My legs were sore, my eyes ablur, my head in a fog, and all by the third day of the IJA convention! My determination to juggle five balls, however, was stronger than ever. Five balls: the myth, the mystery, the magic. I can see it. I can feel it. I can do it. The question is, when?
To be the Anthony Gatto of juggling; to be the Butterfly Street King of Comedy; to be the Marlin of Wit; to be the Summers of Inspiration; to be the Raspynis of Class Acts; to be the Arsene of Zen.
To be or not to be, I came anyway. In reality I came to debut my five ball routine, and when I left it was still "a work in progress."
While this year's convention has come and gone, one thing truly remains: these jugglers, these manipulators, these modern prestidigitators are surely the wizards of our time. The magic exchanged is but new for a day, but like gold it is old for all time.
I was fascinated by Jacques Marais' letter on jugglers in South Africa. In one sense it is inspiring that people still yearn to see the magic of circus arts in a country torn apart by war.
On the other hand, I need to ask who gets to see these shows? Marais sounds like he is one who gets to travel freely in his country, a luxury I understand is not granted to most South Africans. I hope that the circuses he speaks of are also accessible to the blacks and whites in South Africa dedicated to dismantling the apartheid system.
It is discouraging to hear the famous jugglers who have performed in Sun City. There is a U.N.-decreed cultural boycott against South Africa, but even so, many celebrities have been seduced by the top prices paid there. International performers who go to Sun City are directly supporting the genocide of the black people of South Africa.
It's a funny business us professional jugglers are in. We want the gigs, need the money, love to perform, but there is a bottom-line morality that we have to answer to sooner or later. Let's join Steven Van Zandt, Bruce Springstein, Bonnie Rait, the Ramones and Miles Davis and sing, "We Won't Play Sun City!"
What can I say? Current events being what they are, your choice of the title "South African Report" was insensitive to say the least. Marais' references to Sun City is equally wild. A year ago, I wrote on a Juggler's World survey that I thought there could be some articles in JW that might bring in some minority jugglers (most issues are entirely white).
Can you imagine a black prospective IJA member looking at his or her first copy of the magazine and reading "South African Report?"
Judging by the demand for the "Juggler for peace" buttons in San Jose and the support for the Renegade Jugglers anti-nuclear presentation, jugglers generally know what kind of world they want to live in. But what are they doing to help achieve peace or communicate their views.
Many actors, musicians and writes express their feelings clearly through their work, and the public is willing to listen to well-presented political material. Jugglers also have the opportunity to use their public platform to make statements about serious issues.
Yet I have met very few politically active jugglers. Political theatre is common in Europe and South America, so why not here?
There are three separate tours planned to Nicaragua for 1987: a womens circus, a TV film crew led by Ray Jason and a vaudeville tour that I'm organizing for April. Please write and let us know if you or others are working for peace or if you'd like to join us in Nicaragua. We'll also be glad to send you a "Juggler for peace" button. Wearing that is a start at least!
The IJA blood giving program received reports at the convention of 85 members who gave 97 pints last year. The object is to give blood up to four times and year and tell the blood bank you're part of an IJA program.
If you live nearby, offer your talent to help their promotions. You don't have to be an Anthony Gatto to wow people. Simple things are enough. I know because I do it! Next year in Akron we'll take another poll of blood donations during the year. I hope you'll be part of the report!
Congratulations on a great convention! I'll probably never achieve the fluid movement of Anthony Gatto, but I was privileged to see him win his events. As a technical juggler myself, the sight of such perfection in movement was practically a religious experience.
I also got a chance to ask the Chinese guest artist, Dai Shucheng, if he practices martial arts. He said he practiced Wushu (an art with emphasis on flexibility and physical grace) for about 20 years, but hasn't done it seriously for the past 15 years.
I have practiced Chen-style Tai-Chi Chuan for two years, and find it helps juggling. It is interesting that having mastered one physical discipline assists pursuit of another. Through the precision movements of Tai-Chi I achieved a stable five ball cascade, and am working on seven.