Page 21                                             January 1982

 Got an urge to perform?  Two who did tell how to start


By Carter Andrews, Nashville, TN


"Right this way, folks, the show is about to begin... Ladies and Gentlemen".  You can't afford to miss this one... Just what you wanted to see... A genuine, destitute street performer, working under intolerable conditions for demeaning wages... and I'm passing the savings on to you!"


The street performer begins to hawk his wares, catching his curious crowd of onlookers. He travels around the country, making his livelihood on the streets with his hat, hands and heart. Yet, strangely, most of today's talented jugglers have missed this experience of capturing an audience and coaxing coins into a hat.


Most jugglers avoid the street for one of two reasons. They either feel that they are not good enough technicians to perform in the street, or they feel that they have no natural performing ability.


No juggler who can juggle three balls should allow these feelings to keep him off the street. A juggler need not master difficult juggling tricks in order to entertain his audience. For example, audiences love the infamous "eating the apple." Yet, anyone who can juggle two balls in one hand can do that trick. There are many other examples of simple, yet entertaining tricks. At one point during his street routine, Bob Nelson of San Francisco throws six clubs to the audience and explains that he is going to catch all six clubs at once and go immediately into a six-club juggle. The laughter that erupts when he is pummeled with six clubs should convince anyone that being an Ignatov is not a prerequisite to performing.


Despite having the minimal technical expertise necessary to perform, many jugglers stay off the streets, convinced that they have no natural performing ability. Whenever they juggle five balls, some

joker inevitable asks, "Can you do six?" Their resignation is complete. They have produced a total lead balloon every time they have sat down to write a routine.


Even the most introverted juggler can translate his perspiration and practice into an act. First, he must remember the approach he took to developing his juggling skills. If he is like most jugglers, he went to an IJA convention, got his mind blown, and retreated to the sanctity of his room to try to reproduce what he saw. The same methodology works admirably for performing.


In short, the easiest way to learn to perform is to study street performers and absorb their entertainment technique. This involves understanding their pace, their props, their costuming, their selection of venue, their selection of material, their timing, and a host of other intangibles. Even though its a time consuming process, this study will dramatically shorten the painful experience of establishing your own street-tested routine.


The street is a magnificent teacher for performing jugglers. Your audience will give you instant feedback on every idea and innovation, judging your routine either with its feet or with its folding money. If your routine can't hold their attention, your crowd will walk. But if the audience liked your show, they will definitely let your hat know. In addition, the street offers countless audiences with which to perfect your routine. With perfect strangers on the street. you won't embarrass your friends with your bumbling. Instead, you will find it easy to relax and work your show into shape.


By Dick Lorditch Johnstown , PA


Our IJA application requires that we help other jugglers, but that is a rather restricting stipulation if jugs are the only ones we help. If everyone who can do a couple of tricks would do one volunteer appearance per month at your local hospital, prison, home for the aged or anyone of the locations for the more unfortunate groups in the area, there would be a lot more interest in juggling and many more people made happy.


The standard argument is that "I'm not good enough." But, a sick child or senior citizen receiving no visitors doesn't care if you drop your props.


They'll still enjoy the performance. Remember that the road to hell is paved with good intentions, so just thinking about it isn't enough. Any of dozens of local organizations will be glad to accept your offer to do a show. You'll find also that you're having more fun than the audience, while building confidence in your own abilities, making new friends, and developing a more outgoing personality.


Structure your show with as much humor as possible. As an example, when I do a show at a hospital, I always ask how many people in the audience would like to be a juggler. Someone always raises a hand, to which I reply that I didn't really want to be a juggler myself, but couldn't pass the intelligence test to be a doctor. I then ask them all to take the doctor's intelligence test and raise their right hand shoulder high while making a circle with the thumb and forefinger. Then, place the circled fingers on the chin, (while putting mine on my cheek). Most will imitate me, and not catch on until I repeat, "On your chin!" Then I explain that most of them don't seem smart enough to be doctors either, but that they can still be jugglers!

Woodcut by Cecile Buller:  "The Juggler".

Woodcut by Cecile Buller:  "The Juggler".

<--- Previous Page

Return to Main Index

Next Page --->