Robert York of Tulsa, Oklahoma, offers this suggestion to those who can juggle six rings. His well-choreographed progressive reduction of rings features skill and flash. Logically enough, he calls it: 6-5-4-3-2-1.
It begins with juggling three in each hand. Use a standard alternating pattern; right, left, right, left so you can change to five without changing the timing of throws. Pull one down over your head with the right hand and throw next left across to the right hand to go into five.
From the five ring cascade, pull another right down and go into two in each hand. Pull another right down, make a crossing left throw and go into three in the right hand only.
Pull one of those down, and double pancake flip the next throw high. Catch the last ring in your right hand and pull it down over your head. The last move is to then catch the pancake flip over your head with no hands. Take a bow.
York goes two full rounds with six rings at the beginning. He says it's also possible to start the six by throwing pairs and work to the five ring cascade from there. For people who can't do six rings, he points out that the reduction routine can begin just as well at a lower number level.
A three ring pattern York likes uses frisbee-type throws. He tosses the rings flat across in front of his body, but adds a wrinkle. His tosses go over the top of the incoming ring rather than to the outside, and he makes catches further in front of his body. The motion of the hands is rolling over each other rather than moving from outside to inside. This is an attractive and not overly difficult variation on the standard flat ring cascade.
York ends his "Puttin' On the Ritz" musical routine by catching around his neck a ring that rolls back to him along the floor. The reverse spin he puts on the ring is not difficult to master. It can also be used to roll a ring back toward you for an under the leg catch or simply to pick up off the floor and return to a pattern in the air.
It is important to toss the ring with a significant jerk down on its back side and toss it up and away from you. It should land on the floor on a line headed directly back to you. If the ring is tossed out rather than up, it tends to drift to the right as it rolls back.
To make the over the neck catch, position your body in front of the line the ring is travelling. Drop to the floor on your belly and elbows with the other two rings in either hand. Let the ring hit your shoulder on the left side and its forward motion will twist it over your head. York ends the routine by slapping the number two and three rings over his head as soon as the first one is on his neck.
He says it will take practice to get the ring to return straight. A little sweep of the head as the ring hits your shoulder might also help with the catch. Waxed wood floors or another slick surface provide the best base for this trick. It is much more difficult on carpet.
For an under the leg catch, drop to one knee and let the ring roll underneath it. York scoops it up on the back side with another ring and flips it into the air to begin another pattern.
Three ring roll-backs are also possible, but it takes an adjusted grip to split one ring away from the other two. Put the single ring on the outside as you hold all three in one hand and give it a little drag with your thumb as you put the reverse English on the toss. The single will then return to you first. You quickly pick it up and toss it in the air, then grab the other two and throw them. Again, the throw is upward rather than outward.
My favorite gag is the "ball on the string," sometimes referred to as the kidney swing.
Effect: During the three ball juggle, one of the balls seems to be dropping to the floor but instead goes downward between the juggler's legs and then returns upward to the hands and the cascade is resumed!
Secret: One of the balls is attached to the end of a fine, strong black string about 18" long. The opposite end of the string is fastened to the juggler's clothing in the belt buckle area.
Method: The juggler does the three ball routine with the one ball attached. The ball on the string is allowed to "fall" down and passes between the legs. With a slight forward movement of the body and the ball's own momentum, it swings back to the juggler's hands and the juggling is resumed. This comic situation has the element of surprise and always draws a laugh.
Getting the gimmicked ball without being noticed by the audience must be worked out. I usually do the gag as an encore trick. The string has been fastened to my trouser top before I start the show and the ball is in my back trouser pocket.
After I complete my act and come back from the wings to acknowledge the applause I take the ball from my back pocket and do the kidney swing for more laughs and applause.
(George Barvin is a founding member of the IJA and was its first secretary. He learned juggling from his brother, Bill, and did his first show in 1932 at age 15. At age 69 he still performs juggling and magic in the area of his home in Johnson City, N.Y.)
Here's a description of the Wally Walk, takeaways done by our group, Manic Expressions of Boone, N.C.
It involves three jugglers. Two of them pass every others, and are free to do any type of pass when the particular throw is not going to be intercepted. The third juggler operates in the middle performing takeaways from the passing pattern.
It is useful to practice the full dance in parts. Practice taking with your left hand a right hand self toss from in front of a person juggling three clubs. Replace it with another club you are holding in your right hand by the belly so that you can slap it easily into the juggler's left hand to replace the one you stole.
For the second part, practice intercepting a pass from one juggler to another after a half spin of the throw. Replace it with another club from your right hand to his right throwing hand a half-beat later. Swing your right arm upward into the bottom of the juggler's juggle to accomplish this handoff. As before, the club inserted is most easily taken when it is held by the belly.
To put the two takeaways together into one flowing pattern, perform the first part (taking a right-hand self toss). Then transfer the stolen club from the left to the right hand during the next quarter beat. Take the next throw (an intended pass to the other juggler) and perform the second part described above. Continue.
The rhythm and the dance steps are the most critical parts to perform the Wally Walk smoothly for more than a few takeaways. I use three steps, keeping the right foot to the center of the rectangle transcribed by the passing clubs. The left foot pivots toward the jugglers as I approach them, so that I spin around the rectangle counter-clockwise while turning my body clockwise.
There is a more complicated and difficult version: 1) Take a self toss from juggler A; 2) Take a pass from juggler B to handoff to juggler A; 3) Take the self toss from juggler B; 4) Take the pass from juggler A and hand it to juggler B to complete one circuit. This is much faster and is performed easier with a pushed floater instead of an actual handoff from the middle juggler to the passers.
This will also work within a box of four jugglers, and presents a lot more opportunities inside this configuration. Have fun!
Jugglers desiring something new and interesting for their act will find the tube and ball trick worth learning. The idea is to pass the ball or other small objects down through the tube after juggling them in one hand, and then shoot them up from the bottom out the top again.
By placing the balls under the tube and giving them a quick snap they will pass back through and out the top. If this is worked right, it will make a fine comedy hit for an act. The size of the tube must be large enough so that the balls can pass through it easily.