Juggler's World: Vol. 42, No. 4


by Bill Giduz

Dr. Bosco Covers It All in the 1990 Festival Video

To order, call Tom Bennett at 216/745-3552. $39.95

If you feel like you're missing out on a big part of juggling because you haven't been able to attend any IJA Annual Festivals yet, you can now do the next best thing.

The IJA/Maverick Media video of the 1990 festival in Los Angeles is out, and takes you minute by minute through the whole thing. You'll see what the Pauley Pavilion hardwood looked like covered with jugglers. You're there at workshops. You feel the midnight frenzy of Club Renegade. You're inside the Big Toss Up. You even get a look at the table of items for the auction.

For the first time this year, the festival video gives a complete look at the action, rather than concentrating exclusively on performances and championships as has been the case in the past.

Also for the first time, the video uses a narrator to explain the action. It's Dr. Bosco, the cigar-smoking puppet with the big schnozola who represents the alter ego of Boston-based performer Rob Salafia. As Dr. Bosco explains in his introduction to the video, "I was there, I saw it all." Indeed, Salafia and Dr. Bosco were in L.A., and performed in the Cascade of Stars show.

In visual appearances and narrations, Dr. Bosco carries the viewer in chronological order through the festival during this 100-minute video. Everything is covered, from insignificant bits like check-in to the triumphal moments like Kris Kremo's performance in the Cascade Show. And it's not just toss juggling. We get to see nice clips of the complex patterns of the jump ropers, yo-yo aficionados and frisbee tossers.

The championships are handled nicely. The complete act of only the winner of each event is shown, while all other entrants are covered in a few highlight seconds. There are also interviews with championships officials and the winners themselves to help explain the proceedings. Video clips of the medal ceremonies are skillfully used to help with the transition from one scene to the next. The complete acts of all Senior Individual and Team entrants is available in a separate video that is also available now from Maverick.

The nice part is that every performer in the stage events gets a mention, and every winner in all events is mentioned and shown. That includes the plethora of joggling races and numbers events.

But this video is not just an introduction to festival events, it also does a good job of introducing the viewer to some festival personalities. Tom Kidwell explains the origin of Club Renegade, and then we meet Ngaio Bealum on that stage doing his personable job of emceeing the show. Albert Lucas gives a serious interview about Team Exerball's task of trying to break the four-minute mile relay, and then celebrates wildly when the mark falls. Dave Finnigan explains in detail his philosophy of teaching people to juggle five balls. Championships director Laura Green appears gracious and charming in her explanation of the Showcase of Young Talent. And Michael Menes is brilliant in a seven-minute, uncut segment showing his quirky, unique three ball style during the three-ball workshop.

The last major event covered is the Cascade of Stars show on the final evening of the festival. There are clips from almost all the acts, and several minutes of Kris Kremo. Earlier in the video he is shown on the gym floor and interviewed about his career. There's even a beautiful, short clip of he and his father, Bela, from one of their perfectly simultaneous performances of yesteryear.

The 1990 festival video is a wonderful way to help your friends and family understand your passion for the art, or a great way to convince other of you juggling friends that they need to start making plans now to come to St. Louis in '91!

Beyond the Cascade

By George Gillson. Copyright 1990. Published by Cascade Books; PO Box 9008; Seattle, WA 98109. $10.

The subtitle of this manual is "Step-by-Step Guides to 88 Classic 3-Ball Juggling Tricks." While you might not recognize all the tricks described in its 103 pages as "classics," the material presented does seem to be an excellent guide to vastly expanding the average juggler's three-ball repertoire.

Gillson, an artist, writer and amateur juggler living in New York, collected the tricks he presents during a four-year period. He and juggler/publisher Larry Swanson then collaborated to put the collection into print.

The author seems genuinely thrilled with the mystery and joy of juggling. His enthusiasm for the subject comes through clearly in both his technical descriptions of how to do tricks and occasional jokes and poems sprinkled through the volume. One such piece of verse that seems appropriate to the book is: "Ball A looks like B / And Ball B looks like C / And Ball C looks a lot / like their brother; / So how do ya unravel / The paths that they travel / When you can't tell the / One from the other?"

Gillson tries to "unravel the paths that they travel" with simple drawings showing ball and hand positions as they change during the trick. The illustrations, along with accompanying written instructions, seem clear and comprehensible.

He doesn't waste much time on the basics. The cascade takes up four pages, and by page ten he's working on "Carry to the Opposite Elbow." Though Mill's Mess is not the final trick described, Gillson treats it as a sort of juggling Holy Grail. He writes that it is the ultimate juggling move, "a mind-boggling pattern of circling balls, crossing and uncrossing hands, and unexpected catches."

He breaks it down into several one and two ball practice moves, then puts it all together in an explanation that should help a lot of folks learn this puzzling pattern.

Gillson proceeds to elaborate on Mill's Mess, splitting it, turning it upside down and inside out, stretching it and clawing it. He even presents his own "Gillson Five-Count Variation."

There's a lot in this book for three ball jugglers who want to learn new tricks. Don't expect to find any tips on how to put them all together in a routine, however. Gillson just addresses the physical tricks themselves, not their incorporation into an entertaining act.

But the physical format of "Beyond the Cascade" doesn't match the quality of the material inside. As an instruction manual, it is wrongly bound - perfect bound rather than spiral bound. That means it won't lie flat and stay open to any particular page, making it impossible to work on a trick and look at the instructions at the same time.

And while the cover of the 5 x 8-inch paperback is two color, high class and professional, the quality of the type inside is crude and unprofessional. Though type quality doesn't change the substance of the words, it can affect the reader's impression of the material.

Physical faults aside, though, "Beyond the Cascade" is one of the best instruction manuals on the market, an exciting book that will give three ball jugglers many hours of challenge and a lot of new material.

Zen Of The Spheres

By Dave Finnigan. 100 copies, numbered and signed, published by Jugglebug; 7506J Olympic View Dr.; Edmonds, WA 98026. Call 206/774-2127. $5.

Juggling may be one person's meal ticket or another person's idle amusement. But for those to whom juggling is a meaningful voyage of self-discovery, Dave Finnigan's new monograph, "Zen of the Spheres," may be a guidebook.

Finnigan has applied his interest in Oriental philosophy to juggling, creating a short book (63 8-1/2"x11" pages) that is rich in human insight. The tale surrounds a young man who travels to Taiwan with a group of other novices to participate in a juggling workshop with Master Huang. Isolated from the outside world, The Master teaches them juggling, but more importantly, uses juggling to teach them about themselves.

The unbound book is well written, fast reading, and loaded with Zen philosophy. One of the many short chapters begins, "'Is juggling really a path to enlightenment?' I asked that evening."

Master Huang replies, "There is little temptation in juggling to become proficient for worldly gain, since even the best jugglers don't get paid that much. Jugglers don't get much recognition for their athletic skill. Because it is such a subjective art form, it is difficult to judge whether one person is actually better than another. Also jugglers are seen as foolish by many, which means their word carries little weight in circles of power and authority. So the usual motives for achievement - money, recognition, competition and power - are stripped away, leaving what? Nothing... or everything? It depends on your perspective."

The tale is not one of adventure and excitement, but of quiet revelation. Each student brings his or her own psychological baggage into the workshop, and the Master presents them with challenging situations from which they learn something more about how to find personal peace. The ending presents an affirmation that Zen enlightenment can be found anywhere and through any means. Finnigan has just chosen the art he knows best - juggling - as his vehicle for describing the path.

Finnigan has printed just 100 copies of the book through Jugglebug, and numbered and signed all of them.

491 Patterns for the Solo Juggler

By Martin Probert. Obtainable by sending bank draft for 16.15 Pounds Sterling (No dollars or other currency) to the author, 55 Higher Compton Rd., Hartley, Plymouth PL3 5JA, England. Airmail cost is 17.85 Sterling (Europe), 18.80 Sterling (N. America).

For those willing to spend a little time learning a new language of juggling notation, 491 Patterns contains a lot of valuable new material. The drawings of paths, levels and ball positions for each pattern, along with shorthand instructions below each, look overwhelmingly complex at first glance.

However, Probert's eight pages of instructions at the beginning of the book will help the patient and interested reader understand the notation. His "juggletoons," as he calls the drawings, contain all the information in one quick snapshot that you need to begin learning a new pattern. He even describes a way to animate the juggletoon and visualize the pattern in slow motion by moving paper dots along the pattern on the page.

Probert became intrigued with juggling ten years ago. He soon realized it would take a long time to expand his repertoire of tricks because he did not meet other jugglers very often. He developed his notation as a way of exploring possible patterns on his own, and a working system was in place by 1985. He was also developing a juggling troupe with his family, which still performs as Dr. Catch & Co.

The book includes patterns for all numbers from one to twelve balls. Foremost among those are 123 patterns for four balls and 134 patterns for five balls. It does not include body moves like behind the back, under the leg or chops. The patterns are all variations of moves which can be done with two hands in front of the body - cascades, fountains, half-showers, multiplex, etc.

The manual is extremely well produced. Its 8-1/2"x11-3/4" format is ring bound so it will open flat to any page for easy reference while practicing. Three column per page are divided neatly to allow six different patterns on each page. The book is sprinkled with clever juggling cartoon silhouettes drawn by the author's daughter, and new chapter pages contain quotes pertinent to the material about to be presented. The introductory explanations of the system are reprinted in French and German at the back of the book for readers of those languages, and a technical addendum gives more information on it.

It is not a book for the beginning juggler looking for some quick, easy new tricks. But for jugglers seriously interested in exploring new patterns and willing to spend some time learning the notation, 491 Patterns will be a valuable addition to the library.

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