(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘juggling

“The world cannot be governed without juggling”*…

Innovation in juggling? David Friedman investigates…

How many new ways can there possibly be of throwing a bunch of balls up in the air and catching them? I mean, people have been juggling for thousands of years. There’s even an ancient Egyptian tomb that includes this wall painting of what sure looks like juggling [illustration above].

So as a modern juggling performer, how do you keep your routine fresh? Is it all about the patter and the performance? Or is there still room for innovation in the art and craft of throwing balls to yourself?…

With the help of professional juggler Luke Burrage, he finds some fascinating examples:

Luke’s “rotating room” routine
Adam Dipert‘s “Space Juggling”
Greg Kennedy in a cone
And the OG, MacArthur Fellow Michael Moschen

Even more at “Innovations in Juggling,” from @ironicsans.

John Selden


As we stay aloft, we might send amazingly entertaining birthday greetings to John Bill Ricketts; he was born on (or around, records are sketchy) this date in 1769. An English equestrian, famed for his trick riding, he was also an impressario– who brought the first circus performances to the United States in Philadelphia in 1793.

John Bill Ricketts, aka, Breschard, the Circus Rider, by Gilbert Stuart
The original “Big Top” (source: Tracy Chevalier)

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October 15, 2022 at 1:00 am

“Juggling is sometimes called the art of controlling patterns, controlling patterns in time and space.”*…


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Part friendly circus act, part vicious duel: welcome to the world of combat juggling. Unlike the variety show clowns that would entertain you as a child, combat juggling is no joke; this is a competitive contact sport and there can only be one person left standing … er, juggling…

Great Big Story recently sat down with Denver, Colorado variety performer Sam Malcolm to learn more about the competitive and sometimes vicious sport of combat juggling.  [Via]

* Ronald Graham


As we keep ’em in the air, we might recall that it was on this date in 1900 that Luther Haden “Dummy” Taylor made his Major League debut.  A deaf-mute right-handed pitcher, he was a key feature of the New York Giants’ National League championship teams of 1904 and 1905.

Taylor communicated on-field with his teammates– all of whom learned sign language– with his hands. He is credited with helping to expand and make universal the use of sign language throughout the modern baseball infield, for example, the use of pitching signs.   And Taylor contributed to signing’s repertoire of profanities, frequently cussing out umpires with his hands (and largely getting away with it…  except when, as with Hank O’Day, he encountered a ref who knew sign language).

Taylor was also a consummate showman, an accomplished juggler who would often put on “a grand juggling act” in front of the Giants’ dugout to amuse the fans.




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August 27, 2016 at 1:01 am

Freezing the fugacious…


Performance artists have long felt the urge to record their creations so that they could be shared and performed again as created.  Musical notation dates back (at least) to 2000 BCE (a  cuneiform tablet that was created at Nippur, Sumer); dance notation, to the early 18th century.  But it wasn’t until the early 1980s that jugglers had a way to record and share their moves.

Invented by Paul Klimek in Santa Cruz, California in 1981, Siteswap (as the system is known) was further developed by Bruce “Boppo” Tiemann and Bengt Magnusson at the California Institute of Technology in 1985, and by Mike Day, Colin Wright, and Adam Chalcraft in Cambridge, England in 1985.  (In the U.K., the system is known as “Cambridge Notation.”)

Its simplest form, often called “vanilla siteswap,” charts throws as though one were to watch someone from above as they were juggling while walking forward– an approach sometimes called a “space-time diagram” or “ladder diagram.”


But over the years, the system has gotten more sophisticated, embracing more elaborate representations, like the “state diagrams” (that capture the positions of juggled objects in the air at any point, and allow the deduction of available options for next tosses).


As Slashdot reports,

‘Siteswap has allowed jugglers to share tricks with each other without having to meet in person or film themselves,’ says James Grime, juggling enthusiast and math instructor for Cambridge University. Still unclear on the concept? Spend some time playing around with Paul Klimek’s most-excellent Quantum Juggling simulator, and you too can be a Flying Karamazov Brother!


As we struggle to keep all of our balls in the air, we might recall that it was on this date in 1972 that Tom Stoppard’s Jumpers premiered at the Old Vic in London.  A satire of academic philosophy– likening it to a less-than skilful competitive display of gymnastics and, yes, juggling– the play is set in an alternative future in which British astronauts have landed on the moon… leading to fears that the landing  would ruin the moon as a poetic trope and result in a collapse of moral values.


Michael Hordern as philosopher George Moore (from the playtext cover). Moore is about to loose the arrow and disprove Zeno’s arrow paradox.


Happy Groundhog Day!



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February 2, 2013 at 1:01 am

From The Annals of Overachievement…

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Bilbao-based David Calvo juggles three Rubik’s Cubes, while solving one of them…

[TotH to Laughing Squid]

As we do the Twist, we might recall that it was on this date in 1926 that Erik Weisz (under his stage name, Harry Houdini, the most acclaimed magician and escape artist of the 20th century) passed away.  Twelve days earlier, Houdini had been talking to a group of students after a lecture in Montreal when he remarked on the strength of his stomach muscles and their ability to withstand hard blows.  One of the students spontaneously punched Houdini, who hadn’t had time to prepare, rupturing the magician’s appendix.  He fell ill on the train to Detroit; and, after performing there one last time, was hospitalized.  Doctors operated, but to no avail: the burst appendix poisoned Houdini’s system, and on Halloween he died.


Written by (Roughly) Daily

October 31, 2011 at 1:01 am

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