Juggling Creatively

If I see another person in the competitions doing boring runs of 3 club backcrosses, or even worse, Mills Mess, I think I will totally lose respect for a majority of the performers. Granted I do understand that the competitions are being judged 60% for techincal and 40% for performance, I don't think that justifies these tricks that 1. aren't that difficult and 2. don't push the limits of juggling creatively. I find many of these tricks to really show off the lack of individuality of the performer.

For example, many routines are composed mainly of tricks that are taught in "The Complete Juggler." Although a good book with some difficult tricks, I think that the point of the competitions is to showcase something different. I don't want to see a performance that 1. I've virtually seen many times before and 2. I can essentially read in the comfort of my home.

It seems to happen too often that among the small handful of competitors, there are always a few that I can't remember or I confuse because they routines are so generic (especially in the Juniors).

I think that many of the competitors have excellent skills and a nice, safe, commercial act, but that is not what I want to see in the competitions. I want to see people pushing limits. I want to see something I've never seen before. I want tricks that take my breath away and inspire me. I want routines that make me feel something.

Performers should be able to add a little bit of their own ideas to the standards. This on a basic level means putting together nice combinations on the standard tricks. It also means doing some unique variations. But relatively little has been done and the possibilities of the juggling art are endless.

There are some exceptions to juggling standard tricks. A nice display of numbers juggling can be appropriate for some routines. But I totally disagree with the compulsory 5 club and 7 ball flashes or cascades that many people include in their routines. A simple thing that can be done to distinguish oneself is to have a fancy start and/or finish. I also have no problem with certain major tricks like 5 club backcrosses; although it's been seen before it's so technically difficult that it's worthy of inclusion.

A nice creative routine from the 1996 Championships is Scott Sorenson. Although he used a standard prop, he took it to a new level and must be commended.

He set himself apart by juggling only rings, and avoiding balls and clubs. He took a novel approach by not including the usual pulldowns and breakdowns that are often the mainstay of a ring routine. And he didn't avoid 3 rings like most would; as a matter of fact, he did some unusual effects with 3 rings. Topped off with original costuming and unique music for a juggling act, Scott showed us that he really thought things out. (As a further kudos to Scott, he only a year before showed one of the stalest routines I'd seen in the Seniors for a while with mostly unoriginal tricks with clubs and rings. But he showed beautiful growth in skills and presentation in 1996.)

Other worthy examples include Eric Wenoker with a lovely ball routine in 1993 and Jay Gilligan who has original routines every year, particularly his 1996 routine.

Generic tricks not to do in a juggling competition:

All of these are nice tricks, but as they are I don't think that they are appropriate for the competitions. They can all be varied to make something new and interesting. Jugglers should take risks, especially in the competitions.

Looking beyond the vests and over-used music, I think the biggest problem recently has been lack of creative tricks in the competitions.

Juggling Creatively / Juggling Page for Scott Seltzer / scott@juggler.net