~ CJC 2001 ~
infinite illusions dot com
Kae is a system administrator with contact juggling as a serious hobby. He's been messing with his balls since the tender age of sixteen, and has found it to be a fulfilling pastime. His reasons for learning CJ include individuality, combined with aesthetics and virtuosity. Although he has never performed on stage, he has thrilled party-goers and coworkers, and looks forward to the day he has a captive audience. Through the years he has developed technical ability to counter the lack of fluidity in his moves. He loves teaching, and is always willing to offer a helping word.

Kae's History

I remember the thrill when I found out that the crystal manipulation in The Labyrinth weren't a special effect... That was about ten years ago, when I was just becoming a teenager. I learned the moves I saw in the film, but didn't go any further, as I didn't know there was any "further", and was too young to experiment properly. Also, I had so many hobbies that concentrating on one in specific would have taken me from the rest. So I learned a very shaky butterfly, back-back passes, and reasonable palmspins, then shelved my pool balls (remember - I was just a kid - I couldn't afford proper balls) and went back to my skateboard.

Then, one day when I was sixteen, I was just finished a gig in a pub - Fibber's in Ireland, lead guitarist for a band called Boladh (Irish for "Smell") - and noticed a guy (Rob - can't remember his second name) doing the moves I had learned a few years before. He used 2.5 inch crystals, and it looked so much better than I'd ever remembered me looking. Then he started doing things I'd not thought of. Rolling the balls up his arms, doing two ball butterflies, and such. I decided that I was going to go back to this hobby, and learn all the stuff I could remember him doing.

Luckily, I had a friend, Paul Wills, who was interested in learning it as well, so I had someone to pace myself against. Nothing helps you progress like a little competition.

Paul had an advantage in learning the basic moves - his fingers are all double jointed, so he could curve them back and cath the ball in the cradle much easier than I could. I remember doing stretching exercises on my fingers, trying to give them a bit more flexibility. I eventually just learned to do the cradle properly with my "handicap" (the handicap of having normal fingers...).

Luckily for me, I managed to get James Ernest's book Contact Juggling ordered, as Paul and myself very quickly learned all of Rob's tricks, and were running out of ideas.

Once the book came, I outstripped Paul in technical ability, although he is still a lot more fluid than I am.

Rob left the country, leaving Paul and I as the only contact jugglers in Dublin. That meant that I was suddenly the best in Dublin... But as there were only two of us, I didn't really feel as thrilled as I would have been if there were, say, ten.

Back then, I was using a couple of plastic waterfilled balls I got from a pound shop for a mere three pounds. I needed to get some better balls...

On my eighteenth birthday, I got a call from a shop saying that the balls I'd ordered were in the shop. I looked down at the money in my hand I'd just received as a birthday gift, and a grin split my face.

Less than half an hour later, I was spinning four glass 2.5 inch balls.

Let me tell you something about glass balls. They're heavy. If you learn to back-back pass with glass balls, you'll learn very quickly to do it smoothly, or you'll spend the next few weeks with bruised hands.

A great thing about them, though, was that they were smooth, and didn't break as easily as you might think. When you dropped one, though, the mark didn't go away. No amount of cleaning will get rid of the result of glass falling down a flight of marble steps.

After a while, I lost contact with Paul. I see him every now and then, but there is not much of that contact juggling competition left - he's content to stay with the skills he has. That meant that I had no competition, which meant that I had to find some other reason to keep learning, or the skills I'd spent so long learning would stagnate.

That's when I started teaching other people. I realised that the reason nobody else did contact juggling was because nobody else had much contact with it.

I started going to a juggling club in Trinity College. Two people there were already competent CJers, so I didn't have to start teaching from scratch. two or three others were quick students, and became avid CJers.

The club was the first real exposure I had to acrylics apart from seconds of messing with Paul's and Rob's a few years ago.

Unfortunately, the club closed for summer, but fortunately, I managed to get a prolonged loan of their acrylics, and bought eleven of my own before it reopened in Oct/2000 and I had to give the first three back.

I started this site in about September 1999 (not in this exact URL, though) as a tutorial for CJers because I was fed up of frustrating searches and seeing the same site referenced over and over, and that site not being updated (Ray Bowers' site). Since starting the site, it's been like a breath of fresh air. I feel like this is what I could do for the rest of my life, and other CJers seem to like the site as well.