firstname.lastname@example.org Thanks to the others of the “Four Horsemen” - Ferret, Rich, and Marco – for providing the shoves I needed to finish this.
Thanks to Ferret in particular for hosting the first ever contact juggling convention.
Also, thanks to Rich in particular for www.contactjuggling.com, without which I wouldn’t have felt the need to constantly improve .org (competition is great…)
Also, thanks in particular to Marco for providing lifesaving assistance when the website was in threat of disappearing.
Thanks to the many wonderful people in the contact juggling community, for pushing us to keep refining and creating moves. I can’t name them all, but a few might be Shifty, Lance, the various Matt[e]s, Klas, Chico, Ian (the Four Horsemen’s Stableboy), and all the other people. Sorry if I haven’t mentioned your name – the Contact Juggling community is immense, and I have a book to write!
Thanks to all the people who contributed their experience and videos to the www.contactjuggling.org website. This book is an almost direct consequence of your creativity.
Thanks to Bronwyn, for sometimes letting me sit at my computer so I could produce this.
Thanks to Michael Moschen for his video, and James Ernest for his book.
Up until very recently, this rare form of juggling was unknown to the general public. It was looked down on by a lot of the mainstream jugglers, and it was impossible to find any more than half a dozen websites that had any information on the art. All that has changed. Contact juggling turns up in the strangest places now, and almost every person has seen at least one person magically roll a ball around his/her arms. Contact juggling turns up in music videos – “Pommes Frites” by The Orb, for example – books – Robert Jordan’s “Wheel of Time” mentions a man rolling golden globes over his arms and body – television shows – Star Trek DS9 has a scene where a man can be seen in the background contact juggling – and, of course, films – Jim Henson’s “The Labyrinth” is the most famous example. Up until very recently, there was no sign that a revolution was about to take place. Every search for contact juggling on the Internet returned the same three or four sites, and those sites had not been updated in years. I had read The Book – “Contact Juggling” by James Ernest, and had studied every move in it – there are only a few that I still cannot do, and I’m not certain that they are possible at all. One day, I came across an Internet mailing list concerning contact juggling. I was overjoyed – for years I had been developing my skills in isolation – my only contact with another contact juggler being Paul Wills, who started learning at the same time as me, but left off developing his skills after he reached a level sufficient for his own purposes. The mailing list gave me a chance to learn what other people had been doing. Those of us who had been CJing for years had been doing exactly as I had – searching the Internet irregularly, and becoming despondent when the same lack of news was returned. In 1999, together with Marco Van Der Bijl, I created www.contactjuggling.org; a website dedicated to teaching new contact jugglers, and providing a community website for us all. The site brought out the contact juggler in a lot of people who would otherwise have passed it by. New people came, and brought fresh variations on old moves – Shifty, Lance Coombes, and Matthew Olsen, for example. New moves were also created by people who had been regulars in the original mailing list – Marco, Ferret, and myself, for example. This book is an effort to bring to the public what has been created since James Ernest wrote his book. I have tried to describe as many different moves as I could. There are still many, many more moves that I could have placed in the book, but I had to stop writing at some point and publish the thing. If you are new to the world of contact juggling, then I hope you find this book easy to follow. If you are an experienced contact juggler, I hope you find enough variations and difficult moves to keep you busy for a few months.
What Is Contact Juggling?
According to James Ernest's book, "Contact Juggling" – which originally coined the term – contact juggling is "manipulations of single objects or object groups, usually involving very little tossing or spinning". According to the community website – www.contactjuggling.org, Contact Juggling is half dance, juggling, mime and magic . Contact Juggling is almost always about balls – whether they’re silicon, acrylic, or plain tennis balls, it is rare to find a person doing something with anything other than balls, and calling it Contact Juggling. Staff-spinning, pencil-manipulation, coin-rolling and other such stuff could theoretically be called “Contact Juggling” using the definition, but they already have their own names. Contact Juggling has been accepted as solely belonging to the manipulation of balls using the body, and shouldn’t be confused with other forms of object manipulation.
The best way to really get to know what contact juggling is to see it in action.
Michael Moschen's PBS video, "In Motion", has a section at the end where he is contact juggling – although he prefers the term "Dynamic Balance" or “Dynamic Manipulation” - perhaps he is more entitled to call it by either of those names, as he was “CJing” before the term was invented. He can also be seen in Jim Henson’s film “The Labyrinth”; he is the hands of Jareth in the crystal manipulation scenes – no, that is not David Bowie doing it. No. It is not. No. Speaking of terms, there are many – "Dynamic / Crystal / Contact - Manipulation / Balance", "Ball/Sphere/Orb Rolling" are just a few. The average name for the art is "Contact Juggling", and that is how I will refer to it throughout the book. There is a small glossary of terms near the end of the book that can be referred to whenever I forget to explain one. Contact Juggling can be broken into two separate forms, each of which can be combined at a later stage to form more complex moves. The first form is ball-rolling, where balls are rolled over the hands, arms, chest, head, back, etc. The ball rolls from one point to another. This is the most basic form of contact juggling. The windshieldwiper is the first contact juggling move which should be learned from this form, where the ball rolls from the palm to the back of the hand, then rolls back again. The second form is palmspinning, where groups of two or more balls are spun in the hands. Up to eleven balls are used in palm-spinning routines. Although contact juggling usually means the balls stay in contact with the body, a lot of contact jugglers like to put tosses in their moves. These moves are sometimes looked down on by “purists”, but I believe that bending the “rules” of contact juggling should be allowed where the result is a fascinating move.