Sergei Ignatov, the Soviet juggler considered by many people to be the world's greatest master of the art, has made a verbal commitment to be the IJA's special guest at the 1991 festival in St. Louis. He said he will be present the entire duration of the festival, which will be held July 16-20 on the campus of Washington University. Providing things go as planned, the IJA will present Ignatov with its Award of Excellence and he will headline the finale show and give workshops. He will bring with him his wife, Marina, who assists him in his act.
German juggling archivist Karl-Heinz Ziethen visited with Ignatov in Moscow before this year's IJA festival and brought news to Los Angeles that Ignatov would like to come to the 1991 event. IJA officials and Ziethen then telephoned Ignatov in Moscow during the festival and extended a verbal invitation, which he accepted. Ignatov speaks English fairly well, and explained that he will be in the United States beginning in December anyway on tour with the Moscow Circus.
Ziethen said that next year will mark the 20th year of performance for Ignatov, who is now 40 years old. Ziethen saw several of Ignatov's recent performances and said he is once again doing 11 rings in his act every day. According to Ziethen, Ignatov begins his act by running into the ring juggling five clubs. He continues with five stage balls, then seven. He starts juggling nine rings, then pulls two more from holsters to make 11. He does tricks with seven and then five rings, and then retrieves his clubs for routines with three and five. He walks around the ring doing back crosses with five clubs for more than 50 throws, then finishes the act with nine rings again.
Ignatov's wife, Marina, is a high wire artiste. Their daughter, 11-year-old Katya, was a rhythmic gymnastic specialist, but began juggling in February. With the expert instruction of her father, Ziethen reported that Katya is already juggling five clubs!
Michael Moschen has received a $230,000 five-year fellowship from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation of Chicago. Moschen, a New York City juggler, was among 31 people tapped by the foundation for its "genius grants" this year.
The fellowships, which vary in value according to the recipient's age, are awarded unconditionally to allow people more freedom to continue their life's work. There is no application process. Recipients are chosen in a closed committee process and simply notified that they have been tapped as fellows.
"It causes me to pause and get a wonderful warm glow inside," said Moschen. "It's nice to know that people have been watching and appreciating my work."
Moschen was notified just as he was preparing for a late-July show in the Seriously Fun Festival at Lincoln Center. Though the hoopla associated with the fellowship disrupted his preparations, he said it also strengthened his resolve to take risks in the show.
The show presented a whole new set of Moschen's work, including a new crystal ball piece and a piece about the juggler as architect. He said, "I've been fascinated with architecture and studied it for three or four years. Just as previous interests led me to present the juggler as jester, as alchemist and as dancer, this was about the juggler in an architectural environment."
With the show behind him, he planned to take a vacation with his wife and daughter before a scheduled three-month tour of Europe beginning in October. Then, he said, he planned to again "find something else interesting and let it take me."
Moschen said the MacArthur fellowship would certainly help him pay the rent, but moreover "it gives me and my work a slightly higher profile among people who may be able to help in broad ways - someone who wants to present it, or collaborate with me. I even got a call from someone at the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation who found out about the new architecture piece because of the publicity."
There will be no telecast of his Lincoln Center performance, but the Public Broadcasting System will show his new crystal ball routine in January as part of its Great Performances series.
Could it be that as many as 55.2 million people in the US can do a three ball cascade? That would be hard to believe, but the IJA's 1990 Juggling Census did indicate that an impressive number of people do know how to juggle.
More than 30 IJA affiliates, clubs and individual members served as census takers on Juggling Day, June 16, in the first-ever attempt to compile some comprehensive data on the pervasiveness of juggling in today's society. They returned 739 completed forms. The results showed 23 percent of respondents reported they could do a three-ball cascade. Extrapolate that to a US population of 240 million people, and you've got 55.2 million jugglers!
However, the census cannot be considered scientifically valid because of its random nature. Groups and individuals administered the census to members of the general public at exhibitions and demonstrations all across the US and in Canada. Scientifically valid surveys must be administered to specific groups of people under controlled conditions.
Still, the results of the survey do indicate just how popular and common juggling is today. Besides the benchmark question of whether respondents can do the three-ball cascade, other questions and their data were:
The results cited above do not include 555 more forms sent in by the St. Ignatius Circus Club in Cleveland, Ohio. Members of that club, which is associated with a private school, polled every member of the school and found that 32 percent of its students can juggle.
The next largest number of responses came from the Miner Attractions affiliate Juggling Club in Rolla, Mo. Club contact Ed Carstens said his group gathered its 146 forms by approaching people in a shopping center where they were juggling, and from a group of Cub Scouts.
The IJA prize for participating in the event is a copy of the new "Club Swinging" instructional videotape for the top three clubs - the St. Ignatius Circus Club, Miner Attractions and the Winnipeg Juggling Club.
Most circus fans are familiar with the plight of the Circus Bim Bom, a Soviet troupe whose planned two-year tour of the USA bogged down in May almost immediately, leaving them stranded in Marietta, Georgia.
The problem was financial backing that fell through. The troupe couldn't pay its bills and ended up living in a motel in Marietta existing on the charity of local citizens for many weeks.
Initially the story grabbed media attention, but fell from the headlines as the situation dragged on. In late June Andy Ford, a curious member of the Atlanta Jugglers Association, drove out the interstate to see how things were going. "There they were, eating tacos on card tables in the parking lot," Ford said. "I asked if there was anything I could do and an interpreter asked me if I could feed 110 people the next night!"
Ford rounded up some friends in the Atlanta affiliate, including his wife, Pulley, Rick and L.J. Purtee, George Strain, and Mickey and Kathy Motti. They packed up the portable grills the next afternoon and did, indeed, feed burgers and hotdogs to the troupe that evening. "We took our juggling stuff, but they seemed a little depressed and aloof," Ford said. "I went into one room and found six or eight of them who couldn't speak a word of English mesmerized around the TV watching Wheel of Fortune."
Undaunted, the AJA signed on for another shift a week later. This time they brought some vodka as well as food, and things loosened up somewhat. Communicating through the interpreter, Ford found that the troupe included a strongman juggler and a female antipodist. However, none of the Bim Bom artistes were practicing their acts because their animals and equipment had been impounded in New Jersey. The circus eventually received a donation for travel expenses and most members left for home Aug. 22.
The IJA would like to thank the following people who have signed on as IJA Life Members recently:
Life Members pay $300 for a lifetime IJA membership that includes a first class subscription to Juggler's World. They also receive reserved seating at convention events and a special membership card. The money collected from Life Memberships goes into a special fund that is not used for operations expenses, but which insures the long-term stability of the organization.
If you're interested in becoming a Life Member, contact IJA secretary Tom Bennett at 216/745-3552.
The election of a new board at the Los Angeles festival brought three new people into the IJA's governing body. They are: Cathi Bouton of Alaska, co-founder and executive director of Deaf Community Services; Holly Greeley of Mass., a former IJA board member now pursuing a master's degree in administration; and Ed Johnson from Altoona, Pa., an IJA founder and longtime state legislator.
Reelected to the board were: Carter Andrews of Nashville, Tenn.; Rich Chamberlin of Kenmore, N.Y.; Glenn Ceponis of Philadelphia; Bill Giduz of Davidson, N.C.; Laura Green of Baltimore, MD.; Ginny Rose of No. Leveritt, MA.; Perry Rubenfeld of Winnipeg, Manitoba; and Todd Strong of Santa Barbara, CA.
Chamberlin was reelected as chairman of the board, and the following committee assignments were made: Administration - Greeley; Affiliates - Rubenfeld; Archives - Ceponis; Championships - Green; Education - Strong; Grants & Contributions - Bouton; Marketing & Merchandising - Rose; Membership - Andrews; Publications - Giduz; Video - Johnson.
To serve on any of these committees get in touch with the IJA secretary Tom Bennett at 216/745-3552.
A lot of Optimists got together in early June for a Guinness World Record juggle. There were 821 of them legally registered and certified who did 2,463 scarves in Seattle - exactly three per person. The event was organized by Dave Finnigan, "Professor Confidence," at the 72nd annual meeting of the Optimists civic organization.
Gene Jones, the Guinness juggling judge, evaluated, then accepted the documentation of the event mailed in by Finnigan. The former record was set at the IJA's 1989 convention in Baltimore, where 524 people did 1,997 objects.