Contact Juggling - History

History

Many of the techniques found in contact juggling, such as balancing or rolling a single ball or palm spinning (see "Baoding Balls"), have been performed for centuries. More variations were introduced by vaudevillians such as Paul Cinquevalli. In 1986, American juggler Tony Duncan was reported to be holding audiences spellbound with an act that involved rolling a single ball all over his body.

Michael Moschen brought the form to a new level with his performance, "Light", developed in the 1980s. In this performance he used 75mm clear crystal balls, palm spinning up to eight balls simultaneously. He finished the act by rolling a single clear ball so that it appeared to float over his hands and arms. Moschen received high regard from the international circus community for his range of innovative new techniques, and he was made a MacArthur Fellow (received a "Genius Award") in 1990. In the 1986 film, Labyrinth, David Bowie's character performs contact juggling throughout the film. These manipulations were performed by Moschen, who stood behind Bowie during filming, reaching around and performing the tricks "blind". In the film's credits, Moschen is credited for "crystal ball manipulation."

In the summer of 1990, John P. Miller (now better known by his pen-name, James Ernest), wrote and published the first edition of the book Contact Juggling, which covers all of the basic contact juggling techniques and methods for learning them. The first edition had a run of only 100 copies, photocopied and stapled. The second edition was published in 1991, in a comb-bound format, by Ernest Graphics Press, with the author listed as James Ernest. Ernest is credited with coining the term "contact juggling".

In 1991, the video "Michael Moschen: In Motion" (created as the television special "In Motion with Michael Moschen" for PBS's "Great Performances" series) was released. Since then, this form of juggling has received further popularization through instructional materials and performances developed by jugglers other than Moschen. Throughout the 1990s, there was continuing contention within the juggling community regarding whether Moschen's ideas were being stolen by performers and juggling instructors (see "Controversy", below). Since, many resources have become available for contact jugglers, such as clubs, books, festivals, videos/DVDs, and balls specifically manufactured for contact juggling.

In 2010, Zoom TV, a direct-marketing company, began mass-marketing "the Fushigi Magic Gravity Ball", an acrylic contact juggling ball with a steel core (used to prevent the focusing of sunlight through a clear acrylic sphere, a fire hazard). Zoom TV claimed that the ball possesses special properties that make it "appear to float" and improve balance and control (see "Controversy", below), and saw significant commercial success.

In 2010, an updated and revised third edition of the book Contact Juggling was released by Ernest Graphics Press.

Read more about this topic:  Contact Juggling

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