If you would like to extend your juggling skills to include some fancy moves with a deck of cards, then start by learning one-hand cuts and fans.
These flourishes will impress onlookers far more than such relatively simple manipulations ought to. Any deck of cards will do for the one-hand cut, although people with small hands may find bridge-size cards easier to handle than poker-size.
You should be much more selective, however, in choosing cards for the one-hand fan. If the cards do not smoothly glide over one another, then even an expert cannot make a fan free of irregularly spaced clumps. Tahoe and Club casino cards made by the Arrco Company fan very well.
The simplest one-hand cut is called the Charlier cut. Turn your left hand palm-up, and place one long edge of the deck along the fingertip pads. (Yes, right-handed people often use their left hand for this.) The pad of your thumb should naturally come to rest in the middle of the other long edge. An almost imperceptible rocking forward of your outer thumb joint will allow the hand of the deck nearest your body to fall into the palm (ill. 1).
Curl in your index finger slightly so that its fingertip presses up under the outside left corner of the packet of cards you dropped into your palm - packet A. Push upwards with the index finger, levering up the outside edge of the dropped packet A to form an inverted V with the other cards -- packet B.
Now comes the tricky part. Slowly lower your second, third and fourth fingers slightly. The upper edge of packet B should slide down the fingernail of the index finger (ill. 2).
Now carefully curl in your index finger, lowering packet B as the index finger's tip slides down the face of packet A. B should now be well below A. Firmly push down and out on A with your thumb while pulling in on B with your second, third and fourth fingers, snapping the packets together to complete the cut.
The one-hand fan is easier to master than the cut. Using your right hand, grip the inner left corner of the face-down deck so that the pad of the thumb presses that corner firmly against the outer joint of the second finger. The inner right corner of the deck should be close to the middle joint of the first finger.
The first finger also supports the deck, but the second finger is dominant. The third and fourth fingers, curled into the palm, never touch the deck. Rapidly and firmly arc your thumb to the outside while your first and second fingers simultaneously curl into the palm. The motion is almost identical to snapping your fingers (ill. 3).
Within reason, the quicker and more forcefully you make this snap, the better the fan will be. Many card handlers prefer to add the third finger to the face of the deck. The larger part of the thumb's pressure will then act on the pad of the third finger, but the snapping action remains the same. In either case you can expect to litter the floor several times before you master a fan!
(Emory Kimbrough is active in the performing arts of juggling, magic and comedy. Residing in Montgomery, Ala., he works as a science educator and writer.)
This is a feed pattern performed by the Flying Karamazov Brothers for the past two years. Each of the five jugglers gets to throw passes and to receive passes as the feed progresses.
The Karamazovs do the feed with every throw, but you could do it with every others or every thirds to practice. It can also be done with fewer or more jugglers.
It begins with juggler 1 facing the other four and passing down the line from juggler 5 to juggler 2. Immediately after receiving a pass from juggler 1, juggler 2 takes a step to the left, the line steps right and juggler 1 steps left to join them.
Juggler 2 is then facing everyone else and begins feeding them by passing to juggler 5. The footwork takes some getting used to, but the pattern should be easy enough for most competent club passers to accomplish. The notation for the pattern is this, with each pair of numbers representing the jugglers passing to each other at that moment:
1 - 5 1 - 4 1 - 3 1 - 2 5 - 2 4 - 2 3 - 2 3 - 1 3 - 5 3 - 4 2 - 4 1 - 4 5 - 4 5 - 3 5 - 2 5 - 1
(Ill. 1) Hold two clubs in the left hand as shown. Place the third club between them.
(Ill. 2) Transfer all three clubs to the right hand. The right index finger should be on the handle of the middle club.
(Ill. 3) Now pull the right hand down so the clubs are parallel with the ground and toss them upward.
(Ill. 4) The outer clubs should spin once and the middle club twice. Catch the outer two and begin the juggle as the middle one comes down. To make things harder, make the outer clubs spin three times and the middle club four times. Pirouette before catching them!
An inexpensive bean bag can be made easily and quickly from baby socks and popcorn.
Start with infants tube socks, size 4-5 1/2. Some large stores sell them in packages of six pair for under $3. The grey ones with the sport stripes on the top look great!
Uncooked popcorn makes the best filler. Turn a sock inside out, pour a half-cup of popcorn down into the toe and pack it down into a ball by sliding the top between your thumb and finger. Start twisting the body of the sock into a smooth rope by turning the ball. Stop when the twist reaches the top three inches of the sock. Wrap the twist around the ball, hold it in place with a thumb, and pop the top of the sock around right-side-out to hold it all in place.
Just the right amount of top wrapped around will leave the very top of the sock slightly open over the material underneath - not stretched and not loose. No sewing is needed. When they start to loosen up, rewind them. Take them apart and wash them, eat them, change the weight, size and firmness. They're versatile bags, great for teaching, and provide comic opportunity in performance.