Most of the 3,000-plus members of the IJA have no idea how the Board of Directors functions. As long as there is an annual festival, quarterly issues of Juggler's World, a Clubs & Affiliates Newsletter and a Roster, most members seem satisfied with what their membership dues buy.
But hundreds of volunteer hours are spent during the year by members of the board and their committees insuring the smooth operation of the IJA.
As the newly-elected Chairman of the Board, I want to keep the membership informed of board activities and get more people involved in helping the IJA grow and improve.
As IJA Affiliate Director for the past two years, I have had the pleasure of hearing from hundreds of members with suggestions, complaints and commendations. I replied to each letter, not always in the way people hoped, but nonetheless they were addressed at the appropriate level.
I pledge to continue to address the needs of our members. I am excited to have such an excellent group of devoted people serving on the Board of Directors with me, and invite you to contact them with your comments and concerns. Please feel free to contact me as well!
The continued success and growth of the IJA is the number one priority of this board, and we will address your concerns keeping that in mind. I look forward to hearing from you and reporting to you at regular intervals.
474 Enniskillen Ave.
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada R2V OJ4
In St. Louis we adopted the Kapell method of awarding medals to competitors, based on defined standards of excellence. The idea is to encourage diversity and avoid the absurdity of declaring a winner when comparing the achievements of jugglers with vastly different styles.
The Championships Committee approaches its task this year with healthy respect for the traditions of the competitions, as well as a willingness to consider any reasonable changes.
I encourage anyone who feels strongly about championships to call or write me with your thoughts. This Juggler's World "Letters" forum is a particularly good place for the membership to debate the goals and methods of IJA championships.
Once again this year's convention was lots of fun. It was unfortunate that the jugglers and vendors were shifted between three gyms and the main gym was closed for a good portion of the convention, though.
My memory may be fooling me, but I seem to remember that Juggler's World used to report on the business of the IJA directors. The reason I mention this is that it most jugglers in St. Louis were quite surprised to hear of the changes in the championships rules. A paragraph listing what is being considered would keep the general membership informed. Juggler's World does say it is published "to communicate with members..."
A questionnaire was passed around in L.A. asking for suggestions concerning the championships. I find it hard to believe that the overwhelming majority of people suggested changing to the current (hopefully not for long) system of medals. Why does the IJA feel it needs to reinvent the wheel when it could loosely base its judging methods on old proven systems like gymnastics, baton twirling, etc?
I really doubt the new system will push jugglers to their limits, but suspect it will cause jugglers to be conservative and make the championships boring. Ignatov and Gatto both dropped during the public show, so I guess they wouldn't have earned a gold medal. If two of the world's greatest can't be flawless, who can?
As all of us who attended the St. Louis festival know, the championships award system needs to be changed. Here's a proposal I think would work.
We should have the first, second and third places as in the past so that there is a clear-cut winner and runners up. We should also award gold, silver and bronze medals of excellence, with lower standards than those applied this year.
With this system we would always have a first, second and third place, but they could receive any of the three medals. That would give us a clear-cut champion and tell us how they did against a "standard of excellence." Clearly something needs to change because of what happened to Doubble Troubble.
I think the IJA stage championships need more emphasis on presentation. With the scoring set to 50/50 between technical and presentation rather than the current 60/40, entertainers would have a better chance to demonstrate their personality and showmanship.
Under the current system with the emphasis on technical, we are mostly seeing a tech run-through on stage which is the same as someone going through their tricks in the gym. High technical skills have other venues, such as the numbers competition and the Three Ball Open, where presentation is not a factor. The stage championship should be theatrical and emphasize character.
A former championships director said that the championships is the IJA's way to prepare jugglers for television shows and big-time gigs. People booking for big shows want an act that demonstrates character as well as technical skill. I think it's only fair to go to a 50/50 scoring system.
I am not the type to complain, but there are a few things I feel I need to say about this year's festival. Speaking as one who has prepared festival proposals, I can appreciate how difficult it is to find suitable facilities.
But aside from the lousy food and the poor juggling space, I was embarrassed by the theatre arrangements. After L.A. where the sound system was great and any seat in the auditorium was a good one, the contrast was stark. Sergei Ignatov hadn't performed in this country for more than a decade and we treated him to a gymnasium.
And if you were not a life member you didn't have a decent seat. I'm sure The Swordsmen had a good act, but I'll never know. People all around me had no idea what was being said. The same is true for The Flaming Idiots. I moved to four different seats in an attempt to find one where I could hear. The seats in the stands above were terrible, but the emptiness of the main floor testifies that they were the better choice.
I will not go on about how disappointed I was, but let me close by saying this: perhaps the reason there were no gold medals awarded this year is because the stage and theater were not conducive to that caliber of performance!
The Spring issue "Academic Juggler" was excellent! The author made a good choice to do away with the "usual math" and replace it with wonderfully insightful theories that are as important to the future of juggling as the basic cascade. I, too, have been doing juggling animation on my Amiga, and found the article as meaningful and inspirational as the Ignatov article preceding it. Keep up the good work! I'd like to see more in this direction.
Bonita Springs, Florida
I'd like to thank everyone for their responses to my first letter regarding Billy Gillen's article on "Le Batleur" of the Tarot. They were fine responses and well thought out. It was interesting to me that an article endorsing the Tarot, numerology and other belief systems only received one letter in response, while that one letter endorsing Christ received four letters - some seeming rather angry. I did not intend to anger anyone.
Those who know me best do not use words like "self-righteous," "small-minded," "fascistic" or "close-minded prude" in describing me. I in no way wanted to be "self-praising." I only wanted to lift up Christ in equal opportunity to the Tarot article.
I understand the role of "Le Batleur" historically and ecclesiastically. That was not my point. I was simply advocating equal opportunity of expression. If Juggler's World offers a point of view on the Tarot (which many perceive to be an occultic practice), why not a point of view glorifying God through juggling? I am in no way advocating any church, only Christ, because of what He has done for me.
I tend to use my juggling (feeble as it is) in a ministry context. Ms. Harris or the others don't have to. That's OK. Many refer to Christ as one of the world's greatest teachers. Check out what He taught. You won't be disappointed.
Thanks, also, to Juggler's World for printing my first letter. That showed a lot of integrity in so controversial a topic. Mr. Gillen, thanks for apologizing for me. I need to apologize to someone, it seems, daily. Thanks, too, for keeping what I perceive to be a good perspective on things. I truly didn't want to insult you, merely to present a different view. Juggle up, all!
East Randolph, N.Y.
In reading some recent letters to the editor it seems that some people do not understand what juggling is. In "The Whys Of A Philosophical Scrivener," Martin Gardner cites an anonymous limerick about life. Substitute "juggling" for "life" and the limerick reads like this:
There was a young man of Cadiz Who inferred that juggling is what it is, For he early had learnt If it were what it weren't It could not be that which it is.
I take "sleight" offense at the statement in "The Academic Juggler" that, "Unlike magicians, who hide their skill, the juggler reveals all, yet still performs feats that, to the crowd, are incomprehensible."
By definition, magic is the art that conceals art in order to defy the laws of nature, creating an illusion. The author goes on to say, "It is magic without deceit, and in the stories individuals with such rare power (directly over objects and indirectly over minds) are capable of greatness."
Any "deceit" in the art of conjuring is used for the legitimate purpose of creating in the audience a feeling of awe, wonder, amazement and mystery. Albert Einstein wrote, "The most beautiful emotion that one can experience is that of the mysterious."
I love juggling as much as anyone, but also believe in calling a spade a spade. I think jugglers could use a wee bit more imagination, employ some of the same effects as magicians, and come up with some really good effects. Have fun!
Newark, New Jersey
The Academic Juggler's author, Arthur Lewbel, responds: "It was not my intention to insult magicians, but rather to observe that juggling can generate the same sense of awe and wonder without trickery, and that this is a valuable goal for performers to strive for by whatever means."