Words and Photos by Christian Kloc

Viveca Gardiner, New York City juggler and combat referee, cascades five balls on Friday evening.

Viveca Gardiner, New York City juggler and combat referee, cascades five balls on Friday evening.

No laws, but plenty of clubs, were passed a week ago at the 18th Annual Continental Congress of Jugglers at the University of Maryland in College Park. About 50 jugglers gathered in Ritchie Coliseum on Friday, May 8, to start things off. The night was filled with informal juggling and relaxing in the gym.

The next day, Bob Swaim, arrived with his imaginative cycles, including a three-person bike with forward and rear-facing seats. JoAnn Swaim and Kelly Heck each managed to juggle five balls while Bob steered the vehicle.

I led a 3-ball bounce and 3-club workshop and club treasurer Matthew Bishop taught basic poi. Games started around 3 p.m., ranging from 3-ball Simon says to the crowd-pleasing diabolo in a box. Game winners include: Chris Hodge (7-ball endurance, 5-ball endurance), Andrew Hodge (3-ball Simon says), John Chase (club gathering), Kelly Heck (diabolo in a box) Brian Knobbs and Chris Hodge (6-club passing race).

Tomer runs a seven ball cascade, from two angles. From Christian Thomas Kloc

Tomer runs a seven ball cascade.

The Saturday night show, from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the gym, featured a wide variety of talent and performance styles, emceed by Phil DePalo. Tomer, a young juggler who was performing for a large audience for the first time, amazed everyone with a run of seven balls and many other advanced tricks. Ashley Ellis presented an exotically themed routine with uniquely choreographed club juggling and her usual three-baton flair.

Chris Hodge astounded the crowd with his highly technical juggling and musical timing. Brandon Barnette mixed it up with some pop-and-lock dancing, sliding across the floor and smoothly transitioning from slow to fast movement. Alan Hodge, father of the Hodge juggling dynasty, performed a novel three-club routine in which he swung clubs seamlessly throughout the pattern. Heather Hackett Marriott and Neil performed an acrobatic juggling and hula-hoop routine. I showcased a three- to seven-ball bounce routine and three-club sequence I’ve been working on since the summer. Matt Baker, a Seattle-based entertainer, closed the show with some stand-up comedy and garden weasel juggling.

In between acts, Jason Garfield presented his new Major League Combat games – zombie, sumo, kill the king and 360s combat. The explanations featured demonstration rounds of combat between Team Hodge (Alan, Chris, Andrew and Jason “Hodge”) and Team Non-Hodge (Matthew Wise, Adam Van Houten, Brian Knobbs and myself). The evenly matched contests provided some athletic, at times comedic, displays of combative skill for the audience to enjoy.

After the show, a few brave souls attempted fire juggling and spinning in windy and cold conditions, while onlookers huddled to stay warm. Several jugglers seemed to develop a zombie-like addiction to playing zombie combat, which proceeded well into the evening before the gym closed at Midnight. Sunday featured more informal passing, combat, and reminiscing about a weekend well-spent with juggling friends.

The club would like to thank Dubé for its sponsorship and for everyone who showed up to make the festival a success. Stay tuned for the next congressional session in 2011!

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