Page 22                                            Spring 1995



Stunning Starts and Fancy Finishes for Club Jugglers by Doug Dougal. Published by Circustuff in 1994. ISBN 0 9520300 6 3. 72 pages, soft cover. Available in Europe from the publisher for 6 pounds 50, in North America from Infinite Illusions and in Australasia from More Balls Than Most in New Zealand.


The back cover of this book entices people with the words, "OK, so you can juggle

three clubs. But what next?"


It answers the question by saying that the reader could spend years learning complex tricks, or buy the book and in "a deceptively short time" impress friends with the simple flourishes, thumb rolls, kickups and other tricks explained in its pages. You still have to learn them, of course, but it's true that the tricks in "Stunning Starts and Fancy Finishes" carry a high rate of applause per practice hour.

This book includes several dozen "cutesy" club moves that you can use at the beginning, middle or end of a routine. Veteran jugglers will be familiar with the majority of the moves described, but there are probably at least a few new ideas for everyone--check out the hilarious "Long John Silver" finish at the end!


For newcomers, it's a broad and valuable encyclopedia of largely tried-and-true moves to help build a performance repertoire, including multiplexes, kickups, flourishes, scissors catches and a thorough explanation of the pirouette.


The tone throughout is folksy and light­hearted, demonstrating that author Doug Dougal is definitely in it for the fun. For example, in describing the "Crown of Thorns," he writes, "Not as painful as the name implies. This is due mainly to the complete absence of thorns required to do it. In fact, 'hat of clubs' would be a more apt name. Less dramatic, though, so Crown of Thorns it is."


With 95 illustrations and sparse text, the lay­out is clear and inviting. The cartoony pen-and­ink juggling character complements the light­hearted tone of the text. The illustrations are clear and instructional, however, whether drawn in full body form, or as close-ups of the hand and club to help the reader learn the intricacies of thumb rolls and flourishes.


The Diabolo Book. By Todd Strong. Published in the US 1994 by Brian Dube. 90 pages, soft cover. ISBN 0-917643-10-0. $14.95 plus s &: h.


Todd Strong's "The Diabolo Book" should serve as a model for everyone interested in writing a juggling book. The author combines a large helping of instructional material with a rich portion of prop history, and leavens the mix with just a tiny bit of psychology and philosophy.


It's overwhelmingly just the facts - the facts of how to learn diabolo manipulation from ground zero to complex tricks, and the fascinating facts of its fairly well documented history..


Strong's writing style is clear and to the point, splashed with enough appropriate humor and author's personal comments to give the book personality. Good writing rises or falls on the artwork that supports it, and this book stands tall because of its attractive line drawings, photos of contemporary artists doing diabolo, reproductions of turn­of-the-century diabolo post cards and four­color soft cover. The clean layout and ample illustrations make it fun to keep turning through its 90 pages.


The heart of the book, as the author states, is the "tricks" section. He presents about 45 tricks in the order that most people learn them, beginning with throws and catches and advancing all the way to two diabolos. Dozens of simple, realistic pen and ink drawings of the author performing the trick, or closeups of the stick and string arrangement, clarify the associated text.


A subsequent short section describes passing, steals and pass-alongs with a partner.


However, the thing that really sets this instruction book apart from others is Strong's extensive essay on the history of the diabolo. The author takes appropriate credit for helping popularize the diabolo with this generation of jugglers, but from the beginning of his involvement with the diabolo in 1980 it has been for him a scholarly pursuit as well as a physical one. The book originally began as Strong's master's thesis, and he lists more than a dozen libraries at which he conducted research during the course of its writing. His teaching credits include appointments at the Die Etage school in Berlin and at the Centre National des Arts due Cirque in France. The weight of this academic research and Strong's years of experience as a teacher give the book an authority not found in most juggling books.


Though no skill or prop can be traced to an absolute beginning, Strong makes a good case for the origin of the diabolo in ancient China. His research uncovered interesting stories of its appearance in Europe in about 1790, brought back from the Orient by statesmen and traders. He digresses at that point into a discussion of the Chinese and Greek etymol­ogy of the word "diabolo" that should estab­lish once and for all how the name came to be.


The history of the prop continues through its use as a rich persons toy in the early 1800s, then as a national passion in France in the early 1900s, complete with local clubs, tournaments and a team lawn game similar to tennis.


The diabolo's third Western renaissance has been spurred in the past decade by jugglers adding it to the inventory of their manipulative skills. The appearance of Strong's comprehensive and attractive book puts the art on a high pedestal this time around!


Cigar Box of Tricks. By Shaun Clark. Published 1994 by Circustuff, 83 Vist Rd.; Pitcoune; Glenrothes; Fife UK. ISBN 0-9520300-3-9. (Available in the US from Brian Dube.)


There are precious few resources for learning cigar box tricks, and Shaun Clark has done a good job of compiling a valuable encyclopedia for aficionados of this particular manipulative skill.


The 135-page book includes 66 differently named tricks with three boxes, and about 10 with four boxes - plenty enough to build a highly respectable repertoire. He wastes no words on introductory material. Instead, a sin­gle page tells the reader to find a set of good boxes and get to work! The rest of the book is tricks, tricks, tricks. It begins with simple moves and advances logically through sec­tions on stacking, vertical tricks, contacts, combinations, cross section, starts and fin­ishes, body moves, flourishes and pirouettes to "The Hard Stuff."                .


Most of each page is covered with illustrations of the tricks. They are plain and simple, but clearly show the flight direction of boxes and movement of hands. The skeletal fingers are ghoulish, but Clark reasonably explains that they show how the boxes are held between finger joints. Following the explanation of most tricks the author lists suggested - but non-illustrated - variations of them.


The writing is clear and concise most of the time, but gets too "cutesy" occasionally ("Moral is - if you stumble or fumble, don't grumble, be humble - mega groan!"). That, however, is a minor point that doesn't affect the overall value of the work. It's an excellent resource for those interested in this highly visual, and physically demanding, art form.

"No fair, Trudy - the third one's a baboon!"

"No fair, Trudy - the third one's a baboon!"

"This is the last time Madame Jacuzzi will offer to read a juggler's crystal ball."

"This is the last time Madame Jacuzzi will offer to read a juggler's crystal ball."

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