The successful Third Annual Mooselips Jugglers Retreat was held Oct. 3-5 at the old Chicago Club in Stone Lake, Wisc. The jugglers took over this circa-1900 lodge on Friday and spent a super weekend in the woods by the lake. This retreat was reminiscent of the First Moose Lips Jugglers Retreat held on the shores of Round Lake at the Moose Jaw Lodge. As in years past, this retreat attracted a small, but high-quality group of juggling enthusiasts. Saturday afternoon the group performed at the Stone Lake Cranberry Festival. We were treated to performances by the Dovetails -- an anti-nuclear juggling drama. The Heads Up Juggling Review featured Doctor Head and his brother M.T. Head, John Kilquist from Merril demonstrate the best way to extinguish a fire, and Two Complete Fools, featuring Nina Cheney and Jacob Mills. Later Saturday night we were all treated to a mask and mine show by Cheney and Mills. They demonstrated some mask and mime techniques they learned performing in Europe. We were all suitably impressed.
Sunday was spent with some juggling by the lake and the last fabulous meal by Julie Schukring, the co-organizer of this event. All clubs and hats salute Eric and Julie Schukring for making this event possible and we all shall anxiously await next year's Fourth Annual retreat in Wisconsin's great north woods.
What do California's Mark Nizer, Maryland's Sue Kirby, Indiana's Tom Miller, New York's Brian Dube and John Foss, New Jersey's Michael Menes, and Massachusetts' Holly Greeley have in common? They have all visited, demonstrated, participated in, socialized and been all-round good sports with the Philadelphia Jugglers Club.
Not only does this band of mad-caps juggle, but they have picnics, give benefit performances, have parties, participate in civic events (like Philadelphia's Super Sunday, the world's largest block party), have their own juggling supplier (Andy's Odd Sports), have their own farm team (Drexel Hill Middle School) and host a juggling convention.
The 1986 Philadelphia fall convention featured a weekend of fine workshops. Rob Peck presented both hats and cigar boxes. Eric Haver, Nguyan Phuc and William Lee lead a three club workshop. Sue Kirby discussed numbers juggling, Holly Greeley did a club passing workshop and Mike Menes expostulated upon the trials and tribulations of the fine art of routining. Philadelphia's own Dynamite Jumpers dazzled onlookers with their creativity in jumping rope. Unicycles from A to Z were rolled out for everyone's inspection by John Foss and Tom Miller.
The convention's Public Show and Extravaganza at the Community College of Philadelphia was staggering in scope -- and length! Highlighted once again by Michael Menes, who mesmerized the audience with versatility and virtuosity, the show provided a showcase for a rainbow variety of performers. The attendance this year once again surpassed previous records, and we expect greater throngs next Fall. Please place early September in Philadelphia into your busy social calendar now. See you then!
The large number of jugglers at the tenth annual Kansas City Renaissance Festival was heartening to those involved.
The cream of the juggling crop was Sideshow, with Bryan Wendling and Phil Lindsay (the third member of the trio, Scott Burton, was unable to attend). Lindsay's razor sharp wit complemented Wendling's awesome juggling skill. Wendling used two devil sticks, doing airplane spins, behind-the-backs, under-the-legs (without lifting the foot) and pirouettes. He also juggled five clubs with variations.
Giovanni Gibertini, a.k.a. John Mallery, had the crowd in stitches with his comedy act using silicone balls, devil stick, vegetables and torches. The highlight was his routine using 3 (stuffed) cats.
Karen Lyles, Kevin Holman and Paul Phariss are Darn, Good & Funny. They drew large crowds with comedy club passing and a line feed with nine torches to a two person stack.
First-time street performer Jeff Damont showed crowds his complex cigar box manipulation. Alexis Lee, The Great Zandu, performed the apple trick (with a twist) and a very set balance on a spectator with a controlled upset. Rex Boyd, Feat of Hand) combined smooth technique with a nutty sense of humor and dashing good looks. Evan Ravitz (Evan From Heaven) and Phil Belknap (Flip Phillip) juggled on slack ropes high in the air. Miles Eddy presented a nice bare-handed machete and flaming ball routine.
The competition for audience was there, but so was the camaraderie. The large juggling patterns concocted for opening ceremonies showed fine cooperation and was a highlight for all.
Hamilton is in that part of western Montana which drools over the flat platform of Wyoming and oozes into Idaho. With 2,600 people, it is the major city of the beautiful Bitterroot Valley. Missoula, the brightest star in the Big Sky country, lies 45 miles north.
It was in this place at the onset of winter that I decided, out of sheer juggler's loneliness, that the city needed a juggling club.
My first step was to type up a bulletin proclaiming, "Members of the IJA believe just about anyone can pick up the basics of three ball juggling within an hour." If interested, they were to call me.
I placed these bulletins at a gift shop in town, with a local Justice of the Peace whom I discovered was a juggler, and on the windshield of a Datsun pickup with a "Juggling Is Catching" bumper-sticker.
No one responded. But that was okay. This was merely the first small wave. I took several weeks to organize and to practice so I would have the necessary confidence when the time came to teach juggling to others.
I searched high and low for a room suitable for classes. It had to have few, if any, windows, no breakables, be uncluttered with furniture, and -- most importantly -- be rent-free. I finally found the perfect place, an absolutely empty rumpus room at the local bowling alley. Then came a gigantic leap of faith: the newspaper and radio public service ads. My secret was public, I was going to teach juggling lessons.
The first night I had three people. My neighbors from across the street, who were probably feeling a little sorry for me, and a young junior high school fellow. After a couple of weeks the media blitz hit. Two reporters showed up -- one from the local paper and one from the Bitterroot section of Missoula's paper. We talked about juggling, about why I was doing this, and they got some photos. Most importantly, these two reporters became part of the group! After their stories appeared, more interested people came to the meetings.
The program itself revolved around nine levels of accomplishment I plucked out of the air. After testing for each level, the juggler receives a certificate of ability. The first certificate is 102 catches of a three ball cascade with no stops or drops. The subsequent certificate levels must be memorized and executed flawlessly.
After several months I put a news release in the paper announcing the names of people who had received certificates. From the ads, releases and word of mouth, Hamilton became conscious of a growing juggling club in its midst. Seven months after we began (and named ourselves "The Merriment Jugglers") we received an invitation to perform at a local talent show. Three of us got together as "The No Darn Good Jugglers" and did some dead-pan comedy juggling featuring "a convoluted history of juggling."
Other invitations followed. The thing was catching on! At one of our performances on a high school stage, one of my misses struck a footlight dead on with a deafening crash. For days afterward, in the shoe department where I was working, people identified me as "the juggler who broke the light." Sometimes fame isn't fleeting enough!
As warm weather returned we moved our meetings to Legion Park. There, in a more public setting, we met more jugglers and taught more beginners. The Merriment Jugglers were a year old last October, with 23 members of record.
I have since moved to Sheridan, Wyoming and started a juggling club here through the YMCA. But back in Hamilton, they're still sharing the joy of juggling.