Juan Tamariz juggling

This seven-minute video of Juan Tamariz juggling three balls is an interesting study in how to juggle three balls while being funny. The words are, of course, in Spanish. I know there are great comedy lines in there! If only I knew what they were. Not that I would steal them anyway…

I’ve always known Tamariz as a master magician. I didn’t know he juggled. Yet here he is using relatively basic juggling tricks and sight gags to put on a very enjoyable and entertaining show. He comes across as a mad scientist. Note the

  • Timing
  • Anticipation
  • Energy
  • How the routine builds upon itself

Without further ado: Juan Tamariz!

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Teaching Mom how to juggle 3 balls, part 2

When we left off with Mom learning how to juggle 3 balls, we were still in the This-Is-Impossible Stage.

A week or two after the first five-minute session, we had our second attempt. We made clear progress. This time we practiced about 10 minutes.
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Thimblerig Circus interview at Penguin Magic

Chris Beason blogging at Penguin Magic posted a great 15-minute interview with Adam Lowe and Jason Munger, the jugglers of Atlanta-based Thimblerig Circus. Definitely worth a listen.

Some of the many interesting points that come out:

  1. Thimblerig is the name for the shell game.
  2. Drop lines can be comedic gold. “So much gold to be mined there, hilarious-wise.” Some acts work drops into their act.
  3. Work with a better juggler. In their case, they get in some sessions with Todd Key.
  4. Do shows!
  5. They could teach most people how to juggle 3 balls in a half hour, but many people get frustrated after 5 minutes.

On strength training: “When part of your routine is going through a toilet seat you can’t afford to build too much muscle mass. It’s just gonna get in the way of the other parts of your act.”

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Tongan jugglers

Tongan juggler, topless

Women, perhaps portraited on Malaspina's visit to Vavaʻu in 1793, performing different dances and games, including hiko (juggling). Source: Jennifer Shennam, via Wikimedia Commons.

I found this image while looking for juggling art to feature on this blog. It intrigued me, but I didn’t know anything about it.

Then I read a passage in Kit Summers’s Juggling With Finesse that shed some light on the woman juggling:

“When I was in Hawaii juggling with the wonderful juggler Barrett Felker I talked with a woman from Tonga, who told me that juggling was a game on her island. Only the women participated. They would see how many balls they could shower … One would bet another; she juggled until she missed then the other would take her turn. As many as 7 green tui tui nuts were showered. The women to whom I talked did not even know how to cascade 3, only how to shower them. The Los Angeles Times reported in 1978 that Nuku alofa on the island of Tonga may have more jugglers per square mile than any other place on earth.”
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‘Same genes, different dreams’: Checking in with Marty and Jake LaSalle

Marty and Jake LaSalle

The LaSalle Brothers: Identical twins Jake and Marty LaSalle (I assume left to right) Credit: Courtesy of Gillian Laub


Sarah Maslin Nir has a piece in Sunday’s New York Times about Marty and Jake LaSalle, checking in with them after they quit juggling. The 26-year-old identical twins performed an amazing juggling-acrobatics act for the Big Apple Circus, but now live on opposite coasts. Marty LaSalle still works for the circus in guest relations and business development, while Jake LaSalle is in medial school at the University of California.

They’re featured in the six-part PBS documentary “Circus,” airing this month.

“They had the same genes but different dreams, and that spelled the untimely end of one of the most celebrated young circus acts in recent memory,” she writes.
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Can animals juggle?

seal contact juggling

A seal contact juggling?

Not according to Juggling With Finesse: The Definitive Book of Juggling by Kit Summers (1987). Juggling is exclusive to humans, according to the book.

That’s not surprising because learning how to juggle 3 balls requires extensive use of the hands and “complex spatial perception and cognitive skills,” Summers writes.

Apparently that’s more than animals can handle. If you count humans as animals, then we haven’t seen animals other than humans perform traditional juggling.
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Are 3 balls enough? Jason Garfield: No way. Carl Lewis: Sure.

If you want to tackle juggling five balls, some people say it’s an important step to no longer being a hack juggler. And by “some people” I mean Jason Garfield.

Jason Garfield says, “Most hack jugglers juggle no more than 5 balls and 4 clubs. Most good jugglers perform the juggling of 7 balls, 7 rings and 5 clubs.”

Not everyone agrees jugglers need to juggle five balls to be taken seriously.
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On practicing juggling

When I ran cross country, our coach told us, Practice doesn’t make perfect; perfect practice makes perfect.

There was another quote, from Yoda, we often heard before our runs: Do or do not. There is no try.

The juggler Kit Summers put in some impressive practice sessions. In his book Juggling With Finesse he writes,

When I was in Hawaii with the remarkable juggler Barrett Felker we would practice in the wrestling gym at the college. Sometimes we would practice in the day, go home and have dinner, the back to the gym to practice some more. Please don’t tell them, but if the gym was locked we would climb in the window and then practice. Some nights we stayed until two in the morning.

He also gives some advice about being positive during practice sessions that I don’t understand. I’m a positive person in general, quite patient and tend to keep my emotions in check, but I could never handle drops in the way he suggests:

“When you drop while practicing (if you drop, that is!), do not say to yourself ‘Oh !@#$ I dropped’ but think of it more as ‘Oh good, I get to try again.’”

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Juggling 5 balls is really hard

I learned four balls relatively easily after juggling three balls for a few years. I juggled two in one hand. I juggled two in the other hand. Then I juggled two in each hand simultaneously. It was chaotic and messy, but pretty early on I could see how it was possible. It took a long time to get it under control, and it’s only recently that I’ve gotten comfortable enough with four balls that I would juggle 4 in a performance.

Five balls, on the other hand, requires a level of control and precision that I haven’t yet grasped. I practiced pretty intensely over the summer and at my best I was probably hitting about 40 tosses in a run on a consistent basis.
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Teaching Mom to juggle

I gave my mom her first juggling lesson this morning. We couldn’t have spent much more than five minutes, and I’d say we’re still squarely in the This-Is-Impossible stage. That is to say, we’re right on track.
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