Saturday, November 1, 2014

The Toy Factor

See also the previous articles: Interesting Tricks and Interesting Juggling Tricks

I missed (at least) one reason why tricks can be interesting.
I call this reason: The Toy Factor

Sometimes you see a performance and they introduce or remind you of a new concept or a new prop, and you just wish that you could play with it

This is very similar to child behavior with toys: Seeing other people play with something makes you want to play with it too. The feeling is located around jealousy or curiosity.

The Toy Factor might not be so common for a regular audience, but I don't know this for sure. It is of course mostly trained jugglers that see the thousands of new possibilities that arrive with a new thing, though perhaps non jugglers would have a similar reaction to something less complex but still new to them.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Interesting juggling tricks

The article "Interesting Tricks" did of course not exclusively apply to juggling. It applies to tricks of any kind.
Read the article linked above to catch up on my definitions of: Impressive, Visually appealing, Conceptually interesting, Novelty or Surprise, Recognition.

What makes juggling tricks special, what are its strengths?

In juggling there seem to be more possibilities than in for example acrobatics. Therefore there are a lot of opportunities to innovate and surprise your audience with novelty.
Also, a repeating pattern can be set in a matter of seconds. Even those who have never seen juggling before can be conditioned quickly, so you can break their expectations.

Juggling tricks are often easy enough to perform them in many different ways. Therefor we can even put other actions (thus recognition) in our tricks. For example eating apples, clawing the balls like a cat or kissing them like a stereotypical Frenchman, tricks which street performers commonly use. Of course the out of place recognition of these actions also surprises your audience.
It remains easy to dance or move in certain ways and juggling tricks can easily be used as metaphors.

With a large group of jugglers having seen thousands of tricks, it is possible to create tricks that are conceptually interesting simply for the sake of the trick. What can we do when we combine a ring and a club into one single prop, and create a club with a hole? These are the kind of questions that team RDL asked for example. Concepts like for example: Balances, bounces, rotations, siteswaps, pirouttes, isolations, prop combinations etc are explored to extreme depths by various jugglers creating all new sorts of ideas. With infinite possibilities juggling allows for easy and fun experimentation.

Juggling can be very aesthetic and visually appealing. It is often rhythmically pleasing, and the performer can easily choose and change what props, size and color he wants for his display. It is similar to dance in that it is about movement, but not necessarily with the body. Trick mastery allows for the search of the most aesthetic variation.

As long as props are out of our control there is a certain tension about if we get them back. With multiple props it is not hard to make tricks look very complex. Seeming to master this complex risky pattern is impressive. So impressive that audiences often have unrealistic memories about jugglers, exaggerating the number of balls they have seen.

Juggling has way more strengths than this, I am sure of it. You are welcome to list your favorite in the comments.

Monday, October 27, 2014

What is juggling

Juggling. We all do it, but what is it exactly?

A traditional definition might be: Always at least one object in the air. 
This is very descriptive for toss juggling. In a three ball cascade there is always at least one ball at flight. This definition suggests: more objects in the air also means 'better' juggling.

But we know that we call other actions juggling too. How about contact juggling, or diabolo?
Perhaps we should replace 'air' with 'out of full control'.
Always at least one object out of full control.
If you do a chest roll from one hand to the other, in between it might not be in the air but it is in a sense 'juggled'. A diabolo in the midst of a sun swing is still in the string, but in order to completely control it again we would first need to stop its current motion.
This definition suggests: The more that is out of control or the less control we have, the better the juggling

But how about putting an object on the floor. It is then out of our control, but not juggled, right? Or how about executing a throw or body roll very skillfully, we kind of are in control right? We might not be able to change its path midway, but we knew and planned that when we started the move, thus we still control it.

It has been suggested that perhaps juggling is about risk. If you manipulate an object in a 'risky' way, it becomes juggling. Object manipulation with an element of risk.
There has to be a chance the trick goes wrong. When I hold something in my hand, the risk that I drop it is very small, thus this is not really juggling. When I throw up a lot of balls and want to catch them, there is a big risk that I will not catch them all, therefor this is juggling.

This would describe a scale, where every object manipulation action is a form of juggling, though there are low risk ones (such as drinking water from a cup) and high risk ones (such as toss juggling 11 balls while spinning two rings on one leg and bouncing a ball on your forehead at the same times). Clearly the riskier ones are more like juggling.

But is the risk actually real? If a juggler performs something that is beyond its skill level, such as trying to juggle 11 balls when one can hardly keep 5 in the air, this does not look like juggling even though there is a huge risk that it will go wrong. Jugglers make things easy that were originally risky.

Maybe the true definition of juggling is something along the lines of: Succeeding in executing an originally risky object manipulation.
Managing something that used to be hard.

I am sure this definition is far from perfect. What does it include and what does it exclude? Comments are very welcome.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Training elements

As a performing juggler, your training time is most likely spend on 5 main activities:

Deciding what, how and when to do.

Practicing tricks, technique, routines.

Inventing tricks or figuring out how to do them.

Building routines or acts based on your material.

Showing your skills to others.

Recognizing these different activities might help you to spread your time and energy better, or focus on what you think is most important.

Inspired by Malte

Monday, October 20, 2014

Motivation coaching

As a learning juggler, the most crucial factor to improving is dedicating time.

time spend = skill gained

In order to make good use of all the available time and prioritize juggling over other activities, you need to be motivated.

motivation = time spend

motivation = skill gained.

More motivation = more skill gained.
Less motivation = less skill gained.

Dear teachers, trainers, coaches and fellow jugglers,
The single most important factor to learning juggling is motivation. The best thing you can do to help the people around you improve in juggling is to motivate them. Find out what drives them to want to make long hours. Challenge them, reward them, praise them, inspire them.

A good juggler is of course self motivated too, but with your help he or she can achieve greatness!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Interesting tricks

An object manipulation trick can be interesting for many reasons. This is an attempt to list some, so we can understand them better.

It looks like this trick is hard.

Visually appealing
You could hang this on the wall.

Conceptually interesting
It means something, even if that something is abstract.

Novelty or surprise
You had never seen or expected that before

You had seen or expected that

Why are these reasons interesting? They each deserve a whole post for themselves..

All these can make a trick interesting to watch. Pushing tricks further in one of these directions might improve them. Of course this theory can be applied to routines too.

Interesting to watch is not the same as interesting to do.

Perfect throws

Everybody talks about perfect throws.

A perfect throw is (in no particular order):

The longer the path in the correct direction with the strongest muscles, the more precise you can control the direction and the speed.

Allows for errors and variations
The further away the props are from each other, the less likely it is that they are going to collide. The larger your reach from your position, the more likely that you can make the catch.

Juggling is more pleasant to watch when it is pretty.

When it takes less power it can last longer.

The shorter the time needed between catch and the throw, the more time you have left for other things.

Don’t do the things you don’t need to do, relax where you can.

The quicker you learn this technique, the faster you can move on.

Don’t ruin your body or your props. Make correct use of tendons, joints and muscles.

Analyze your body and your throw with the points above, and you can find your perfect throw for each and every trick. Everyone focuses on different aspects, therefore there is no such thing as ‘the’ perfect throw.