By Kyle Petersen

In a recent post on Facebook, I asked the question: If you could create the ultimate juggling prop, what would it be? Anti-gravity juggling balls? A hover rola bola? Lazer-guided throwing knives?

The question resulted in a flurry of responses, ranging from possible to impossible, practical to impractical. Here’s a sample of our favorite responses:

Sean J: How about a static cling contact juggling device? It would have to be round. It would operate on similar principals to rubbing a balloon on your head.. We may have to recharge it from time to time. Though I like this idea of an under-elbow-stall!
We’re not sure if that possible, but you can always contact juggling while suspended from your feet!
Emily L: I think it would be cool if there was a prop that made different sounds so that as you were juggling it would make different rhythms for different tricks. It would add a new dimension.
This is a great concept. You could always fill the balls with different material so they make different sounds when juggled (think of the rhythm Russian balls make). What would be really cool is inserting some sort of computer chip into the balls, and have the balls programed to make different sounds when thrown at different heights or different angles. Though this seems possible, it would take a lot of creativity and technological know-how.
Kit S: A unicycle that you can ride sideways.
As far as we know, there actually is a unicycle that you can ride sideways, though it may not be the most practical mode of one-wheeled transportation.

Creative people are always pushing the envelope by creating new and innovative juggling props. It wasn’t too long ago that LED lighted juggling balls seemed like a fantasy. Now they’re a standard prop. We’d love to hear your ideas, please let us know!


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!


By Kyle Petersen

We’ve all experienced it. Every now and then, we hit ourselves with a club, fall off a rola bola, or trip over our diabolo string. It happens to everyone. Usually, these embarrassing and sometimes painful moments last only an instant, and are only witnessed by a small group of people. Sometimes, however, these moments are captured on video. Here’s our top three juggling fails:

I once had a similar accident, and had a black-eye for a week.

The rider was unscathed. I wish I could say the same about the escalator

The horror, the horror!

Please feel free to send us your funniest or more embarrassing juggling moments.

by Naomi Donabedian

Cirque Du Soleil, the legendary French-Canadian circus entertainment company, has landed on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Audiences have come to regard Cirque’s shows as a blend of whimsical story telling, costumes, and sets populated by impossibly talented circus artists. Banana Shpeel, running from May until the end of August 2010, retreats from Cirque’s tented surreal history and steps uptown to New York City’s glamorous Beacon Theater.

Banana Shpeel is a vaudeville show within a Cirque show with a twist of ironic self-awareness. In one scene, as a flamboyant mime pranced across the stage, the cynical cigar-chomping lead Schmelky quipped that the ladee-dah French are into that kind of thing–a jab at Cirque’s artsy reputation. Perhaps the creators are aware of their Manhattan home, taking advantage of audience goers who may be more comfortable in a Broadway style show rather then Cirque’s magical big top. Banana Shpeel may be winning some new fans with this ticket, but reviews from the show’s previous Chicago location prove they have disappointed much of their base.

As the show went on, glitter, glitz, black light and live music complimented what we came to see: the talent. Tap dancers, singers, and vaudeville acts mixed with circus style contortionists, acrobats, jugglers, and more appear throughout Banana Shpeel. Some acts transitioned more smoothly then others. Hat juggler Tuan Le’s act was a welcome fit with traditions in both vaudeville and the circus. Tuan manipulated 4 bowler hats head, to hand, to foot, pirouetting and kicking up with ease. Tuan’s sombrero style flying hats soared high into the theater for a lofty spectacle. World class antipodist Vanessa Alvarez stunned the crowd with her foot juggling skill. As the show’s center piece, Dima Shine’s hand balancing acrobatics on a pole warped the laws of gravity bending and balancing in any direction he pleased.

Preview tickets of Banana Shpeel are currently open to the public. The show fully opens May 21st. On a visit to Dubé this week Banana Shpeel‘s always on and always kooky clown Claudio Carneiro alluded that the show continues to improve. Any direction Banana Shpeel slip and slides guarantees a funny fall!

Tuan Le & Vanessa Alvarez
Vanessa Alvarez and Tuan Le outside the Beacon Theater.
Photo by Raymond Bono.


Club does not equal pin

Photo by Naomi Donabedian, shirt design by Matt Guzzardo

By Kyle Petersen

In a recent posting on the Dubé Facebook page, I posed the following question:

Do you get upset when non-jugglers call clubs “pins”? Do you find it necessary to correct them?

This innocent question led to a flurry of responses (43 to be exact) with a variety of opinions and attitudes towards juggling terminology. Some people were hard-liners, insisting that it is important to enlighten the ignorant. Others were ambivalent, saying that a club by any other name still juggles. Here’s is a taste of some of the choice comments:

I get even more upset when _jugglers_ call clubs “pins.” You really should know better…
-Wyatt H

Whenever I hear a juggler correcting someone’s word choice, I think: “Well, we just lost another potential friend/fan/juggling partner.” Why not hand someone a so-called “pin” and let them learn to toss it from hand to hand? No reason to act superior because you know a different word.
-Neil T

I’d correct them, but in a nice way. I mean, really…if you are a juggler, you know what those people are talking about. I think it’s more offensive when people find out you can juggle and they say “oh, so you’re a clown or something?” NO!..we are NOT clowns!
-Brandon P

In French the word “quilles” is used by jugglers and bowlers for their different objects. Vive l’indifférence!
-John G

A recent New York Times article about the Brooklyn-based Jugglers Anonymous club refers to clubs as “pins”, rings as “hoops” and cigar box as “cigar-box”. It seems the renowned New York Times Manual of Style and Usage doesn’t cover juggling terminology.

Kip, of the world-famous King Charles Troupe, calls his unicycle a “bike”, even though “bike” refers to a two-wheeled vehicle.

I frequently refer to my cigar boxes as “blocks”. Cigar box manipulation is somewhat esoteric, and few people outside of the juggling world know what I’m referring to when I say “cigar box”. I find that calling them “blocks” makes life much easier. For the record, I frequently refer to juggling clubs as “pins” for the same reason. When I say “club juggling”, laypeople often think of juggling in a night club. When I use to word “pins”, I find I am understood much more readily by non-jugglers.

What are your thoughts? Please let us know!


Dubé Juggling is proud to announce our sponsorship of Eric Bates!

Eric is a master cigar box juggler at The National Circus School in Montreal. Check out this video below, and look for more from Eric in the future.

Eric Bates – Cigar Box Juggler from Ben Philippi on Vimeo.


By Kyle Petersen

Four riders, five boroughs, forty-two miles, all on one wheel.

Sunday, May 2nd, was the 33rd-annual Five Borough Bike Tour. Among the more than 32,000 cycling enthusiasts were Keith Nelson, Rob Hickman, Jason Kahn and myself, who rode the length of the tour on unicycles.

A mild morning quickly gave way to a hot-and-muggy afternoon, and the four of us struggled to stay hydrated. Jason, an 8th grade science teacher, was a useful guy to have around, as he came prepared with all types of anti-dehydration and anti-cramping remedies. If I ever get stranded on a desert island, I want to have Jason there.

Along the way, we ran into Ray Hoffman, an accomplished juggler and long-time Dubé customer, near his home in Astoria, Queens. Ray took some video of us, and gave us some much needed water as we headed to my home borough of Brooklyn.

Upon arriving in Brooklyn, we stopped at Rob’s apartment in Williamsburg to refill our water and to use the bathroom. Rob’s son is a 10-year-old unicycle enthusiast. He pleaded with his father to let him participate on unicycle in the 2011 bike tour. Rob’s response was “we’ll see…” After inhaling clementines and water, we were back on our way.

At this point, the four of us were experiencing varying degrees of dehydration and fatigue. I neglected to wear sunblock, which proved to be a costly mistake. The last quarter of the race was something of a blur. Riding down the Brooklyn Queens Expressway was completely surreal. I have many memories of being stuck in never-ending traffic jams on this stretch of highway. The lack of shade and the heat from the asphalt made the last quarter of the ride extremely challenging.

Maggie Russo

Exiting the BQE was a huge relief. The cool breeze from the Atlantic Ocean was a god-send, as temperatures were in the 80’s and humidity was unseasonably high. Even more exhilarating, however, was the opportunity to ride across the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. Not only did we forgo the ridiculous $11 toll to cross the bridge, we also got to enjoy some breath-taking views of Upper New York Bay. The finish line was at Fort Wadsworth, in the shadow of the Verrazano.

I dedicated my ride to Maggie Russo. Maggie is a toddler with retinoblastoma, a cancer of the eye. She was my inspiration, and kept me going when dehydration and fatigue began to get the better of me. Please visit http://www.maggiesfund.net or http://www.retinoblastoma.net/ to help.

The following is a fairly comprehensive list of upcoming juggling conventions in the USA. Let us know if you’re planning on attending any of these festivals, or if we’ve left anything out!

30th April – 2nd May, 2010 The Little Apple Juggling Festival, Manhattan, KS.
1st May, 2010 University of Arkansas Dayfest and Juggling Show, Fayetteville, AR.
7th – 9th May, 2010 Congress of Jugglers 2010, College Park, MD.
14th – 16th May, 2010 Santa Cruz Juggling and Circus Arts Festival, Santa Cruz, CA.
15th May, 2010 Ann Arbor Juggling Arts Festival, Ann Arbor, MI.
4th – 6th June, 2010 Flatland Juggling Festival, Omaha, NE.
18th – 20th June 2010 Boulder Juggling Festival, Boulder, CO.
19th June, 2010 WJD in Monroe, Veterans Park, Monroe, MI.
9th – 11th July, 2010 Berkeley Juggling and Unicycling Festival, Berkeley, CA.
21st – 25th July, 2010 WJF 6, Riviera Hotel Las Vegas, NV.
24th July, 2010 2010 Christian Jugglers’ Association Free Convention, Lenoir City, TN.
26th – 31st July, 2010 63rd Annual IJA Jugglers’ Festival, Sparks, NV.
13th – 15th August, 2010 Cascade Jugglers’ Festival, Renton, WA.
3rd – 5th September, 2010 NYC Unicycle Festival, New York, NY.
1st – 3rd October, 2010 Kansas City Juggling Festival, Kansas City, MO.
2nd – 3rd October, 2010 Philly Fest 2010, Philadelphia, PA.

Thanks to the Internet Juggling Database.

Jeff Peden actually does juggle, proof with a picture of passing with Bonnie Booth.

by Jeff Peden

At 6:00 pm on April 16th, 2010 the doors opened and the 33rd RIT Spring Juggle-In began. With over 40 people already in attendance for the Free Pizza party, things started quickly. As more and more jugglers arrived, the welcoming hugs and hello’s dropped away and the focus shifted to passing clubs and sharing tricks, to the ever present music playlist provided by Joe Showers. Tim Peterson had been busy setting up the video equipment all afternoon and was ready to capture the event on video from start to finish. Check out the video page at the RIT Club site to see the coverage. At 8:33 pm Cate Emily Flaherty gave a workshop on hand balancing for all those interested. Then at 8:50 pm, when the handstand competition began, she proceeded to “school” everyone by winning with a time of over 1 minute.

Cast of the Public show

This is the hardcore group that arrived at 6:00 p.m. for the opening of the festival & the cast of the Public show with Cate Emily Flaherty, handstand master, in front.

Following the competition was the Big Open. It was only the third time that RIT has had an opening night show, and it is clearly becoming a favorite. Attendance reached a count of 232 people. Free for everyone, and hosted by Warren Hammond of Smirk. The evening had multiple acts with some great variety. Jay Ko handled the camera and did a great job covering the acts which included: yo-yo with Chandler Scott, a ball routine from Micheal Karas, Cate Emily did an Improved ball routine followed by a handstand on rola bola, rings from Norbi, a routine with balls and clubs by RIT student Matt Keil, a Club routine Bekah Smith, Team passing duo Doug Sayers and Josh Horton, box and 2 balls by Chase Hensen and demonstrations of Major League Combat with Jason Garfield. Warren also presented his new favorite skill with the Blockhead routine and a Black and Decker screwdriver. Joe Showers also returned with Juggling Fear Factor, with the coconut neck catch and other stunts. The show was followed by Major League Combat league in one gym, while the main gym was left open for more juggling until closing at 12:03 a.m.

Ritchie the RIT Tiger Jay Ko Unicycle

Ritchie the RIT Tiger & Jay Ko, more than a camera man

Saturday began with a 10:03 a.m. Free Family Matinee which was hosted by Ted Baumhaeur and loaded with performers and an appreciative and overflowing audience of over 200. Performers included Ted himself along with his daughters, Dave Fultz of Gravitational Bull, Jeff Peden and Joe Showers of Airplay, Michael Karas did his puppet juggling routine and Bekah Smith did a flowing Flag poi routine. Immediately following the show there was time for beginners workshops, and photos with Ritchie the RIT Tiger. From then on the Gym became a beehive of activity with multiple workshops going on at once, as well as 6 different vendors tables, and a raffle table loaded with generous donations to which Dube Juggling was proud to be a part of.

During the last 10 years the RIT Juggle-In has focused on raising awareness and funds for research to help create a cure for Dystonia. Last year’s event allowed us to donate $2,000 to the cause and the RIT club has now been able to raise over $20,000 in donations for the Dystonia foundation. Since Dystonia is a condition that can be inherited or acquired and it robs its victims of control over their movements, it is a cause that jugglers can easily relate to.

Club Passing Doug Sayers Michael Karas leads the games

Club passing in the gym Doug Sayers in center & Michael Karas leads in Simon Say

At 2 p.m everyone gathered for our traditional Big Toss-up followed immediately by the games.

Games and results
5 Ball Endurance: Zack Zukas (3:36)
7 Ball Endurance:  Doug Sayers ( 15 seconds +)
Quarter Juggling: Kris Groth

3 Ball Blind Juggling: 1st – Joe Showers (5:16 +) & 2nd – Glen Luke Flanigan

3 Ball Simon Says – Lead by Michael Karas: 1st – Glen Luke Flanigan &  2nd – Joe Showers Note: with volleyballs

Best Trick Juniors (12 and under): Sawyer and Jeannette Oubre Note: 2nd year winners
Best Trick/Seniors: Joe Showers

Hand Stand Endurance: Cate Emily Flaherty

The evening show, held at Rush Henrietta High School gathered 450 people together to watch an unbelievable evening of variety. Smirk, (Warren Hammond and Reid Belstock) Emceed the evening and led off with their interactive two person club routine. Following them and setting the tone for the rest of the evening was Jorden Moir, a world class footbagger and student at the Zacada Circus School in Stoney Creek, Ontario. Jorden proceeded to do a near perfect routine to a standing ovation and an encore involving 7 balls manipulated by both hands and feet. The U of R Strong jugglers did an ensemble piece with balls and anywhere from 4 to 10 people on the stage at a time. Ted Baumhauer then totally engaged the audience with his slack rope routine and boomerang throws above the audience. Cate Emily’s presentation of hand balance was flawless and brought the audience to it’s feet for her excellence. Michael Karas provided his now trademark creativity with pieces involving linked rings, custom castle boxes, and even hot wheels tracks. Norbi brought to the stage the diabolo and ring pieces that he had just done the week before at the BJC, and the Strong Jugglers added yet another ensemble club piece. The big surprise for me was the highly technical nature of the Dazzling Mills performance. I have long enjoyed Steve’s antics on stage and the crazy unicycling. What I was not prepared for was the precision technical passing that enthralled and impressed the lay audience and jugglers alike.

No surprise, but quite the treat was our featured artist Doug Sayers. Doing a nearly flawless version of his IJA Gold medal routine, he closed the show with yet another standing ovation. With the show over, the crowd returned to the gym for another 2 hours of juggling before the majority departed for food at our beloved Jay’s Diner. Known for its milkshakes and tolerance of jugglers, we descended and overloaded their back room with over 50 late night breakfasters.

RIT Club past to the present!

RIT Club past to the present! Back row: Ben Bloom – RIT Club Pres 2007-08, Joe Lott- RIT club Pres 2009-10, Jeff Peden, Eric Lannan – RIT club Pres 2008-09 Front row: Bill Dietrich (33 years and never missed a Juggle-IN!) Greg Moss founder to the Juggle-In

Sunday had its own surprises this year as Greg Moss, the founder of the Juggle-In, managed to pull some strings and get us access to both the small and the large gyms – something we’ve never had before.  With 200 people still in attendance, it was a good thing. Surprising also was the huge turnout for the “working as a Team” forum lead by Warren and Reid, and the brilliant use of newspaper to make quick balancing practice devices by Steve Mills. By 2:03 pm it was time to walk the performers across campus in keeping with a new tradition that we started last year. Each performer signs our official club space “wall of fame”, and then we take a group photo. We even managed to get a photo of Greg Moss and RIT club President Joe Lott! Equally special this year was the fact that RIT club member Clarissa Hastings, who initiated the club wall project last year, was one of the interpreters for the show.

By 3:03 pm it was time to close the gym and the book on the 33rd RIT Spring Juggle-In.

More pictures of the festival on Jeff’s Facebook page. Check out what’s happening with the RIT juggling club on their website.

Apparently, juggling is big business. The Wall Street Journal does a write-up of Michael Moschen’s recent show at NYU’s Skirball Center Saturday April 17th, 2010.

Yes, Michael Moschen. The godfather of modern contact juggling. One of two jugglers ever to win the MacArthur Genius Award (high five to whoever can name the other). The same guy who contact juggled for David Bowie in The Labyrinth. Him.

It’s not every day that a juggler of this caliber passes through our lower Manhattan neighborhood. Michael blew the audience (including a few of us in attendance) away with his silicone ball triangle routine. Take a peek below at the genius.

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