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A Short Introduction To Contact Juggling
Mesmerizing And Awe Inspiring, Performed With The Appearance Of Effortless Grace
I am the self proclaimed most uncoordinated person alive, so I have a deep appreciation for people who can use their bodies to do beautiful things such as Contact Juggling.
Contact juggling involves the flawless manipulation of one or more balls made of acrylic (usually) that are in contact with the body as opposed to being tossed in the air as you might expect for anything described as "juggling".
I started contact juggling when I was newly on maternity leave about a year ago. I needed something to focus on to keep me sane during a huge transition in my life.
I'm not particularly proficient, but I can do a few moves which I learned (initially) using one of my daughters toy balls and Youtube. To be honest I really find the repetitive practice to be extremely relaxing. It's a great activity for those tiny pockets of "me time" that I find for myself at random intervals throughout the day. I've also greatly improved the dexterity in my left (non dominant) hand by forcing myself to practice equally on both sides.
Below I have chosen a few key youtube video clips displaying performances and tutorials. I have also included links to resources for further reading.
Had You Heard Of Contact Juggling Prior To Visiting This Page?
Baoding Balls - Palm Rolling -The Grand Daddy Of Modern Contact Juggling
Contact juggling didn't just spring up in the 20th century. Aspects of what is known as contact juggling today have been manifesting in the performing arts for hundreds of years. The short video clip below displays the roots of contact juggling with baoding balls in China.
Contact Juggling, Labyrinth (Michael Moschen)
Contact juggling was highlighted in the 1986 film Labyrinth when, on a couple of occasions David Bowie's character, Jareth rolls a crystal ball around his hands with effortless grace while delivering a bit of dialogue.
This is the performance where many people who were born in the 80's and 90's will instantly recognize contact juggling, except now they will have a name for what they're seeing.
The thing that a lot of people don't realize is that David Bowie is just standing there trying not to look awkward while Michael Moschen's arms are doing all of the performing around his body. Michael couldn't actually see what he was doing so this is all the more impressive when you consider the fact that the stunt was being performed blind and at a contorted angle!
Have a look at the video below to refresh your memory and gain some insider perspective on how the stunt was performed with another man's arms.
Purchase Labyrinth Through Amazon
Were you hit with a tiny twinge of nostalgia just there? :)
This is one of those rare occasions where the DVD extras are absolutely brilliant for a fan of the film. They just add so many new facets of awe and appreciation!
Contact Juggling, Michael Moschen
The video below showcases a short routine by the same juggler as above featuring more balls and a more complex performance. It is very captivating to watch.
Michael Moschen is primarily responsible for bringing this beautiful art form to the main stream with his routine entitled "light" which he first performed in 1985.
Contact Juggling, Kelvin Kalvus
This is a longer video with a full routine by Kelvin Kalvus. It is my favorite contact juggling clip on YouTube. You can see clearly how the performance has evolved to combine even more moves into a single routine with a bit of magician's flair.
Free Contact Juggling Video Tutorials
Besides being a great resource for contact juggling performance videos YouTube is also a wonderful resource for contact juggling tutorials. I've even picked up a few tricks myself watching them, though I must admit I am still quite far from proficient. As with anything else, practice is key!
Contact Juggling By James Ernest
This is a book by the man who coined the term "Contact Juggling".
It is extremely well written and the illustrations inside are really helpful.
I am an absolute novice but I've found my copy of this book to be an extremely valuable resource in addition to whatever I can dig up on youtube.
Buy Your Own Balls For Contact Juggling
There are various sizes of crystal acrylic balls available for contact juggling.
I have a 65mm one and it's just beautiful to manipulate. Having said that, larger balls are definitely easier to handle, so if I was going to purchase another one I would probably size up.