Interview with Scott Seltzer

on 7 January 2004 by Daan Yperman for Circusplanet.net


1. You're member of the International Numbers Organisation, what is it about? What's your work in it?

I'm the newest member (I joined in early 2003) but I came at a crucial time - just as Vova and Olga were setting all their passing records. I think I've been involved in one other record validation but we also have occasional other deliberations about the future of the JISCON.

2. Some time ago there was a discussion about Jason Garfield on rec.juggling. What do you think about him? What about Anthony Gatto?

I assume you're talking about personalities, not juggling ability. I enjoy Jason's sense of humor as expressed in his videos and IJA routines. I don't know much more about him than that. Gatto has even less character from the performance pieces I've seen (that's not his style) and I don't know much about him other than about his juggling. I appreciate both of these jugglers for pushing limits in juggling - they are among my favorite jugglers.

3. What about your sister, who learnt you to juggle, does/did she juggles good?

She learned enough to perform as a clown for a few years back in the late 70s. I know she can still juggle 3 balls and do 2 or 3 basic tricks. I know I learned rings back then so she probably did, too.

4. The Israeli Juggling Convention is a very popular one, what have made its success?

Itsik Orr gets a lot of credit for organizing the convention the past 3 or 4 years. He's very professional in all his dealings and really knows how to negotiate things well. He knows a lot of people and is good at delegating responsibilities and also borrowing equipment and therefore he saves the convention a lot of money and he passes that on to the jugglers by a very low admission fee. Previous juggling conventions in Israel did set some groundwork but Itsik really took it to new levels.

When I came to Israel in 1992, the juggling community seemed to be mostly immigrants from English speaking countries and the occasional Israeli who learned to juggle on his post-army trip to the far east. Somehow juggling started catching on and by the mid to late 90s Israel had a proper juggling shop in the hippest part of Tel Aviv. By then there were core juggling groups in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and the craze spread.

5. Is it difficult to organise a convention like these?

I was the main organizer of the 1997 Israeli Juggling Convention. It was the 2nd of the modern conventions and was 2 days compared to the previous year's 1 day. There were a lot of logistics involved in getting 100 jugglers together and I didn't delegate things very well but overall it was a success. I can't say I exerted too much effort on the work prior to the convention; the days of the convention was busy and I didn't get to fully enjoy it as it was happening. I don't intend to be the main organizer again but I've helped with all the conventions since. The past 3 years I've been workshops organizer and I make other contributions as well.

6. Do you've got any tips for other festival organisers?

Nothing particular.

7. What about juggling in Israel? Are there a lot of jugglers? clubs? Conventions? Vendors?

So, question 4 answered some about the earlier history. There are currently 4 main clubs in Israel: Jerusalem, Tel Aviv/Yafo, Pardes Hanna, and Raanana. The Jerusalem club has been going on and off since just before I moved to Israel in 1992 - we are frequently looking for a suitable place but now have something smallish but at least it's in a very good location geographically. The Tel Aviv club recently opened at the end of 2003 and has a nice group of jugglers at a pretty high level. Pardes Hanna is probably the largest group but unfortunately for me is quite far away. The Raanana is an informalish group of excellent teenage jugglers.

The juggling shop mentioned in question 4 closed a few years ago but there are a few importers but I think only one with a proper store (it's a magic shop). There are a couple people who hand make juggling props (bags, devilsticks, diabolos, poi, and more).

The 2003 convention had about 800 jugglers and I know tens of jugglers that weren't there. The Jerusalem club has a one day event in the park every year and there was also a small winter convention a couple years ago but really the springtime convention is the real event of the year here.

8. What country do you think, it's the greatest country for jugglers? Why?

From what I can tell the most juggling clubs and conventions are in the UK and possibly Germany. Those people are lucky to have so much available to them.

9. What's the best convention you ever have going to?

Well, I don't really get out much. Outside of Israel I've only been to Bristol twice and IJA winterfest once. Both conventions are very informal convention: no workshops, or formal shows - mainly just a place to juggle, some vendors, and some spontaneous workshops. I much preferred Bristol although the IJA was great because it attracted higher level jugglers and was in Las Vegas so I got to see some great shows. But I have the best memories of Bristol: 9 days of camping and juggling. I love to juggle as much as possible and although there is a great social scene there for those he like that, I just had some great juggling and lots of fun. I'm often among the last jugglers at night and the first up in the morning. I rarely take breaks and hardly eat during the day (and I'm not normally one to miss a meal) because I love juggling so much.

10. Who inspires you during your juggling-career?

There are just too many things to consider - I read as much as I can about juggling (rec.juggling, juggling websites, lots of juggling magazines including back issues, books, etc.) and I watch a lot of juggling videos (I have about 70 or so) and all of that gives me great inspiration.

11. What does your family/friends say about the fact you juggle?

My wife doesn't really get it and thinks I juggle too much. My kids are so young that they probably assume that all dads juggle. My parents and siblings probably enjoy telling their friends that I'm a juggler but they don't get it either. Most of my friends are jugglers so they are all very supportive! My non-juggling friends often become jugglers from my influence and the others don't get it.

12. What kind of juggling props do you use?

I juggle mostly balls and clubs but dabble in rings, diabolo, and yo-yo. There was a period that I worked mostly with clubs but now the logistics of low ceilings and the convenience of balls have me working mostly with balls for the past few years.

13. What trick do you find the greatest?

Too vague of a question.

14. How long do you practice (on average) ?

Well, there was a period in 1993 when I was practicing 4-8 hours/day and then street performing a few hours most evenings. For most of the late 90s I probably had 1 serious juggling practice/week (Jerusalem Juggling Club) but definitely picked balls up every day for lots of informal juggling practice. Since I'm married and live far-ish from most juggling clubs I mostly have informal juggling practice (2-10 minutes at a time) in the kitchen (lowish ceiling) and make it to juggling club about once/month. Only in the past month have I been making it a bit more often to the Tel Aviv/Yafo juggling club which has turned out to be conveniently close to my house and late enough that it's after my kids are asleep. I occasionally juggle when I take my kids to the park, but I'm often busy with them and don't accomplish a huge amount of juggling.

15. Do you always juggle alone, or also in groups ?

I'm happy to juggle alone. I'm not so into passing and it's not so important to me to be surrounded by jugglers although I do like showing off for people who can appreciate real juggling.

16. What do you find the most difficult trick you can do?

Dunno.

17. What are your aims concerning juggling?

I'd love to one day compete in the IJA competitions. I planned a routine on paper years ago and I can do many of the tricks most of the time but it would need a lot of polish. And I'm not even close to doing the finale trick I want to do. I want to be remembered for doing something original.

I've got a lot of goals not having to do with juggling skills. I'd like to contribute as much as possible to the juggling world. I'm actively involved in many juggling websites and I'd love to finish the 5 ball juggling book I've started but that's moving pretty slowly. I enjoy sharing my knowledge and opinions about juggling on r.j and other places.

18. What's the greatest thing you've ever done, concerning juggling?

Creating the online video database which led to the IJDb was pretty important. I can't think of a juggling skill that's been so great.

19. Who do you think goes to break the next world record, 13 balls? That will be about a long time?

Peter Bone is the only one I know who really is shooting for that record (I don't know anything about Ben Beever). I think Peter will get it, possibly in 2004.

20. Who do you think is 'the best upcoming juggler'?

That's a hard question. When does someone pass up being qualified as upcoming? What is best - numbers or creativity or something else? I can't answer the question.

21. What's a site you think quite a low number of people know this site, but is a fantastic site?

I can't think of any. Luke Burrage mentioned once that some there is a lot of cutting edge stuff coming out of Japan and I've seen a lot of astounding videos on some Japanese sites...

22. Do you juggle on music? If yes, what music ?

I can practice with or without music. If I juggle to music I like music that I like all the time; I don't have music specifically for juggling to. For performing, I use the University of Southern California (my alma mater) marching band.

23. Do you doing other things concerning circus?

Not really. I can do basic skills with lots of things but none really interest me like juggling.

24. What do you want to say to all starting jugglers?

Have fun with it - that's the most important thing.

25. Do you want to say something else to jugglers?

Nah.

Thank you very much!

My pleasure.


Interview with Scott Seltzer / Juggling Page for Scott Seltzer / scott@juggler.net