Page 2 Fall 1988
artistic director of the Pickle Family Circus (and a woman) I deal
with women's issues daily (sometimes hourly). Our show has featured
talented women jugglers, clowns, acrobats and aerialists since its
inception 14 years ago. I saw many talented women at the convention
in Denver also, and yet found it disquieting that the numbers,
juniors and individual nationals were all-male.
isn't working. I saw how the young boys have their older juggling
heroes and felt that young girls also need to know who their
heroines are. After Olga Korbet electrified the crowds, a whole
nation of little girls took up gymnastics. The juggling talent is
more women don't compete is a complex issue. It goes beyond,
"Oh well, I guess they just aren't interested." When a man
competes in an all-male setting, he only represents himself. When a
woman competes in an all-male setting .she must inevitably represent
"Women." Quite a bit of added stress!
to compete" is a skill which can be learned. The
how about the nature of juggling itself? Is juggling like
gymnastics, figure skating, tennis and classical ballet where women
and men each have a place to excel and are never compared with one
another? If it is, then we really need to have a men's and a women's
competition. Or is juggling like playing a musical instrument (the
Tchaikovsky competition is open to men and women) and totally equal
in all respects?? In that case, we can choose to keep things as they
are, but talk more openly about how we think and feel.
is juggling somewhere in between? Should only some championships
(numbers and joggling) feature separate competitions?
Or are women against the idea of competition on principle? Many
possibilities exist and we need to communicate on them.
should also carefully examine how we teach. Do we inadvertently
teach boys and girls differently? And are we aware of messages in
even our most innocent and clever intentions? Tearing apart women
dummies on stage and using them as prop holders sends out a message
that it's OK to use women as objects and treat them violently.
am thinking about all the little girls out there. I want them to
know that becoming a juggler can be a joyous and wonderful
art/sport/pastime or occupation, that it has rewards and that there
is dignity in being a woman juggler. They can derive strength from
feeling a connection to women jugglers past and present.
to the many members I spoke with concerning this. Your openness and
input are greatly appreciated.
time to change the IJA competition system. Minor adjustments and fine
tuning won't suffice. A major revision is in order by the
new system should be modeled on several European circus competitions
where acts are measured against the highest standards of skill and
artistry rather than against each other. Competitors are awarded gold,
silver or bronze medals without reference to a numerical rank order. Any
number of medals for any of the three levels could be awarded at any IJA
should be screened by a preliminary panel of knowledgeable, qualified
judges. These judges either approve the act for competition, or reject
it. All acts approved for the finals should be capable of medal
performance. Those rejected should be coached on how to improve their
final round judges look at the artistry and skill of each act. Singles,
teams, juniors and women can all perform at the same time since they are
not competing against each other. The judges convene after each
presentation and select by majority whether an act deserves a medal, and
of course, represents the highest levels of skill. and artistry,
innovation, flawless performance and unique approach. Silver goes for
extremely high standards of skill and artistry, but with room for
improvement in places. Bronze achieves high standards of skill and
artistry, but is flawed by excessive drops,
problems or lack of extreme difficulty, artistry or innovation.
will be no numerical scores kept, and there will be no ranking of medal
winners. Winners are simply, "a gold medal winner" and not
"the 19XX IJA team champion." Numbers competitions will be
held in a separate venue more befitting the athletic nature of the
proposal is a draft for discussion. But the level of frustration that
the audience expressed at this year's competition is a clear mandate to
change. There are minor risks inherent in these changes, but nothing
like the risk involved in resisting change.
note: The IJA is sincerely interested in restructuring its championships
along the lines of Finnigan's proposal. It encourages
comments from members. Please write or call: Craig Barnes, championships
want to compliment Tricia Allen, her
the mundane activities of farm life get dull, I can look back and
remember the Denver IJA convention.
Montandon - Bixby