By Kyle Petersen

Summer is around the corner, and that means peak season for juggling. Worried about looking like a geek in front of all of the cool jugglers? Don’t sweat; the Dubé Juggling Blog has your back.

Latest in Juggler Fashion

-Rainbow suspenders are a snazzy way to keep your pants up. Scrolling LED belt buckles are another option. Diabolo string should only be used as a last resort.

-When people hire a juggler, they expect a certain level of cleanliness. Make sure to live up to their expectations by not showering and sleeping in your performance clothes the night before.

-Shoes say a lot about a person. If you wear clown shoes, it says “I’m a clown”. If you go barefoot, it says “I’m a dirty hippie”.

-Hats are not only an awesome way to liven up your on-stage persona, they’re also an effective method of covering up that unsightly juggling knife-related head wound.

-Wearing juggling festival t-shirts every day is a fun, casual way to remind everyone that you go to a lot of juggling festivals.

-Chest hair is the new black. This means it’s safe to break out your sequenced v-neck spandex leotards.

-If performing at a renaissance festival, make sure all of your attire and accessories are period-appropriate. Zippers weren’t invented until 1851, velcro wasn’t invented until 1948, and your bluetooth headset wasn’t invented until 1994.

-Amusing facial hair is a great way to distract the audience from a crappy juggling routine.

-Change your hairstyle depending on the event and location. When juggling in New Jersey, fauxhawks are appropriate. When poi spinning at Burning Man, make sure to weave a bunch of yarn, rooster feathers and other crazy crap into your dreadlocks.

-If you get a high-scale gig but can’t afford a tuxedo, it is acceptable to wear a t-shirt with a picture of a tuxedo.

-A unicycle isn’t just a one-wheeled bicycle with no handlebars, it’s also a fashion accessory. Make sure to “trick out” your wheel by adding chrome spinning rims, a leopard skin print saddle, and a solid gold air cap.

-It’s considered tacky to juggle white props after Labor Day.

By Kyle Petersen


The French have given us many things: the Statue of Liberty, the bikini and of course, the word “juggler”. As Merriam Webster’s dictionary explains, the word “juggler” evolved from the Middle English world jogelour (a minstrel or magician), which came from the Anglo-French term jugleur. This word evolved from the Latin term joculator, a derivative of joculari, which means to joke or to jest. This word, in turn, was derived from the Latin noun iocus, which means “joke”.

The evolution of this word leads us to an interesting conclusion: the first “jugglers” were not jugglers at all. Rather, they were roving performers who made a living telling jokes, singing songs and performing various stunts (which may or may not have included juggling). They were more closely related to troubadours, jesters or minstrels and were not “jugglers” in the modern sense of the word.

Often, these traveling performers were not highly regarded socially, and were known for trickery. It is for this reason that “juggle” has a number of negative connotations. lists “to alter or manipulate in order to deceive” and “to use artifice or trickery” as alternative definitions.

As this blog has pointed out, the word “juggling” has taken on new connotations in recent years. A quick Google News search for “juggling” will find more articles about President Obama juggling priorities in the Middle East than it will about Anthony Gatto or the International Jugglers Association. In common usage, juggling most often refers to the act of multitasking: juggling family and a career, juggling multiple lovers etc.

Even among those who use “juggle” to refer to object manipulation, there isn’t any consensus as to what the word actually means. Some use the term to refer to “toss juggling”; keeping more objects in the air than number of hands used. Others insist that contact juggling, which often envolves only one object, should be considered “juggling” as well. Still more think that cigar box, devil stick and diabolo should be categorized as juggling.

According to Merriam Website, the word “juggle” first appeared in the English language in the 15th century. If the term seems a little vague to you today, just remember that it’s been that way for nearly 600 years.

By Brian Dubé

Claude Shannon

The following is an explanation of  Shannon’s Juggling Theorem, developed by legendary mathematical, engineer and juggler Claude Shannon. This posting is based on articles written by mathematicians Ron Graham and Joe Buhler.

In mathematical terms, a juggler juggles five variables. He is free to vary the number of balls (b) he is juggling, the number of hands (h) he juggles with, the flight time (f) of each ball between his hands, the length of time a hand is empty (e) between catches, and the length of time a ball dwells (d) in a hand between throws. We assume that for a given pattern that all the above variables are constant and that no two balls are ever in the same hand at the same time and that the pattern is periodic (each configuration
of balls occurs at fixed intervals). These assumptions imply that the pattern has a certain symmetry and stable rhythm. This is true for the cascade but not for the shower which requires more complex mathematical descriptions. Consider two time lines, each representing one period (p1 or p2), one from the ball’s perspective and one from the hand’s perspective:

Ball perspective

__d f__     __d f__
1st hand    2nd hand

Hand perspective

__d e__   __ d e__   __d e__
1st ball     2nd ball     3rd ball

From the ball’s perspective, the length of one period is equal to the
number of hands times the combined time that a ball dwells in one hand
and is in flight, for each hand it meets:

a) p1 = h(d+f)

From the hand’s perspective, the length of one period is equal to the
number of balls times the combined time that the ball dwells in a hand
and that the hand is empty, for each ball it meets:

b) p2 = b(d+e)

Since the two periods are equal (p1=p2) (just considered from two different perspectives) we have:

c) b(d+e)=h(d+f) or:

d) b/h=(d+f)/(d+e)

We call this Shannon’s Juggling Theorem.

We can see from this theorem that each variable in juggling is related to and affected by changes in the others. Many relationships can be explored with this theorem. For example, what are the limits of the juggler’s freedom to vary the speed of a juggling pattern? We can fix the number of balls, hands, and the throw height (and, therefore, the flight time). The juggler can slow the pattern down by holding the ball longer or can speed it up by releasing each ball faster. The limit in the first case where the ball is held as long as possible is: empty time=0. Using equation c) above and setting e=0, we get:

e) bd=h(d+f).

The limit in the second case where the ball is held as short as possible is:
dwell time=0. Setting d=0 we get:

f) be=hf.

The ratio of these two extremes (between fastest and slowest) is bd/be=d/e
Solving equation e) for d yields d=(hf)/(b-h).
Solving equation f) for e yields e=(hf)/b.
So the ratio of fastest to slowest speeds (or period lengths) is
d/e=[(hf)/(b-h)]/[(hf)/b] or:

g) b/(b-h)

According to this ratio, b/(b-h), the range of possible juggling speeds decreases with the number of balls (and increases with the number of hands). So for a juggler using two hands and three balls, the ratio between the fastest and slowest speeds is 3/(3-2) or three to one. For a jugglerusing two hands and SEVEN balls, the ratio is 7/(7-2) or only 1.4 to one. Thus, one can see how the addition of more balls dramatically constrains the juggler. Of course, the extremes of fast and slow juggling are only possible in theory since a juggler can’t make the dwell time or empty time actually equal to zero. Therefore, the ratio of achievable speeds is even smaller.

We would like to thank Ron Graham and Joe Buhler for use of their work…
and of course a special thanks to Claude Shannon.

Co host Steve “TheGoHeads” Hogan and Richard “Reeses” Kohut talking about the Fountain of light project, Michael Karas actually juggling the Will Ferrell’s fake juggling scene tv show The Office, Excalibur Evolution with Matt Hall, Does watching juggling videos regularly along with practice double your ability?, and the Bungay Balls UP 2011 convention, and more hilarious banter.

Listen to more episodes of Jugglers on Juggling on Reeses’ website

As part of our partnership with El Circense, the Spanish language digital magazine, we will be republishing some of their original content, in English. This week, we present an in-depth interview with juggler Luke Burrage from January 2010.

By Marco Paoletti

Luke Burrage Cover El Circense Magazine

Who is Luke Burrage?

I’m Luke Burrage, and I’m a juggler. I first learned to juggle back in 1991, got more serious about it around 1997, and turned professional in 2003.

What is your speciality?

Over the years I’ve specialized in many different areas. Once I was best known for numbers juggling, equaling the world record with a 12 ball flash, and setting passing records with Ben Beever at 18 then 19 balls. I also did a lot of research into juggling notation, developing a system called Beatmap, which isn’t that widespread, but I find useful on an almost daily basis.

I’ve also been well known for releasing juggling videos online. Back in 2001 and 2002, long before YouTube made sharing videos effortless. I was getting 300-400 video downloads per day from my website. That’s probably more daily views than my YouTube channel in 2010!

I’m also known for my writing and other media activities. I released Juggling Podcasts for a few years, where I interviewed other jugglers and gave workshops. I write for Kaskade magazine, and my photograph is being included more and more often in other magazines too. Also, since 2003 I’ve compiled the Top 40 Most Popular Jugglers of the Year list, as voted by other jugglers online, and release the results in creative ways (text, audio and video so far).

I love three club Combat. I’m probably one of the top four combat players in the world. Unfortunately the only person who can consistently beat me at combat also lives in Berlin. Playing against Jochen Pfeiffer is always a lesson in humility.

These days I guess I’m best known for performing at juggling festivals like the EJC, where I also organize and host many events.

As for juggling itself, I still love inventing and working on new tricks and patterns, and I often share them on YouTube. Clubs, rings and balls all have unique properties that I enjoy exploring.

The way I work is to take a “given” about juggling, and break that rule. For example, I put a lot of work into squeeze catches, the technique of catching two balls in the same hand at the same time. A time-reversed multiplex, if you will. People write down a Siteswap for such a trick, see two balls landing on the same beat, and consider it “invalid”. For me it isn’t invalid, it just needs more work. Sometimes, like learning squeeze catches with clubs, can take years of work, and result in about 90 seconds of tricks.

And then, when someone else sees the trick, they don’t only know how to do it, but also that it is possible. They don’t have to work out the technique, and just learn the hand movements. A pattern that takes me six months to get solid, because I go down so many false paths, can be learned in twenty minutes with the right instruction.

How many different acts do you have?

I have many acts, with balls, clubs, rings and diabolo. On top of that I have a series of acts with objects that aren’t designed for juggling, including table tennis paddles and balls, and other sporting equipment. I find this invaluable for connecting with an audience. Nobody knows what a juggling club feels like, but everyone has held a waste paper basket!

When I first got into performing, I made sure to perform at every convention I attended. For a few years I went to over 18 conventions per year. As far as I could, I tried to do something new in each show.

This means that over the years I’ve performed more acts than I can count. Some were very spontaneous. Some took upwards of eight months planning and training. Unfortunately, months of planning isn’t a good indicator of continuing success with an act. The two most theatrical acts I’ve put together, each taking more than eight months, I performed twice and once respectively. And then, one thing I tried out at a spontaneous renegade in a gym, where I juggle and get myself tangled up in a jacket. I performed regularly for seven years until I lost the jacket back in January.

Thankfully I’ve become better at knowing if an act will work with an audience. Now I only put months of work into a project if I’m confident.

I’m currently working on a full length theater show, with a massive rotating stage, in which I can walk on the ceiling and juggle upside down. It’s ambitious, and it’s already two years in the making. I put in three years of thought and planning before starting it.

Where do you perform?

Currently, my main venue for performing is on cruise ships. Many people have strong negative conceptions about cruise ship entertainment, and unfortunately most are born out of reality.

However, I don’t compromise at all in what I perform on stage, no matter what the audience. Every single routine in my 50 minute show was developed for a juggling convention, except one which comes from my street show. When I tell other jugglers I perform, on cruise ships, a very nerdy 3 ball and video projection routine, in which I recite siteswaps and trick names, they don’t believe it. However, that same routine is often the highlight of the entire show for my audience, and the one they ask me about most after my shows. If you treat an audience with respect, any audience, they’ll reward you for it.

I still perform at street show festivals, juggling conventions and variety theaters, but don’t actively pursue these gigs any more. Having an agent who gets me jobs where I don’t work much, and get paid well, means I lack motivation to put in the same time and effort for harder work that pays less.

How do you train?

I have a juggling studio at home, and I practice my juggling routines for over an hour each day I’m home. When I’m traveling I get less practice, and usually just work on the routines I’m going to perform in my next show.

When developing a new act I put in much more work, and it’s highly structured. As a professional, the last thing I want to do is drop too much on stage. Here’s an example of how I work.

Once an act is roughly choreographed, I run though each section ten times in a row, and make note of where I’m dropping most. If I see a trick is causing more drops than others, I’ll train it hard in isolation. If, after a few days, I can’t do it 10 times in a row without a drop, I consider it too random, or too difficult, and replace it with an easier version.

Once the choreography is locked down, I’ll keep running through the routine ten times per day, and note how many times I drop.

After a few weeks, I usually have a routine to the point where I can do the entire thing ten times in a row, and make just two or three drops in total. At that point, I know it’s ready to show on stage. It’s also highly motivating to know I can do an hour-long training session and only drop three times.

Of course, I still drop on stage, but in a 50 minute show, I’ll only make two or three unchoreographed mistakes.

Any advice for new jugglers?

I don’t have much advice for new jugglers, but here are a few things relevant to jugglers who want to start performing.

First, perform at every opportunity. You can get good at juggling by training by yourself. The only way to improve on stage is to have an audience.

Second, if you can’t make a trick ten times in a row in practice, don’t try to do it on stage.

Third, don’t let the only source of dramatic tension be juggling. By this I mean you must have another concept in your act except “look at me, I can do a hard trick.” That’s fine if you’re Anthony Gatto, if you are the best juggler in the world, but if you are just starting out, you’re not him. Have another concept which still exists when you drop.

When I drop, I still have a highly engaging and charismatic stage persona. Or I have a video that’s still playing.

What are your favorite memories of performing around the world?

I love performing in different countries, to people who don’t speak or understand much English. I consider it a challenge to entertain them with my juggling and comedy, using only English, and still get a good reaction. To do this I make sure everything I say and do, comedically, is routed in something physical or visual. Many comedy jugglers just say one-liners, and then juggle three objects, but I don’t find that as useful.

Traveling is something I do both for work and as a hobby, and over the past few years I’ve been videoing myself juggling in every new country I visit. At the latest count I’ve juggled in about 65 countries and territories.

One favorite memory is performing a street show in Antarctica. Of course, there are no streets in Antarctica, and there were more penguins than human audience members, and the hat money was zero, because why would the audience carry money when the nearest shop is two thousand km away?

What are your workshops like?

I don’t do many workshops, though I would like to in the future. I have space and insurance to run workshops in my own studio, and did so a few years ago. I concentrated on my speciality, which is performing juggling in unusual ways.

I sometimes teach workshops at conventions, but I’m usually too busy organizing other events to do longer workshop courses.

What do you think of the international juggling scene?

As far as I can tell, the juggling scene is very healthy. I’m connected a bit less these days. I used to go to 20 conventions a year, and now I go to only four or five.

What is your favorite object and why?

I love different juggling props for different reasons. I love balls, as they are the easiest thing for me to juggle on stage. I love rings, as there are so many ways to manipulate them compared to balls. And I love clubs. Even if I only have one or two, I can still invent as many new tricks as I want.

What projects are you working on for the future?

I’m currently working on a theater show which takes place entirely within a single room. I’ve been working on the technical side of the show for the past two years, and have most things in place. Now I need to cast the other two parts of the show, and then it’ll probably be a mere two years more before it is performed for the first time in a theater!

I need to work with other people on this because I want it to be beautiful and sexy as well as clever and funny. As a juggler, I can do clever and funny and technical and many other things, but I’ll cast a duo of dancers or acrobats to provide the young, sexy and beautiful.

Aside from that project, I’m continually working on new material to go in my existing show. I hope to reduce the props I need to carry from my current 19 kg case down to few enough props (and no knives) so they can fit in my carry-on luggage when I fly.

What is your participation with the EJC like?

I’m heavily involved in running the EJC. I try to avoid doing any work in advance, and then run all the open stages during the convention, along with organizing other events like the Fight Night. At the EJC I’m no longer known as a juggler, but instead “that guy who always hosts the first show.”

How would you describe the EJC to a juggler who has never been?

The biggest and best juggling convention every year? It’s hard to view it any other way. Even if the convention itself is badly organized, or the shows aren’t up to scratch, there are always enough friends and interesting jugglers around to make it a highlight of my year. And I would know, as I’ve now been to ten in a row!

Do you have anything else to say?

There are no rules.

Visit Luke Burrage’s website for more info:

Co-host Perry Romanowski and Reese discuss the recent news in joggling, juggling robots, Jay and Wes’s “43 tricks” routine, Joe Showers’s “How i Met My PX3’s”, specific questions about tricks and what is being focused on during joggling, and the Flatland Juggling Festival on their Jugglers on Juggling podcast. Catch more JoJ episodes, the only juggling podcast, on Reese’s website:

By Kyle Petersen

Yannick in Cote d'Ivoire

In February, Dubé Juggling Blog featured an interview with Yannick Foe, a Cameroon-born juggler based in the volatile West African nation of Cote d’Ivoire. When we talked to Yannick in February, Cote d’Ivoire was still reeling from November’s hotly contested presidential election. Although the international community recognized that former Prime Minister Alassane Ouattara had won the election, incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo refused to admit defeat, prompting months of bitter sectarian and political violence.

We remained in contact with Yannick throughout the conflict. Despite the intense violence, Yannick continued to juggle every day. In March, around the height of the violence, Yannick wrote the following:

Currently the country’s situation is very serious and many citizens are leaving the country. I would like to leave too, but I don’t know how.

I am well and family back home are okay, but I have a real fear that drives me now and I’m worried about the situation of the country and our future here. It is difficult to live with these killings.

Each day the situation continues to get worse and according to rumors, there will soon clash of the two governments and it’s very scary.

In April, President Gbagbo was captured by the forces of Mr. Ouattara, the internationally recognized winner of November’s election. Although violence still continues, it appears the worst is over. As a new regime takes power in Cote d’Ivoire, there is hope for stability and a return to normalcy. In response, Yannick wrote the following on his Facebook page:

Hello my fellow jugglers,

I pray to God to grant me life after what I saw before my eyes in the post election crisis that took place in Cote d’Ivoire. I thought I would lose my life, because there is a shortage of hope, but I am still here thanks to God.

Our thoughts go out to Yannick, his family, and all those effected by violence and political instability throughout the world.

By Kyle Petersen

Baseball is “America’s pastime”. Soccer is known as the “beautiful sport”. Boxing is “the sweet science”. Unicycle football? Well, unicycle football is pretty much THE MOST AWESOME THING EVER.

Founded in 1998, the San Marcos, Texas-based Unicycle Football League is sweeping… the Greater Austin Metropolitan Area. Unicycle football is similar to American football, with the obvious exception that all the players are on unicycles. The UFL consists of six teams: The Berzerkers, the Gnarwhals, the Hot Dogs, the Unicychos, the Ill Eagles and Hell on Wheel. The league features a number of local sponsors, a detailed rule book, and a annual championship game known as The Stupor Bowl. Below, you can watch the local news broadcast coverage of the league.

Unicycle football hikes into Central TX:

By Kyle Petersen

The term “juggling” gets “thrown” around a lot (no pun intended). A simple Google search of the word nets results ranging from the world of politics (Obama’s juggling act in the Middle East), sports (The Yankees are juggling their lineup) and romance (Juggling family, work and love). As a concept, juggling has essentially been reduced to an ill-fitting metaphor describing someone who multi tasks.

The concept of juggling has been so overused as a metaphor this day in age that it has basically been rendered meaningless. Recently, a friend told me that he was juggling two different women. I told him that he wasn’t actually juggling, as you need at least three for it to qualify. He told me to lighten up, it’s just an expression. We’re no longer friends.

Enough is enough. We as jugglers must stand up and speak with a common voice: No to inappropriate juggling metaphors. They dilute us as a people, denigrate our art form and threaten the fiber of our very existence.

By Kyle Petersen

Unicyclists: The Enemy With

Last week, Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report went in depth, exposing the hidden dangers of unicyclists. The segment revealed some startling facts about the one-wheeled menace:

-A 180-pound unicyclist moving at 10 miles per hour can cause more damage than a linebacker in the NFL.
-Unicycles are capable of creating a “domino effect” of pedestrians, leading to mass casualties.
-These one-wheeled death traps ARE coming to run over your babies.
-The law is powerless to stop them.

Below, you can watch the segment. Because of graphic unicycle-on-pedestrian violence, viewer discretion is advised.

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