Page 11                                             Fall 1992

More on the European scene...

  By Toby Philpott - European Correspondent, Somerset, England


I spent much of the European Convention meeting old friends and new.  Nobody, including me, is too clear what a European Director does! "Is your job really necessary?" We are growing so fast that I can only say that I am interested in all levels of activity in the juggling world. Teaching comes first, whether formally, in workshops and schools, or informally "by infection" amongst friends. This can lead to Sport, Meditation or Performance.


At the convention, the mixture of approaches was particularly evident. It was extremely exciting, especially for those of us who remembered a small hail six years ago with 12 jugglers!


Inevitably, Sunday morning was a slow start, but soon the juggling was back to a furious tempo. We called a complete halt for the Business Meeting, but people were anxious to juggle, so we resolved where the convention should be in 1984 (Frankfurt, Germany) and had reports on the earlier American conventions.


Not wanting to unnecessarily prolong the proceedings, I did not raise several points which I would like to cover now.


The European Conventions have remained very informal, and at least half the people who come are not members of the IJA. Many people do not read English, or expect to get to America, and so do not see membership as really relevant to them.


I wonder if we shouldn't create more incentive for people to join. Perhaps if we had reduced entrance fees for members, priority booking for housing, etc. I also think it would be better if the Business Meeting was not compulsory, but held away from the playing area so that only those who are interested need come. This year the meeting was run in English and French, but I am sure that many people still did not really understand all the issues.


Certainly, one of the issues raised (and told to me privately), was the "sports­like" atmosphere, and a query as to why it cost us money to attend. In fact, I thought it was very cheap indeed for the facilities provided, but I do take the point as I love the street level performers and travelers.


The possibility of a Spring Gathering was raised. Somewhere in the south of Europe, under a Big Top, with camping, and a festival mood. Is anyone interested?


As mentioned in the September issue, information on street performers' rights would be useful. Perhaps we could produce a simple European Newsletter to circulate this information.


I welcome all news and ideas. Meanwhile, we are all back in our home worlds. I'd like to thank L'Institut Francais de Jonglage for providing such a magnificent setting for this Convention, and look forward to next year with great excitement, as the team in Frankfurt seems to have made their plans with great care. Hope to see you there!


(Philpott filed the following report prior to the European Convention.)


On returning to England in mid­summer after several months in Spain, I went to the Glastonbury Fayre, an annual event which draws tens of thousands of people to some fields near Glastonbury Tor - a "mystical" power center. These days the power we think of is nuclear, and the Fayre is a major contributor to the campaign for nuclear disarmament in England.


This huge "city-without-walls" has always contained a few jugglers, and this year there was an ongoing workshop based around the "Original Mixture" bus from London. Here I met IJA members Doug Orton and Danny Avrutick. Butterfingers was selling equipment, and many people passed by, or stopped in for a lesson during the three day event.


On the theatre stage I caught Tim Bat's new act. Dressed as the Perfect Englishman (minus trousers, he ran through an assured routine which involved devil stick moves with his umbrella to music, apple-eating while juggling, excellent yo-yo work and his renowned egg, frying pan and flaming French bread routine. His encore of comic moves with bowler hat and umbrella was slick and neat, and the audience loved it all.


After a month teaching circus skills to children's holiday projects, I dropped into London to look at the street performers. While there, I saw a marvelous hand balancer in "Charlie" outfit, who also did the horizontal stack of bricks and juggled a tennis-racket, ball and football.


Wack and Zane perform there doing club passing, some stunts, and a great three-minute version of Hamlet with continuous three ball juggling and takeaways. This may owe some inspiration to the Karamazov Brothers' "Rosenkrantz and Guildenstern" dialogue, but is totally different in that Wack and Zane summarize the whole play and play all the parts.


I also saw Alex Dandridge, who has been juggling only one year, and already makes me envious of some of his moves. He has just begun performing, and has a refreshingly confident approach.


On English television John BalIanger has just made an advertisement for computers in which he is dressed as a businessman and juggles up to five balls as a metaphor for the complications of modem business, which can be solved by computer. A still photo was also used for a nationwide newspaper campaign.


"Anonymous Juggling Group" is the translated name of the association of Wiesbaden, Germany, jugglers. The group has agreed to host next year's European Convention, and we will tell you more about them and their plans in the February issue of JUGGLER'S WORLD.

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