Diabolo (Courtesy Charlie Willer)
Finesse Press, San Diego, Calif. $14.95.
Here's an idea book that covers everything from three balls to 13 rings. Written by a man who at one time could juggle seven clubs, Kit Summers lists a vast array of tricks for the intermediate to expert juggler to try.
The book was due to be published June 20, and "Juggler's World" reviewed it in manuscript form only. Copies of more than 100 photos and 100 illustrations provided with the manuscript indicated that the finished product will be fun to look as well as full of things to learn.
It's also an inspiration book. Summers gives a lot of ink to positive mental attitude as a necessary ingredient to successful juggling. Struck down in his performing prime in a vehicular accident, he suffered neurological damage and had to learn to juggle a second time. His limited success in doing so against great odds prompts him to cast juggling as a means of personal growth and development. That attitude permeates the book in passages such as, "Belief in limits creates limited people; don't put a limit on anything in your life. Set your goals high, and then exceed them."
In a sense, the entire book is autobiographical -- for better and worse. The tremendously positive psychological angle may inspire some readers. But experienced jugglers who have come to terms with their sweat may prefer to see that space devoted to more ideas on tricks.
Six of the ten chapters cover tricks with all common juggling props, while the other four are devoted to an introduction, beginning juggling, practice regimen and putting together an act.
Summers introduces the book as a volume to guide a non-juggler from that status to the limits of the skill. However, the tricks described will be of more interest to serious jugglers than amateurs. The section on rings includes no three ring tricks, five four ring tricks and seven five ring tricks. The first trick he describes with clubs is back crosses, which are not easy for novices.
The descriptions of tricks are short and may be incomplete for someone not familiar with juggling already. However, those looking to improve their acts may find many ideas listed here that they've overlooked. How about the Francis Brunn one-ball leg roll? Balance a ball on your foot with your leg straight out. Roll it up your leg, across your back to the shoulder, down the arm to the back of your hand. That should keep you busy for an afternoon!
Many of the descriptions of tricks are accompanied by cleanly drawn illustrations that will make interpretation of the text easier.
The most exciting part of the book will surely be the photos. Taken from Summers' extensive collection, they include shots of the author and other IJA notables such as Roger Dollarhide, Alan Howard, Susan Kirby and Ron Meyers. There are also more internationally known figures such as Francis Brunn, Barrett Felker, Sergei Ignatov, Eva Vida and Manuel Zuniga.
There's Dick Franco on a rola bola on a table bouncing balls for a street audience. Rolly Brandt does eight rings while spinning a hoop on his foot and balancing a pedestal on his head. Igor Rudenko executes a baffling pedestal balance using ten balls while standing on one ball balanced on another. The variety of photos reflect very well the scope of the tricks described in the text.
Summers includes brief descriptions of tricks done by many of these performers, but does not attempt to give a history of juggling or great detail of juggling acts. He does, however, go into detail about how to convert your physical skills to entertainment success. The final section is a how-to manual of putting together and marketing your act, including things as trivial as good grooming to advice as insightful as, "In a way you have to overpower the audience. Show enthusiasm in what you do. When you are on stage, try to be the master of everything that is going on."
Those are obviously the words of someone who's been there. And those who have done it as well as Summers are usually worth listening to!
Per Nielsen, Studsgardsgade 64, 2. DK 2100 Kobenhavn 0, Denmark. $6.
"Passing" presents a comic-book look at that great jugglers pastime, club passing. The 20 page 8"x6" pamphlet is heavily illustrated with cartoon figures doing everything from taking a shower together to feeding seals.
Sandwiched between one-liners and wild drawings is basic instruction on how to pass clubs, as well as intermediate level variations. Several multi-person patterns receive more traditional illustrations that are adequate for their purposes. Beginners will discover the wide variety of passes possible, as well as some patterns to try with friends.
Advanced club passers will find nothing new inside, but will get a kick out of the illustrations. Devils pass pitchforks and angels pass halos. Ducks deliver clubs air mail from one juggler to another. The book is printed throughout in black and red, so is more colorful than most instructional pieces.
It's a book written in keeping with the European juggling style -- fun and frolicsome rather than scholarly and serious. The authors obviously had fun putting it together, and readers will have fun looking it over.
Lerner Publications Co., Minneapolis, Minn. ISBN 0-8225-1146-0.
This book is part of Lerner Publications' Sports for Me series, 49 picture books designed to introduce young people to everything from square dancing to quarter-midget racing. Its 47 8"x11" pages tell in large pictures and brief text the personal story of how two youngsters, Nathan and Kari, learned to juggle from Rande Aronson and eventually put together their own show for the neighborhood.
In well-chosen words easily read by fourth graders, it gives a short overview of juggling history and instruction in the basics. The text is narrative, as if Nathan is telling the story.
For instance, "After Kari was able to exchange one ball smoothly, Rande asked me to demonstrate the two-ball exchange. I started with two balls, one cupped in each hand, and tossed the right ball upward. Then, just as it rounded the peak point and started to drop, I tossed up the left ball. My left hand was then free to catch the first ball coming down. I continued in this crossover pattern while Kari tried it."
As you might expect, "She practiced and practiced. Two days later, she was juggling! For the next few weeks, Kari and I had fun practicing together."
The youngsters get into the spirit of things by visiting Rande and seeing his act at a Renaissance festival that is exquisitely illustrated with fine photos by Bob and Diane Wolfe.
They go home, practice some more and learn clubs and passing while being introduced to cigar boxes and devil sticks. The kids practice all summer and decide to put on a show. The pages about the show introduce young readers to costuming and choreography, as well as showing them some good beginner tricks.
The IJA gets good plugs in the text and glossary; also in some photos of Rande wearing a Cleveland convention t-shirt.
There's probably no better book for entertaining youngsters and motivating them to try juggling. It's a great present and a valuable volume for childrens' library shelves.
40 Mansel Ave., Hamilton, New Zealand. $20. Computer program for Apple II-e.
For computer buffs, Bruce Love's "The Juggler" program offers the opportunity to create fantasy juggles and watch them executed on the screen. Beside the ability to invent and test juggles, the 5-1/4" disk could be helpful in communicating patterns to other people.
It comes with 11 three and four ball juggles resident in the program. Following the easily read menus, cascades and showers pop onto the screen and do their dance in slow motion (no graphically depicted hands or jugglers, just balls moving on a blank screen).
Those who enjoy diagramming juggles on paper will certainly benefit from this tool. But creation of custom juggles requires time and attention to the accompanying 12-page manual. It tells you how to set "states" to make your own patterns. States include hold time, horizontal and vertical velocity and position, and the vertical end. You can work with up to 15 balls, but defining the program naturally becomes more tedious as the number of balls increases. You can constantly test your creation to see what's working and what's not. The author admits that creation of new patterns is not easy, but many people enjoy that sort of challenge.
The "Juggling" disk is a first of its kind. It is limited by its compatibility with only the Apple II-e machine and the tediousness of creating new juggles. However, it opens a door to computer aided pattern design that will undoubtedly lead to juggling programs too fantastic to now imagine. To get a copy, send your $20 cash or money order to the author at the above address.