European convention site, Castelar de la Frontera, Spain (Toby Philpott photo)
I learned to juggle outdoors, in the shadowless light of the sun in California and Mexico, with a clear blue sky as a perfect, non-glaring background. I have just revived these 13-year-old memories with a visit to the site for the 9th European Convention in Spain in 1986.
Castellar de la Frontera is a village in and around a castle built by the Romans, near Gibraltar on the border between Africa and Europe. The village has a long history, including occupation by the Moors, but that's another story.
I came to Castellar in my official role as European Director of the IJA to talk to the cultural association of the village. It was late September and the air was hot and still as Mick Swain and I climbed an old Roman track to the castle. Both the climb and the view from the top took our breath away! Though there are foreign residents in the village, and both goat-herds and intellectuals amongst the Spanish people in the bar, this is a community and not a tourist place.
It is an adventure and an experiment for them to invite jugglers for a convention, just as it is for us to have a convention in such a small community. In its brief history, the European convention has become very large, and much more complicated to arrange. People in Europe do not appear to want a formal organization, but they do want an annual meeting. This September we offer an experiment, the outdoor convention.
This is not an air-conditioned, controlled environment for juggling. It is real world, medieval street-juggling territory, with few flat and level places -- just cobbled alleys and plazas. Dig out your medieval costumes and your second-best props. Bouncing is awkward, so this could be the year of the bean bag.
Some people could stay in the cheap Spanish "pensiones" in nearby villages and travel to the castle daily by shuttle bus. Some could stay with people of the village itself, while others park their vans and buses on the uneven spaces by the road to the castle. Camping will be possible, but the ground is rocky so a sleeping mat or air bed might be useful. There may be circus tents for those with only sleeping bags.
The practical problems of convention week will be harder than in a city. The tap water is fine for washing, but tastes chlorinated. Fresh water comes from a spring down the hill, but it is a beautiful walk down a track built by the Romans. There are few flushing toilets in the village, but we will arrange a temporary toilet system to cope with the added numbers, as the countryside could not hygienically absorb us all.
I don't foresee any major problems with the practicalities, as jugglers are adept at improvisation. Problems may begin to appear, however, if the numbers of people arriving is too large for the available resources or if they stay too long. We don't wish to restrict the numbers, but it would be useful to estimate how many people are interested. If you would send a post card with your address to the Cultural Association and mention whether you will be self-sufficient or require housing it would be helpful. Don't expect personal replies, as further information will be released through "Juggler's World" and "Kaskade." The mailing list will be used for late announcements in the summer.
This convention is for the Travelling Players. The castle may be magic, but remember that you will be living more like a serf than a duke, so don't bring anything really valuable -- bring a water bottle and some food instead.
This will be a place for socializing, in a small community used to a mixture of languages -- a market place for friends and ideas. I have always thought of our meetings as a forum rather than a formal convention, and this is the perfect place for unexpected sights and happy reunions, with a surprise around every corner!
Four members have signed up for life! Two members of the board of directors and two other people have become the IJA's first Life Members.
The $250 cost of this category of membership carries with it several privileges:
The IJA's life members at this point are:
Why don't you join them? Send in your tax-deductible $250 life membership check to: IJA, Box 29, Kenmore, NY 14217.
Members' dues should be mailed to Box 29, Kenmore, NY 14217 on the anniversary of your last payment. That date is marked on your membership card. Dues renewal is $15 for individuals and $17 for a family membership, with the following supplements applying to cover cost of special mailing of Juggler's World: First class USA -- add $3; Canada and Mexico -- add $3; Europe, South America and Africa -- add $7; Asia and South Pacific -- add $9. Your membership expiration date will be printed on your mailing label in the near future, so this information will be easier to track.
While you're at it, why don't you help the IJA and boost your membership category. $250 will make you a life member, meaning you never have to send in dues again. $100 qualifies you as a sustaining member, and $25 is the level of contributing membership. All members in these categories will receive special notation in the IJA Roster. Remember, your donations to the IJA are tax deductible!
Airjazz and beach balls (l-r) Kezia Tenenbaum, Jon Held, Peter Davison
A galaxy of international juggling stars will attend the IJA's 39th Annual Convention July 22-27 in San Jose, California. Dai Shu Cheng of the Heilong Jaing Acrobatic Troupe in China will represent that country. A Russian juggler is also expected to be present, though final details were not set at press time. Several European artists will be there, including ball spinner Francois Chotard from France "Duo High Fidelity" and Michael Genahr and Karin Johnson from West Germany.
American-based jugglers who plan to be there and perform in one of two featured shows include Airjazz, Tommy Curtin and Anthony Gatto. Robert Nelson, the Butterfly Man, will emcee the "Juggling, and Other Delights" public show in San Jose's 2,700-seat Center for the Performing Arts. An IJA-only "Sensations of '86" private show will be emceed by Scott Meltzer and John Park, the American Dream team.
In addition to those shows, the convention includes a wide variety of workshops covering aspects of juggling from how to sell your act to manipulation of specific props. Allan Jacobs, renowned as one of the world's top club swingers, will present a pre-convention three-day workshop in that specialty.
Convention co-chairmen Barry and Sue Bakalor assure convention goers there won't be a dull moment. "We've tried to take the basic structure of past conventions and add some special events we think people will really enjoy," said Barry. Besides the private show, those touches include a street performer's competition, costume ball, parade in downtown San Jose and a Saturday evening banquet. The more than 120 members of the San Jose Juggling Society are expected to pitch in to make sure things run smoothly.
IJA championships will be held throughout the week. The Numbers Challenge will feature new rules designed to give competitors a better chance to reach their potential. The monetary prize for the U.S. Nationals has been raised to $1,000 for first place, and for the first time there will also be prize money for the Teams Championship. Juniors and Joggling champions will receive medals, but no cash prizes.
IJA business matters will be considered at a membership meeting Thursday. Election of 1986-87 officers will be held immediately thereafter. Other topics of organizational interest will be open for discussion in workshops on the IJA's 40th Anniversary Celebration, and care and nurturing of affiliates and other juggling clubs.
Conventioneers will never be far from the action. Dorms, the eating commons and championships auditorium are all located within five minutes walk. The package plan, available to IJA members for $200, covers room, board and all convention fees and activities for Tuesday through Sunday. Arrangements have been made to allow for registration and juggling facilities as early as Friday, July 18.
Special deals available for IJA members from Eastern Airlines, Alamo Rent-A-Car and the Holiday Inn Park Center Hotel will help cut convention costs further for many people. See ads for those businesses in this issue of the magazine for more details.
For more information on the convention, call the Bakalors at 408-247-3123, or write them at 1152 Timberpine Ct., Sunnyvale, CA 94086. If you'd like directions to San Jose State, please send them a stamped, self-addressed envelope.
Preconvention. Dorm rooms and meals available starting Friday evening. Gym available for open juggling starting Saturday. Preconvention club swinging workshop (additional charge) Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
In order to shift publication of the IJA Roster to coincide with the calendar year, the 1986 edition will be mailed in October. Computer programming problems that delayed expected publication earlier this year have prompted the decision to restructure the Roster schedule.
The 1985 Roster appeared in June of that year, and the 1986 Roster will appear in October and cover the period through December 1987. A 1988 Roster will then be published in December 1987 and a December publication schedule will be followed from that time on. The IJA regrets delay in publication of the 1986 edition.
Walter Wainwright's captivating illustration
The artist responsible for the Spring 1985 "Walter Wainwright's Photo Funnies" contest has chosen his winning entries. Walter Wainwright, a graphic designer from Norfolk, Virginia, said he receive more than 75 suggestions from about 20 different people. "I certainly appreciate this excellent response, and was amazed at the contestants' originality," he said. He promises to create another image soon.
Grand prize winner of an IJA all-purpose juggling shirt is Steven Taylor of Monroe, Connecticut. The winning quip:
Honorable mention prizes of an IJA patch go to the following people for these entries:
There are artist programs in many states which could provide jugglers with excellent opportunities to use their art form. I teach juggling in fifth through twelfth grades in North Carolina and reach 150 or more students each week. I'm surprised at the number of kids that can pick up juggling skills and at how fast they do so. I see each student an hour a day, and by the end of the week more than 80 percent can juggle five or more throws with three beanbags.
I would recommend jugglers use beanbags for teaching. Anything that bounces would be a terror in a gym full of excited kids. I don't use scarves except with handicapped kids because I think they have very little carry-over value. Learning first with beanbags, however, allows one to pick up rings, clubs and other equipment with more ease.
Teaching can be tiring and repetitious, but this is offset by the students' enthusiasm for juggling and the juggler. I put on a performance at the beginning of each week. The most satisfying feel is knowing that I have provided a situation in which each individual can exercise his or her freedom through an art that requires discipline, dedication, concentration, patience and faith.
Here are some interesting letters I've received from students:
(Tommy Gabriel is a philosophy and religion student at Appalachian State University.)
Hovey Burgess is a great believer in teaching circus techniques. Master teacher and author of the circus bible, "Circus Techniques," now in its third edition, Burgess believes that technical skills can be taught, but that virtuosity is an entirely different matter.
Burgess will be teaching a two-week circus skills workshop June 15-26 at the School for Movement Theatre presented by Movement Theatre International in Philadelphia.
He said, "Carlo Mazzone-Clememti says that virtue and virtuosity are related. Only the virtuous can have virtuosity and maybe only those with virtuosity are truly virtuous."
Burgess laughs, but is clearly angered by imitators who lack virtue and virtuosity, no matter how skilled they may be. He explained, "While I'm not pleased with a rubber stamp approach to art, I do teach the skills of juggling, balance and equilibristics. The skills can be taught, but what can't be taught is creativity or virtuosity. They are unlimited and can't be defined. That's up to the performer."
Burgess' class at the School for MTI will cover vaulting, balancing, juggling and equilibristics. As he described it, "Juggling, equilibristics, vaulting and more, reduced to a beginning level at which almost anyone can begin to experience discipline and virtue if not virtuosity -- a variety of skills for actors, dancers, clowns and mimes."
Burgess has taught for the past 15 years at the Tisch School of Arts at New York University. Numbered among his former students are many of today's outstanding performers, including Bill Irwin, Robin Williams, Michael Davis, Penn of Penn and Teller, Avner the Eccentric, John Towsen, Ray Jason and Larry Pisoni.
Movement Theatre International, which has operated in Elkins, W.Va., since 1980, offers its first season of activities in Philadelphia June 13-July 11. Besides the school, other events are the Mime and Clown Festival, National Movement Theatre Conference and third annual National Mime Association meeting. For information, contact Julie Pedretti, 1515 Market St., Suite 1108, Philadelphia, Pa. 19101. Call 215-751-0131.
A wind chill of -9 degrees and water temperature of 32 degrees did not stop Bruce Cleveland of Neenah, Wisc., from testing his juggling skills on New Year's Day. Following his six-year long tradition of joining the Sheboygan Polar Bear Club for a New Year's Day dip, Cleveland went swimming in Lake Michigan. After doing the traditional Polar Bear chants of "It's not cold enough!" with 250 fellow Bears, he had a good swim.
After briefly warming his fingers and putting on boots Cleveland returned to the icy beach to entertain on-lookers. Finding a level place on ice blocks wasn't easy. A nasty fall left bruised ribs and blood on the snow, but didn't stop Cleveland from doing a solid three club routine.
Next year he plans to actually juggle in the water. The question is, will his feet freeze before the clubs float away?
Dr. Annabelle Henkin Melzer of Rutgers University is looking for video and film on juggling. Funder by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, she is compiling an annotated international filmography and resource guide of film and video materials on theatre in the United States, Canada and western Europe. The guide will be published as a book in an attempt to implement more effective teaching of theatre arts through use of film and video.
Contact her c/o SCILS, Rutgers University, 4 Huntington St., New Brunswick, NJ 08903.
Joseph F. Boyle, 78, of Allentown, Penn., died February 18. He was an early member of the IJA, a former secretary-treasurer of the organization and the last of the Boyle family jugglers of Allentown.
He was the nephew of Frank and Connie Boyle, who were well known for their comedy juggling routines with the Sun Brothers, Al. G. Fields Minstrels and throughout Vaudeville.
Tony Bond of Denver died April 29, 1986. Born May 31, 1960, he never juggled for the roar of the crowd or the size of the hat. He juggled for the pleasure it gave him and those around him. Perhaps if he knew how much we loved his talent, generosity and friendship he would still be practicing with us in the park.
(From Tricia Allen, Rocky Mountain Jugglers)