As executive director of The Akron Civic Theatre, I would like to express my thanks and delight to all IJA members for their decision to hold the convention in Akron and the weekend events here.
I can safely assure you that our "Jewel on Main Street" has not seen the likes of Frank Olivier, OooLaLa and Bounce and the smallest animate object to be juggled (alias Baby Michelle Mills) since the days when Sally Rand the fan dancer, Milton Berle and the old elephant acts graced our vaudeville stage (or tromped on it).
I would like to thank Kevin Delagrange and the Rubber City Jugglers for their hard work and being easy to work with. We have many future conventions lined up at The Akron Civic Theatre, but somehow, I don't think they will have the same magic!
Todd Strong, as Cesar for a day, oversees the arena games
L'Institut de Jonglage is to be congratulated for the magnificent job that they did in organizing the 10th European Jugglers Convention. It was a great success in many different ways. The wonderful spirit of fun and friendship was maintained despite the difficulty of hosting an event for almost 1,000 people. Jugglers were greeted at the door by friendly faces offering a very low registration fee and a beautiful hand-made admissions button. Housing options included everything from camping or staying with a local family (both free) to a room at a local seminary.
Convention highlights (for me) included Kevin Brooking's antics at Club Renegade (Kevin's gentle character immediately disarmed a very hostile, heckling crowd); a parade followed by juggling games in a beautiful amphitheatre (games overseen by Caesar himself!); and finally, the establishment of the European Jugglers Association.
Although the association 's sole purpose is to review proposals and offer support for the European convention, it also provides a starting point for some constructive dialogue between the IJA and European jugglers. For 40 years the IJA has presumed to use the word "international" and yet not fulfilled its resulting obligation to jugglers outside of the U.S. We have much to learn from the EJA about what it means to be international. In this, their first year of operation, they have five different countries represented on their board of directors (including the U.S.) We can also learn a lot from them about community involvement in conventions and about cutting loose and having fun European style!
Whilst appreciating inclusion of articles about jugglers in Nicaragua last issue, we feel strongly that two statements need clarification. The title, "Juggling Ambassadors to the Sandanistas" was a serious misrepresentation of the reason Ben Linder, the Women's Circus and the Jugglers for Peace went to Nicaragua. We were there to show Nicaraguan people we supported them in their struggle for national sovereignty after decades of U.S.-backed dictatorship. You wouldn't describe the Chinese Acrobats as ambassadors to the Republican Party when they tour the USA, would you?
Secondly, reference to "the emerging use of juggling for political work" is short-sighted. The Flying Karamazov Brothers, Michael Davis and others have been making political statements for years. We believe juggling performers are a lot more political than your statement implies. We've never known such a powerful group of anarchists before, have you?
Cort Peterson & Tim King
Thanks for the "Juggling for the Sandinistas" article in the Fall issue. It's time the American people learned the truth about Nicaragua. Although I'm active in the Albuquerque peace movement, it was through your article that I learned of Benjamin Linder's juggling talents.
I was juggling for the orphans in Managua before Linder was born, and long before the revolution. But there is no comparison. What Linder did, and what others who follow in his footsteps are doing in today's reconstruction period in Nicaragua, requires a rare sense of dedication and great courage.
God bless the jugglers and others who are trying to bring peace and happiness instead of death and destruction to the country of my birth.
Thanks for the fine "Jugglers for Peace" article and tribute to Ben Linder. It moved me deeply and reaffirmed my belief in juggling as a tool to bring people together and move the world forward.
San Francisco, Calif.
After reading this summer's historical issue of Juggler's World from cover to cover and then visiting the American Museum of Magic in Marshall, Mich., I wondered why we don't have an American Museum of Juggling.
I can visualize a museum consisting of many displays: the development of juggling clubs with examples of the clubs themselves; a room full of promotional material, autographed 8x10s, fliers, posters, newspaper clippings; an array of various types of props with photos and descriptions of their appropriate use.
Since juggling is such a visual art, there should be a place for people to witness juggling. There are two ways to do this. The first would be a room where the museum patron could witness films of some of the classic jugglers - W.C. Fields, Enrico Rastelli, Francis Brunn and the Kremo family.
The other opportunity would be to build a theatre with a high ceiling and lighting that is useful to the juggler as well as the observer. Contemporary jugglers could work here, with acts changing every two weeks or every month. To encourage the awareness of the general public, a studio could be built for juggling and movement classes. What about a variety arts library with books on juggling, vaudeville, magic, clowning and acrobatics? And what about a Hall of Fame, a place where some of the finest jugglers could be enshrined for all time?
Juggling is probably the least understood and least appreciated of all the performing arts. If the history, art and skill involved in juggling is presented in an intelligent and attractive way, we might get the respect and appreciation we all deserve.
I'll be interested in hearing comments and ideas on this concept from other members in future issues.
John R. Mallery
Kansas City, Mo.
During the intermission at the Akron convention's Old and New Vaudeville Show, several of us old-time professional entertainers began an interesting discussion that we continued throughout the convention. The subject was, 'What has become of the entertainer's sense of responsibility to the audience?"
Comments included, "What has become of discipline?" "Why do they insist on practicing in public?" and "All that talent and no act..."
There can be no question of the phenomenal development of juggling technique in recent years. Yet one should realize that Jack Green did four clubs in one hand many years ago. Dick Richton, it is said, did ten balls. And the ring juggling of the Chiesa brothers at the first IJA meeting in 1947 has barely been surpassed to this day.
It seemed very obvious to us that the discipline of juggling, the carefully counted and precisely routined passes, are no longer a part of juggling. It is a freestyle, catch-as-catch-can brand of juggling today. It is truly fantastic and obviously a product of new plastic light-weight clubs. However, from the standpoint of public presentation, grave questions arise.
Those involved in the discussion felt that some sort of effort should be made by the organization to educate jugglers as to their responsibility to the audience for the sake of juggling as an art.
If juggling is to be considered only a competitive sport, then it should not be presented as entertainment. The audience should know in advance that what is being presented is competition in which all but a few will fail. If, on the other hand, it is presented as entertainment, then those who perform should concentrate on doing what they can do as nearly perfectly, tightly, and carefully routined as possible.
We all agreed that the only difference between a professional and an amateur is that the professional KNOWS what he is doing and does not do it unless it has been perfected and properly placed in the routine.
If we are to continue to consider juggling as an art, and there are many places in IJA literature to suggest that we do, then we are obliged to realize that art is for the audience. Music without the audience is but practice and development. Literature is for the reader. Dance and drama are produced strictly for the audience, and even painting without the observer is useless.
Therefore, it seems mandatory that we educate jugglers that if they wish to exhibit their abilities to an audience, they have the responsibility to present a finished product to that audience. That means a demonstration of the art in a professionally prepared package - a routine with a beginning, a middle and an ending that has been perfected. Never an exposure to practice.
The performer should consider a commitment to perform before an audience as a sacred and moral trust, regardless of fee, regardless of size of the audience. Professional performers honor that trust despite personal feelings. Professionals are considered "artists" because they know that performing before an audience is to display their art. Juggling IS an art!
San Antonio, Texas