juggling than what i'll be doing!
Hey! Catching up after Eucima in Madrid. IT. WAS. A. BLAST! :D Met tons of really cool people, some siteswapers too, weather was great and the gala was remarkably good (Wes Peden, amongst other veeery good artists, was on it btw!). Aaaand... I ended up 1st on the standing in one leg combat in the games and won a cool 10mm SIL-X contact ball, as well as a pass for another fest in Spain. I was definitely not seeing that one coming!
Loving the implication that siteswappers aren't cool people!
How many people roughly attended Eucima? The website suggests it is a pretty big event, & the gala show looks as if it was pretty amazing! I'm not sure if anyone has told you but this is a standard length festival review that we expect here on the Edge. :P
Also what's the name of the festival you won a ticket for? I've not got any events in the database for Spain this year (I've just retrospectively added Eucimna 2018).
Siteswapers definitely deserve to be put in a different category, they have a special place in my heart! :)
The organization of Eucima guesstimated that there was up to a 1000people at the festival, which at naked eye seemed like a reasonable amount. Will look into the review standars and probably fill a proper one later on today or tomorrow, that will be fun... :P
The festival I won tickets for is taking place in Pradoluengo, situated in northern Spain, during 15-16-17 June. I had the Berlin juggling convention in mind so I'm likely going to give away the pass to any acquaintance that would wanna mission up there. After speaking with the representative of Pradoluengo's festival at Eucima he said it was fine if I did that. I also struggled to find a website/fb event about the festival, just some random posts mentioning it so I guess it's under preparation.
The 31st British Juggling Convention, Canterbury
Tuesday, 3rd April
I felt very strange going into this one. I have had a lot of family issues over the past year & I wasn't sure if I was going to attend right up to the point I left home. I've only made one appearance at TWJC since the last BJC & that represented all the juggling practice I have done since the last BJC too. For some reason I didn't feel that I deserved to be there. However, I was warmly welcomed & accepted by everyone, both old friends & new, & for that I am extremely grateful. Thank you to you all.
I arrived on site at 17:00, which was the advertised start time. Just behind me in the reg desk queue was Louisa (not Laura) who gave me my first hug of the festival. Just behind her was fellow TWJC member Richard but because he has never been to the BJC before I didn't register that it was him until my second pass through the queue! Also received a lovely welcome from Tor (my perpetual HLGCBS crush) in the reception, then Hannah, Chunk & Bungle from SJC before we found where Kevin, Nicola, Duncan & John had initiated the TWJC camp.
I got my tent up quickly then we went for a quick explore of the site. There was plenty of camping space available around the outside of the sports pitches with toilets & showers close by (to where we were pitched at least) in the separate pavilion building. The enormous Spinning@ tent & a knife throwing range being run by the Essex Backyard Throwers. The main building housed the show hall which was open for practice space during the day & used for shows in the evening, a dance studio for workshops, a climbing hall for big workshops & practice space, & the canteen which was home to Montegriffo's Frying Circus.
Outside were the Veggies catering van, while Love Waffles were set up in another building. There was a separate building for the balloon modellers, 3 outdoor huts for workshops, another 3 outdoor huts for the traders (which were quite out of the way of the regular convention foot traffic). Another building contained the main juggling hall, a few more showers & also the Lazy Juggler bar upstairs.
We poked our heads into the main hall which already had the distinctive aroma of a well used juggling hall. We went upstairs for a drink at the bar & found it was much more pleasant to watch the hall from the viewing window! There were lots of unfamiliar faces in the hall which was good to see.
The pass for the event was a tiny glass bottle of bath salts/glitter on a ribbon. It was also noted that the 'no glass allowed in the main hall' rule was a bit of a contradiction. My pass also didn't survive past my third hug, I spent the rest of the convention with the ribbon round my neck & the bottle in my coat pocket.
Wednesday, 4th April
Breakfast is by far the most important meal of the day. It is something we take very seriously at TWJC so it was a dent to our pride that we were not first in the queue at 08:00 on Wednesday morning. Not that it really mattered when we found out that the team weren't serving until 09:00. I wasn't too fussed but the coffee drinkers in the queue were mortified!
We killed time by perusing the workshop board which took the form of a grid made from coloured tape stuck to the large windows along the side of the show hall. Workshops were written up on individual cards & stuck in the relevant spot. It looked pretty but unfortunately the bright back light from the outside sun made it very difficult to read & even more difficult to photograph unless you were close enough for the individual cards to blot out the sun.
I also enjoyed all the student artwork that covered every available bit of wall. All of it was very good, & some of it was excellent. I particularly liked the black & white portraits in the seating area for the canteen.
When 09:00 rolled round I was a little disappointed. It was ok but the portion was small, the bacon was tough, the mushrooms lukewarm & for £8 including a cup of tea I expect a lot more.
I spent the rest of the morning in the show hall trying to remember what all this circus skill lark is about. I managed some satisfying handstands, although I think this was probably down to my improved physical condition rather than maintained ability. I also did some club passing with Richard before we were interrupted by the fire alarm which forced us out into the car park in front of reception. I waited it out chatting to Dee, Tor & Helena & enjoyed coming up with unsubstantiated theories as to the cause & casting blame accordingly. After a disappointing lack of firemen I returned to the show hall & continued with some 3, 4 & 5 club practice. All of which was dreadful.
At midday I joined in with an RPG session being run by last year's main organiser Stephen. I've been looking for something new to try & have been enjoying the Dungeons & Randomness Podcast (start at Arc 2: episode 1. It's really well done) so I thought I'd give it a go. The game of the session was Everyone is John, all of the players are a different voice with unique obsessions in the head of John, a poor chap with a severe multiple personality disorder. The aim of the game is to take control of John by bidding with your limited supply of will power then get him to perform actions related to your obsessions to score points. Not knowing anything about the game my choice of obsessions were very poor, my top obsession was free dive for 10 minutes, which turned into stay underwater for 10 minutes cumulatively. I managed to genuinely achieve 3 minutes 31 seconds. It was a very bizarre session & lots of fun.
I then took a break to cook myself some parsnips & pancetta & whiled away the afternoon drinking cider & chatting until...
The Spinning@ Show
Our compère for the show introduced herself as Miss Glitterface which was certainly descriptive. She was clearly spoken & very confident but I felt she went a little overboard trying to control audience applause levels. If people want to applaud, you should let them do so!
The show got off to a great start with Rico Titou from France performing a beautiful hoop routine where I think every move was in the vertical plane but still mostly on the body rather than just around the arms. He was very fluid, used the whole stage & at a time when 'generic hoop act' is in danger of entering my list of go to phrases for convention reviews Rico showed a lot of originality.
This was followed by Tony Nowhere with a rope dart act it might have been good but I don't know because it was unfortunately ruined by being an unnecessary glow routine. I'm sure there was lots of interesting things being done with the rope in the dark but all I could see was a bright spot of light either drawing a circle or going back & forth across the stage like the face of a 1970's Cylon.
Next up we had another hooper. She had a great sparkly costume & clearly enjoyed being onstage, she was very good but unfortunately it felt a bit too much like a generic hoop act. I can't pick out anything unique or special that I haven't seen before.
This was followed by Stanley Styx with an unnecessary glow staff routine. It was unnecessarily bright too, I couldn't look directly at the prop. It was a staff routine with overly dramatic music & a daft storyline. I'm sure all the contact moves were very interesting but in the dark it just looked like a really slow staff routine.
Pixie Patch tried a clown routine. In this instance the glow hoop was not just unnecessary, it was a brick wall preventing any enjoyment of the routine. If you are going to do any sort of clowning, I need to see your face. With the lights down I couldn't see any expressions or connect with the performer in any way.
Thankfully Ben Cornish rescued the show by performing with the lights on! He did the walking round the isolated suitcase skit & a bit of ball spinning. However, due to injury he couldn't do much of the spinning so the audience was in the awkward position of wanting him to succeed at the trick but didn't want him to hurt himself. What the act lacked in material Ben made up for with charisma, he was funny, charming & delightful.
Also performing with the lights on was Sam with a fast paced technical bar flair act. He performed lots of rolls, spins, stalls & traps with a big smile.
I was suffering some pretty severe hoop-fatigue at this stage in the show but Alice still managed to blow me away with a sensational melancholic hoop routine. Everything she did was flawlessly stylish & graceful. Instead of a checklist of flashy hoop tricks the routine consisted only of moves that fit the character, but was still highly technical. This was a great example of the performer being the focus instead of the prop. She maintained character with her body language, facial expressions & pace of movement almost to the end, only breaking I think to celebrate a job exceptionally well done.
After that I think it was Boris with a nice 1 & 2 diabolo routine using a loop of string instead of sticks. I haven't seen this style for years so it was a very pleasant change. Excellent skills well executed. Oh & with the lights on too!
Act of the show was Lukie the box monkey performing with 3, 4 & 5 cigar boxes. It was highly energetic & crammed from start to finish with ridiculously difficult tricks. There were quite a few drops but Lukie's personable nature on stage meant the whole audience was with him all the way willing him to succeed. Allegedly the routine was only put together in a couple of hours, but I'm not sure I believe that.
The show finished with another hoop act this time from Callum & Lisa. It's ok but still an unnecessary glow routine. I think the performers were a bit rattled too because the sound tech used a snippet of their music for the previous act which must have been off putting.
I'm glad I saw this show. The lows were low, but the highs were exceptional & more than made it worth my while. Remember kids, just say no to glow.
Thursday, 5th April
I made my own breakfast this morning (Eggy Bread - beat one egg per slice of bread, soak bread thoroughly in beaten egg, fry for about 1 min each side, spread with English mustard #recipe) which set me up well for the day. I spent the morning up in the bar area writing, then I joined Susannah, Lyn, Void & Guy to solve a cryptic crossword. I even managed to solve a clue, which is one more than I usually do.
At midday I joined in with another RPG session with Stephen. This time the game was called Lasers & Feelings, a more traditional RPG game where everyone plays individual characters trying to accomplish a mission, which in our case was to stop mind controlling parasites from reaching Earth. I played a yellow custard coloured android. As it turned out my disembodied leg turned out to be more useful than the rest of my character.
After lunch I enjoyed another chilled afternoon eating, drinking & chatting in the sunshine before heading into the hall for...
Our host for the evening was Devilstick Peat who is clearly enjoying the Tommy Cooper style of magic which he performed in between most acts.
Kicking off the action were Chris & Eilidh with an acro routine. The balances were a bit shaky but the routine had lots of daring moves & there were no mistakes that I could see. I enjoyed the ballroom dancing interludes in between moves & fantastic costumes too. Ivana got off to a droppy start with her hat routine but she got stronger as the routine went on. Her 3 hat work was superb, I particularly liked the sequence where she rotated 3 hats between her hands & head while twirling across the stage on her knees. I would like to see this act again.
I was initially dubious when John & Steph took to the stage with their glow poi, however the lights stayed on & their outfits were simply stunning. They performed a beautifully choreographed partner poi routine with lots of very well executed sequences all with slick transitions. It was clear they had put a huge effort into the presentation of the act. I was most impressed with the fast side to side step across the stage while standing front to front, yeah the intertwining poi was nice but the footwork was exquisite! Both performers wore massive smiles & clearly enjoyed being on stage.
Cameron & Mark entertained with a ring passing routine featuring an excellent mix of both technical & silly entertaining tricks all performed with good humour & a great connection with the audience. Daniel performed an excellent comedy ball juggling piece. Despite being dressed in a simple grey t-shirt & shorts he was able to brighten the stage with personality alone. He very quickly built a strong rapport with the audience only using one of the most expressive faces I have ever seen.
Keith & Antonia filled the stage with their poi passing routine featuring lots of slick behind the back catches, which were surprising because the passes were low, fast & horizontal rather than high & floaty like most throws that lead to a behind the back catch.
Closing the show was Arthur Hyam with a new diabolo routine. Lots of tough tricks with 1 to 3 diabolos, it was pretty droppy but he kept his composure throughout.
All in all a great show.
Friday, 6th April
On a tip from another juggler Kevin, Louisa & I walked down the road to find the Lime Tree Cafe hidden behind the Sainsbury's supermarket. We were gutted to find out that they weren't serving a full English that day but we enjoyed excellent bacon in beautiful soft white baps & a nice cup of tea. It was a lovely pristine cafe overlooking the county cricket ground which was busy with people hurling cricket balls at batsmen using those flexible tennis ball launchers you often see dog walkers use. It was a bit unfair I thought but very entertaining as the trainers were not always particularly accurate. It made me wonder how fast a fast bowler could bowl if they could use one in competition. Before we left Kev made the staff promise that they were definitely serving a full breakfast tomorrow at least 3 times.
Back on site we prepared for the long day in Margate. Buses left site at midday & 40 minutes later dropped us off at Dreamland. The info booklet told us our pass entitled us to a free ride or some free food at one of the concession stands, neither of which turned out to be true. I certainly didn't feel like paying any of the high asking prices for the basic fairground attractions. There was one side attraction that I felt would have been pretty easy pickings for the aerialists & rock climbers among the BJC crowd where you had to hang from a bar for 2 minutes. I admit I was tempted to have a go but put off by the prospect of winning an absurd oversized stuffed toy. Many attractions were closed or under construction, the bar was mugging patrons for £5 a pint, the roller disco floor was the size of a postage stamp. To make things worse before the games started we were subjected to the excruciating Story time with Peter Rabbit show, a patronising screechy affair narrating the actions of someone in a stuffed animal costume. I died a little inside. For those that couldn't believe it the first time they did it again an hour later.
Devilstick Peat & Russell Wells got the games underway. I watched Felix win the brief 5 club endurance in windy conditions & Lucy put in a great performance to win the unicycle gladiators. I got bored with the prolonged balloon modelling race & joined Kevin, John & Gabor to explore Margate & scout out somewhere to eat for Louisa to join us later. It took us a while to find the exit through the park's last ditch attempt to fleece customers of their loose change otherwise known as the 'amusement' arcade but we finally managed to reach safety. However, Margate was a very depressed town of soulless amusement arcades & uninspiring eateries in between boarded up shops & litter. We spent our time exploring the handful of interesting antique/bric-a-brac stores, all of which were charging antique prices for bric-a-brac. I did like the 7ft imitation bear though.
We decided that the Weatherspoons pub was the only safe option for something to eat & bagged a table before it got too crowded. I left the group to find Louisa who was MIA. I was beginning to fear that she might have slipped into a coma in Dreamland & that I might have to go back in to get her out which was quite the emotional crisis. Fortunately she emerged while I was figuring out just how much I was willing to pay someone else to go in & get her.
Back at Weatherspoons we ordered food & settled in for the advertised 30-40 minute but in reality 1 hour wait for food & amused ourselves by pinging origami frogs at each other courtesy of another juggler on the next table. After gorging ourselves we ambled to the other side of town to the Wintergarden Theatre for...
The Gala Show
On entering the theatre we were greeted by a superb giant balloon sculpture of the convention's troll mascot, animated by volunteers with long poles. Easily the best BJC balloon sculpture yet.
Unfortunately most of the seating was flat, the only raked seating mostly had views partly obscured by pillars. We decided to sit in the flat seating, hoping their wouldn't be much low level action.
Our compère for the evening was Matthew Tiffany who entertained with a Brunn combination trick, spinning a 3 ball stack, some teaspoon balancing & some songs on the banjo in between acts.
Jon Udry kicked off the proceedings with some nice ball through the rings juggling, some of his fantastic 3 club technical skills, a daft 3 ball strip tease (just his jacket) before finishing with his 5 helium balloon juggling. I really enjoy his dry sense of humour & his comedy skills are improving every time I see him.
This was followed by Ben Nichols performing as Professor Circumference's assistant. It finished with an interesting way to get into a 5 ball cascade by holding 3 balls in place on top of a beach ball using a juggling ring, then dropping the whole lot on the floor which launched the 3 balls into the air in perfect formation. It was a nice act but felt very low energy after following on from Jon Udry.
Ratcheting things up again was Jan Himself with a superb high skill diabolo act with lots of Zoolander-esque male model humour. A lot of the gags involved his phenomenal waist length hair which he incorporated into his diaboloing. This was a really really really really good looking act.
I was very surprised to see Paul Zenon listed in the info booklet. I loved watching him perform when variety was a thing on UK TV in the 90s. Paul is a great magician & comedian & I was really enjoying his act until it was unfortunately cut short by a stage hand angrily demanding that he get off the stage. It was not immediately clear why this was the case, & there was no explanation given. If it was the adult humour he used it was certainly no worse than that used by Jon Udry or Tiff. If it was the cigarette that he was performing a trick with surely this should've been picked up in advance? Regardless the episode completely ruined an otherwise very enjoyable act.
Helena Berry opened the second half with a wonderfully moody acrobatic juggling piece. There were lots of walkover, handstand & cartwheel moves with balls balance on her feet, then a lot of interesting juggling patterns involving catching balls on the sole of her right foot. She struggled a bit with the 5 ball cascade to foot catch finish but it was genuinely satisfying when she did manage to land it.
I was really looking forward to seeing Loz Because because (I can't believe that has never come up in my writing before) she is one of my favourite performers. I love her manic comedy style so I was disappointed when she performed an unnecessary glow routine I think there was lots of nice subtle technical skills lost in the darkness. I did like the Streetfighter 2 reference though.
The Berlin Passing Girls are a 4 strong troupe from Germany who were very technically adept & filled the stage in all 3 dimensions with big many club passing patterns. The act had a lot of parallels with the Gandini Juggling Project. It was a well choreographed routine but I felt some of the transitions were a little slow for my liking & it lacked that little extra polish that the Gandini's bring.
Rounding off the evening was BJC favourite Steve Rawlings being Steve Rawlings. You've all seen his act, you all know how good he is. Was he brilliant? Of course he was!
Saturday, 7th April
Saturday started with a bit of light rain, but not enough to stop Kevin, Laurence & I wandering down to the cafe for breakfast where we met ball spinning Peter & enjoyed large English breakfast featuring lovely soft bacon, superb sausages & free tea/coffee refills for £7. It was a lovely meal, served by pleasant staff & enjoyable company.
Back on site I joined the last of Stephen's RPG sessions. The name of the game was Actual Cannibal Shia Lebeouf, & the aim is to kill or escape from Hollywood actor Shia Lebeouf. This game felt a bit unfair the odds always seemed to be stacked against us, but it was still fun to play thanks to the other players. I was the first player to die in an adventure where almost all of us perished but as a team we were victorious.
I then went back to my tent to cook myself some food, during this time I had to actively avoid the burning sun. I regretted not packing my shorts.
A great place to avoid the sun was the Spinning@ tent for an audience with Steve Rawlings. Steve was open to every question, full of fascinating stories & gave useful advice from experience. It was a very funny & entertaining session which could have gone on for hours.
The panel of judge's this year consisted of Ben Cornish, Natalie Randall & Matthew Tiffany. Jon Udry took on compère duties.
I sadly can't remember the names of the young acrobatic trio who opened the show. They were all extraordinarily bendy, as only kids can be. They did lots of synchronised tumbling into splits positions. They lacked a bit of confidence & were a little hesitant at times but they got through their well choreographed routine without any errors as far as I could see. A cracking start.
Next up was Becca with a staff routine. She had a great costume & presented herself well, again she lacked a bit of confidence but kept smiling & worked through her piece which was well choreographed to her backing music. My only real complaint was she was too static, she never really left the centre of the stage.
Jonny performed a technical ball juggling routine with 3 to 7 balls. There was a lot of variety but the performance had too many drops for it to build any momentum.
Young Sophie presented a glow poi routine which was fine but unfortunately for me she did the routine with one set of poi, then pretty much did the same routine again with another set of poi that had long tails which was just unnecessary. The takeaway lesson from this act is: if you have 3 minutes of material, just do a 3 minute act. Short acts are perfectly ok!
The next act was Chris with his S-staff. This was not my thing at all, the isolations were unconvincing & the routine was repetitive. My main frame of reference for this type of act is Nik Robson-King who is mesmerising to watch, sadly Chris had none of the magic. I am well aware that it's pretty unfair of me to compare him to Nik because that is a very high bar to live up to.
I wisely walked out on Peter practicing earlier in the week when I learned that he would be competing in BYJOTY. I prefer to be surprised, & I know I judge acts more harshly if I've seen it before. He stormed through a fantastic spy themed walking globe routine. It featured loads of tricks I haven't seen before such as a leapfrog mount over a globe onto another one, a 3 ball 1-up 180° on 2 globes. My favourite trick was when he put a globe into a fast horizontal spin then leapt on & maintained the balance until the spin stopped. Bonus points for his young assistant being suitably decked out in black clothes & sunglasses too! It's the little touches like this that make an act special.
Closing the show was Circomedia student Eilidh Sela with a very high end hoop act. Her advanced training was evident from the start, the whole routine was very slick & professional. She looked great & was able to throw in the incidental smiles & connections with the audience that only comes when you are very comfortable with your skills. She rattled through all the tricks at a blistering pace yet was still tight to the musical queues. Fantastic stuff.
While the judges retired to deliberate their decision Jon kicked off the best trick competition. The drop count competition wasn't particularly popular this year which meant the prize fund was only £12. This fact combined with the length of time that the best trick section went on for meant that it violated the UK minimum wage law.
The judges returned to award Peter & Eilidh silver awards & Eilidh the Judge's Choice. Once the votes were counted Peter picked up the BYJOTY title. It was tough to call between Peter & Eilidh. I think Eilidh was the better performer, but the market for accomplished hoop acts is becoming saturated whereas Peter's routine had the benefit of originality & rarity.
Other stuff probably happened then it was time for another episode of...
Our panellists for the evening were The Void, Jamie Fletcher, Mandy Blake & Devilstick Peat. They were kept under control (mostly) by Ashby Winch. I particularly enjoyed hearing about Void's experience's of working with Max & about Mandy growing up in the early UK convention scene. It was a fun, laid back show in which everyone was entertaining.
Sunday, 8th April
I cooked my own breakfast then spent the rest of the morning doing some juggling & handstand practice in the show hall. My handstands are improving, I managed to stay standing after being struck by an errant diabolo twice.
The BJC meeting was very positive. I was very impressed with how effective Anna's opening preemptive strike against some of the obvious complaints was. I also think every BJC meeting should feature a scone vs scone pronunciation fight.
Jane talked about all the developments for next year's EJC 2019 which is going to be awesome. Keep an eye out for tickets, you can be the first to know by signing up to the email news letter.
At present there are no bids for a BJC in 2019. If you have a proposal, no matter how tentative, please do come forward.
After a bit more food it was time for the Fight night qualifying. 31 of us registered to take part, we were split into 2 groups & then worked through matches until everyone in group A had played everyone in group B. The climbing gym was too small for everyone to play at once so we set up a queuing system so that there were only around 8 games happening at any one time. This helped by giving us players a little bit of a rest between matches & allowed us to watch some of the games which I appreciated. Cameron beat me 3-0 with ease early on. Felix Surbe beat me 3-1. I'm not going to dwell on the 3, I'm going to focus on the 1 which was the greatest point I have ever scored. I managed a very clean lunging strike at full stretch on one of Felix's clubs just before he could catch it, my high throw was a bit wayward though forcing me to run & slide on both knees to make the save. Unfortunately I didn't slide on the nice slippy part of the hall, I slid on the grippy black rubber section of the floor which took all the skin off of my left knee & some of my right. I couldn't kneel down for the rest of the festival, but for that brief moment I looked good. I also lost 3-1 to Rob Woolley. I had a very satisfying 3-2 win over Stephan Cipra. Stephan is a very fast player who literally ran rings around me, I spent most of the match standing in the centre fending off his attacks but I was able to take advantage whenever he extended himself that little bit too far. Other than that I think I won everything else 3-0. Sadly my last match ended in disaster. I was playing Joe Wonham, we were at 2-2. He threw a club up & came at me for an attack, I tracked back a little then made a high throw & reached to swipe at Joe's descending club, while I was watching Joe's club I think Joe leapt in an attempt to catch my high club. I batted his club just in time to clout him in the face. I didn't realise this at the time so I caught my club & juggled to a clean finish, I turned to thank Joe for the game only to find him crouched & holding a bleeding nose. Arse.
I'd like to say sorry again to Joe for causing the injury & a big thank you to Stephen as the first-aider on hand for taking good care of him.
The results were totted up & 12 of us were selected for the main tournament to be held later in the evening. I was pleased to have made it through so I thought I'd go back to my tent for a brief nap before the main event at 22:00. I woke up & looked at my phone which said 21:57 so with a little bit of a panic I made it to the main hall in time for...
The arena was set up at one end of the main hall, Ieuen acted as referee, Dee kept score & Rosie Kelly did a fantastic job as the commentator making up lots of ridiculous facts about the competitors. My favourite line of the evening was, "Callum is sponsored by outer space".
True to form I went out in the first round losing 5-4 to Lukas Bonauer, but at least I didn't make anyone else bleed, although I did come close when I went crashing into the commentator's table.
Jon Peat surprisingly steam-rolled the number 1 seed, Brook Roberts 5-0 in the semi final. I have a long & glorious history of losing all the points-0 against Jon, but Brook?! Callum Lawrie pulled off a superb victory against number 2 seed, Cameron Ford to join Jon in the final. Callum lead Jon 4-3, when Jon won the next point he amusingly thought he'd won! Jon also took the last point to win the title with a well deserved 5-4 victory.
Well done to all involved, especially Ieuen for organising the whole thing.
Monday, 9th April
Monday was pack down day so I spent the day carrying fencing to the end of the car park, moving tables & chairs back into class rooms & litter picking. Thank you to everyone who chipped in to help, especially on the last day.
It was particularly lovely to see Anna & Jak smiling & laughing after a very successful event.
Being mentioned 4 times in one review. I feel... honoured!
It was great to have you in all my games though, and I do hope you'll join me again (hopefully @ Bungay if I run them!)
Games at Bumgay!!
Good heavens, whatever next?
Someone will be suggesting workshops if this trend continues, fetch my smelling salts someone I'm close to fainting...
I've put together a survey aimed at people who attended BJC this year. Please fill in if you have a chance.
This is to help future organising teams convince towns and venues that we are a worthwhile event - one of the ways of doing that is by showing we spend money in the local area! Your answers will also help future teams to improve BJC, and help work out what is worth spending money on.
Already really interesting data coming out of it. Rough calculations so far (scaling up the respondees total spend on attractions and accommodation to the number of over 18 attendees) indicate that this year's BJC was worth at least £25.5k to the local area. That is a good number to present to local councils/tourism boards etc.
I am enjoying the comments section of the form very much. Whoever it was that completed it most recently is my favourite comment so far ;-)
So I'm planning on a couple of reports... one very much aimed at local councils and tourism bureaus with the spending jugglers do and local impact we have, and the other for BJC orgs about what people want and don't want from a BJC.
The most sensible place to put these is the BJC wiki, so that's where they'll go.
Deadline... a couple of days? I need to write up before this baby arrives, which is anytime from now!
Done! For the question "will you come next year", you could add an option to specify "No because of EJC". I myself would come back in 2020 because there is no EJC there!
It cannot be guaranteed there won't be an EJC in the UK in 2020, the vote to decide where EJC 2020 hasn't taken place yet.
Just your basic ballet, contemporary dance, acro, capoeira, clown, slapstick routine
It's a bit bizarre & honestly I think half of you will hate it, but I really enjoyed this piece. I think there is a lot of originality here.
If nothing else watch the move at 5:58.
Thanks Jon. It was mostly for Orin's "benefit", but I'm glad to know that it was appreciated!
Well, there it is 9 minutes long, there is no toss juggling involved & it is very experimental compared to mainstream circus acts.
Now that I've used the word experimental I'm wondering when an experiment is deemed a success when it comes to circus/theatre which is something I've never thought about before. Probably when it gets copied by others!
To me, this isn't very experimental. It's a fun dance/acro/dance routine, and while it has an interesting mix of styles of body movement I've not personally seen before, it isn't really pushing the boundaries of contemporary circus. Compared to traditional circus, sure, if that's what you mean by "mainstream", but this, to me, is very much in the mainstream of contemporary circus.
What does experimental mean?
It's definitely beyond the stage of experiment, they know very well that the stuff they do on stage will "work". But a lot of the moves are original, and their relationship not easily definable... But then again that is the case in a lot of contemporary acro shows.
I loved it, the first bit looks like it is played backwards! Very cool.
(Thanks to Sadie, who knew I'd like it and sent it to me in a message)
You can now download all your data if you want it.
As previously mentioned the GDPR is new legislation which mandates stricter controls for personal data of EU citizens & gives you the user more rights on how your data is treated. It comes in to effect on 25th May 2018. I have no idea how they think they are going to enforce it.
I've been tweaking lots of things over the past few weeks to comply with the legislation.
The only major missing part of the puzzle was data portability. As a webmaster handling personal data I need to provide you with a way to download that data should you wish to move to another service or if you just want to see what I know about you. To that end you now have a new page where you can get at everything I've got, you will find a link to 'My data' on your home page & your profile page.
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