Juggling - its history and greatest performers by Francisco Alvarez


There was a time when trying to discover who is who and what is what in juggling quickly led to a dead end. Things are changing. Thanks to the almost unbelievable juggling renaissance that has occurred in recent years, plus the tireless efforts of the International Jugglers Association, jugglers today are better informed than at any other time in history.

The need for the truly definitive book, however, still remains; and while I'm not pretentious enough to believe that I can write such a book, I knew that embarking on a program of intense research and careful preparation of text and graphics was bound to have some success. But the "grand" volume I had envisioned grew to such proportions that for practical reasons it became necessary to handle it as two volumes.

The volume you are holding represents a history of juggling, with comments and observations based on research, and also reflecting my personal experiences in the business. The second volume will contain extensive how-to explanations, but it is still waiting in the wings. In the meantime, enjoy the present volume and please see it as a necessary preparation for what is yet to come. I hope I have gathered and organized enough juggling information to satisfy most readers. But if you want additional historical data, fully illustrated with photographs, you will also want volumes 1 and 2 of Ziethen's 4,000 Years of Juggling. (See Further Reading on the last pages of this volume).

Today juggling is born anew. It has little to do with the circus of old, the Theatre Royal at Drury Lane in the 1720s, or even vaudeville. But to ignore history is a serious mistake. The colors that Cinquevalli and Rastelli lavished upon their juggling palettes still dazzle. And the present reader, however modern, is part of that history.

It is not always clear how history can prepare you for the type of juggling you want to do. Yet history - in any field - has always provided the building blocks on which new ideas can be erected. You can learn from the juggling successes and failures of yesteryear, and history enables you to see the present in proper perspective. Moreover, it has always been nostalgically fascinating to look into the past, not to mention that you can develop good fellowship and joviality with jugglers past and present by knowing more about them.

F. A.
Albuquerque, New Mexico - 1984

And be these juggling fiends no more believed
That palter with us in a double sense,
That keep the word of promise to our ear,
And break it to our hope.
Shakespeare. Macbeth

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Text and illustrations © 1984 Francisco Alvarez
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