By Kyle Petersen

One of the biggest downsides to juggling is that no matter how much you practice and prepare, you will still drop. In juggling, you’re only as good as your last toss; one errant throw can destroy an otherwise beautiful 5-ball cascade. The juggler’s concentration is fragile, susceptible to light, noises, gusts of wind, strong gravity, etc. Sometimes, the safest thing is not to juggle.

Don’t get me wrong, you still should juggle. But there are many skills that don’t involve juggling that will lengthen and add variety to your act. Your audience, in turn, will appreciate seeing a diversity of performance skills.

If you are looking to add length and some fun audience participation, consider adding a spinning plate act to your routine. Simple plastic spinning plates can easily be spun by audience members with a little assistance. The plates can be passed from one audience member to another. Allowing your audience to participate in the performance is a great way to engage the crowd and create opportunities for humor.

Kyle Petersen performs in Brooklyn

Hula hoops are another great option. Why? Something about hula hooping is inherently funny. With a little practice you will be able to do enough basic maneuvers to keep an audience entertained. Try hooping while juggling, or combine the hula hoop with other skills. Perhaps you can challenge an audience member to a hula hoop dance competition. The possibilities are endless.

Natalie McFancy, hooping it up with some children

One of my favorite props to work with is a trick rope, also known as a wild west rope, also known as a lasso, also known as a rope. The art of the trick rope takes years to master, but some basic tricks can be attained within a few months. One of the nicest things about the trick rope is that it is very light weight and won’t take up much space in your suitcase; perfect for the juggler on the go!

Chris McDaniel, photo by Norman Blake

Chris McDaniel, photo by Norman Blake

What are your favorite non-juggling props? Let us know in the comments below!

  • Walter Beals

    Don’t forget jokes, and physical theatre to fill in some non-juggling gaps. Or acrobalance, if you have a partner. Or taking your clothes off!

  • Chris McDaniel

    I believe that a flat loop, wedding ring, and maybe even a Texas Skip is attainable by most anybody. And if you can do just one or two of those most people will be highly impressed.

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