Juggler's World: Vol. 39, No. 2


Reflection of European Juggling

Although the European tradition of juggling and the related arts goes back further than the entire history of the United States, it has only been in the last 10 years that there has been any move to organize European jugglers.

Reasons include the diversity of languages and cultures and the fact that juggling in Europe is closely and fittingly associated with the circus arts, rather than with magic as in America, and jugglers there have perhaps always had the spirit of community the founders of the IJA sought.

But a primary reason is the European reluctance to put formal structure on any art. The vast majority of them seem to share with many American jugglers the view that juggling, by its very nature, should "just happen."

Nevertheless, the growing popularity of juggling in Europe has brought more jugglers together, resulting in local and European-wide conventions. this growing community of interest - together with an understandable reluctance to join anything American or pay the hefty tab of overseas postage on Juggler's World - has begged for a publication that could serve as a focal point in Europe.

Thus, just as Roger Montandon began his Juggler's Bulletin to find out what jugglers were up to and to spread the word, a couple in Wiesbaden, West Germany, Paul Keast of England and Gabi Hartmann of Germany, both 31, began publishing Kaskade in September 1984.

Paul and Gabi were members of the group "Gravity - So What?" which organized the 1984 European convention in Frankfurt. "We began to realize that this information that we as organizers were privileged to be receiving could be of interest and use to all other European jugglers," Keast said.

They saw the correspondence as the missing link in the "jugglers' grapevine" which, although efficient in getting hundreds of jugglers together once a year, wasn't very efficient in transmitting other news items.

In spite of the organizational work involved in putting on the convention, they managed to have a pilot issue ready in time for the official opening in Frankfurt. There had been no predecessor in Europe, only circus and magic related publications. "The real inspiration came from Jugglers World," said Keast.

"It had become a popular activity in Europe to moan about the IJA, and often criticism took the form of attacking JW for its American bias. Of course, a further problem was the language barrier. As an exiled Englishman, I was one of the few people who could really understand all of JW in Germany. So initially the aim was to produce a magazine along the same lines as JW, but with a definite European bias and with editions in several languages."

The problem of a multilingual audience proved demanding. Keast and Hartmann are "reasonably fluent" in English and German, making translation into those major languages manageable. But the third major European language, French, proved to be a stumbling block.

They launched an appeal for French juggling translators, but the vagaries of the European postal system delayed full translation of issue number 4, which they had hoped to launch in French at the convention in Brussels. "Having missed the opportunity in a French-speaking country, the idea of a French Kaskade was shelved indefinitely," Keast said.

The financial problems of publishing any magazine are severe. For Keast, the difficulties doubled with each language. "Producing a 20-page magazine in two languages is just as expensive as producing a 40-page mag in one language. In order to justify a third edition, the print-run would have had to be nearly as large as for the other two - but the demand from French-speaking jugglers simply wasn't there in sufficient numbers. The bastions of European juggling happen to be Britain and West Germany, (if you don't count the Danes, who generally speak amazingly good English anyway), with France and Belgium lagging some way behind."

He continued, "Of course, it's a vicious circle. If Kaskade doesn't appear in French, the (largely monolingual) French-speakers won't buy it. And if they can't take part in the network of communication provided by Kaskade, then the numbers involved will remain small. And so on, and so forth."

But the difficulty of putting out separate-language editions has been rewarding to them. Keast simply enjoys translating (which augments his professional juggling in the group, "Die Kapriolen") and there is the kick of drawing people together with a common language: juggling.

Interestingly, Keast's fascination with languages has brought him to the conclusion that English is the best language for communicating in juggle-ese. "Monolingual English speakers may like to know that they are lucky enough to be masters of the best language for talking about juggling tricks. The beauty of English is that any noun can be used as a verb, and vice-versa."

"Take the 'throw', for instance, or 'spin', or any of these everyday juggling words. If you 'throw hard,' its a 'hard throw,' if you 'spin too much,' then there's 'too much spin' on the club. Beautifully simple, isn't it? And you can invent all sorts of words to suit your particular situation: nobody knew what 'overthrows' were until someone tried to teach them a reverse cascade - but then it became perfectly obvious what the newly created word must mean! And names like 'onesy-twosy' (three objects thrown in columns!) just aren't possible in other European languages."

Strictly from a business standpoint, Kaskade has been a success. Keast and Hartmann have done what neither the Bulletin nor the early Newsletters could be: self-supporting. After the first issue, Kaskade has paid for its publication costs through sales, subscriptions, advertising, and even some contributions. The steady growth in income has resulted in a growing improvement in appearance.

Publishing Kaskade single-handedly takes them away from their training schedule for weeks at a time during deadline time. Contributions of articles, as all editors have found out, are hard to come by. They find their own lack of publishing background a problem, but enjoy the responsibility of wearing all the hats required to design, layout, type, finance, write, and distribute Kaskade.

They have come to juggling and to publishing as many do: converts with fanaticism. Hartmann, whose background is in social work, brought the juggling bug home from a drama workshop and infected Keast who, like Dave Finnigan, gave up a possible doctorate for a life of juggling.

Kaskade is a rewarding read. It combines the one-to-one informality of early Newsletters - the verve and vibrancy of adolescent enthusiasm - with the issues-oriented style of Juggler's World.

Most enjoyable for the North American reader is the picture it portrays of jugglers from another world: a bit wacky, with a just slightly different perspective on everything, like a Twilight Zone episode in which the furniture is all the same, but suspended from the walls. And off the wall it is - a picture of Danes juggling in the snow in briefs and bras, an ad for full color 8x10 (actually 178mm x 127mm) glossy photographs of a naked male juggler, other ads entirely in German, including Brian Dube claiming "Prospekt anfordern!" and each ad offering items in a polyglot of Deutschmarks, French francs, Swiss francs, Belgian francs, pesetas and pounds.

Kaskade is peopled with names like Olly, Oli, Uli, Uluf, and Bo; Gerda, Guillermo, Annick, and Knut. There are juggling troupes like "Klapps Kalli Keulen Kompanie" and "Jonglorermod Tyngdekraten." There are notices of conventions in places most of us see only in travel posters: Castellar, Spain; Bern, Switzerland; Cardiff, Wales; Edinburgh, Scotland; Lyon, France; Stallarholmen, Sweden; Jerusalem, Copenhagen, Cologne, London, Amsterdam.

Kaskade, at 15 Deutschmarks for a three-issue year, is a cheap and exciting travelogue to juggling across the pond.


The European Juggling Magazine

A must for any juggler who intends to visit Europe. Savor the colorful juggling scene in Europe by subscribing to this brand new magazine. There are stories on groups, performances, reviews of books and shows, a workshop section and more! For a year's subscription delivered by air mail, please send a $10 bill to:

Gabi Hartmann & Paul Keast
Annastr. 7
D-6200 Wiesbaden
W. Germany

If you'd rather have the German edition, just let us know!

Kaskade / Index, Vol. 39, No. 2 / jis@juggling.org
© 1996 Juggling Information Service. All Rights Reserved.