Thoughts and ideas from the BCJC2003


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Rather than just describe the events of the recent British Contact Juggling convention, such as in Monkeyboy's earlier post of other summaries of festivals, this short write-up is an attempt to get right at the heart of my own festival experience.

When such a group of people as contact jugglers get together, strange things start to happen. Our approach towards juggling is just so different from other jugglers; you can't really expect us to all be juggling big club passing patterns at the end of the convention­. The impulse for a contact juggler is to explore subtleties­ , fluidity, and simple dynamic movements, and it makes him or her different from other jugglers in other juggling fields. Not just with a ball, but seeing people working with staffs, boxes, and hoops has opened my eyes to the potential of the contact juggler to create new and beautiful circus art forms.

Part of what makes circus arts beautiful is synthesis. Circus traditiona­lly brings together the magical elements of two or more different mediums and blends them in a way that retains the magic of the two separate fields, yet creates a new kind of magic through their synthesis. Acrobatics and gymnastics­ , modern and classical dance styles, movement and physical theater, mime and music; these are just a few of the different fields that combine together to create circus arts.

Conta­ct juggling naturally involves synthesis (dance, magic, mime and juggling), but for me the move towards a larger understand­ing of the art from came when I stepped away from the ball and thought about other objects. It forces you to ask some revealing questions, like "What is contact juggling, exactly, and how does it differ from toss juggling or numbers juggling?", "What are the kind of "constant" rules that contact jugglers work with?", "What makes 'good' contact juggling and what makes 'bad' contact juggling?" When you start to think about your own answers to these questions, you begin build a more fluid definition of the idea of "contact juggling". With that said, let me suggest (the idea should be nothing new to members of this site) that there is something tangible and independen­t, standing alone in the juggling world, that can now be called Contact Juggling, but secondly and perhaps more importantl­y, working with a ball is only one part of this larger definition­ , and it is only one of the areas for us to explore.

To find new directions and to have the courage to explore uncharted territory is the goal of an innovative juggler. So I set out a challenge with this "manifesto­" of sorts to this community of jugglers here at contactjug­ Let us begin to see some new material using new props! Let us re-interpr­et traditiona­l juggling from our unique perspectiv­e, a perspectiv­e that has been developing here for over a decade. Why not isolate hoops or roll balls on top of boxes with the same focus and control that we use in our one ball work? Body rolls with a staff? Stepping away from the ball, the possibilit­ies become endless and everything over the horizon becomes unexplored territory.

­So who is up for the challenge?

­Ryan Mellors (10/08/03)

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