I am currently sat in a very delightful pub in Bristol with two aims; have a pint and write a blog. I have tried to stick to my ‘blog post once a week for a year’ thing, but last week, regretfully, was the first week of the year that I didn’t write a blog post. However, I am determined to do two posts in one week at some point before NYE so that I have to catch up. I haven't been up to a whole lot this week that would be good to write about. I didn't do a gig, as the busy season doesn't REALLY kicked off for me for another few weeks. It has meant that I have had a lot of time for practicing and for planning my schedule for 2018. But this week I wanted to write a little bit about my inspirations. Most of my inspirations for the work that I make, in all honesty, don’t really come from juggling. It tends to come from shows, comedy, art, music, basically anything other than juggling (another blog post about that soon). However, there have been a few people in the juggling world, that without them, I wouldn’t be doing what I am doing today. I want to share with you my top 10 juggling inspirations in no particular order.
When I was 14 years old I had already been juggling for 4 years. The only juggling I ever saw at this point was from VHS’s of juggling conventions from the 1980’s where the jugglers would wear bow ties and sparkly waistcoats, and would perform to swing or classical music. In my head, that is what juggling was. I first saw Jay perform when I was 16 years old at Glastonbury Festival and he was basically a rockstar fused with juggling. It was everything I liked. He came on stage wearing dungarees and sunglasses, with a bag (possibly a bin bag) full of props, and proceeded to improvise (I’m sure it wasn't improvised, but it had the essence of freshness that made it all feel so alive) the craziest juggling I have ever seen. I basically idiolised (-d) Jay Gilligan for the past 14 years of my life. He is constantly pushing juggling further creatively than anyone else in the business that I know of.
Check out this TED Talk on Juggling by Jay: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YB_sfnwbgvk
And check out his book here: http://www.fourthshape.com/index.php?/show/5catches/
Sean Blue popped up at a random one day juggling convention in England around 15 years ago, and at that point, I had never heard of him. I saw some guy practicing in the corner of the gym who was very casually doing long runs of 7 and 8 rings, and I was hooked. Sean Blue is not only an amazing ring juggler, ring balancer, and performer but he is also a very talented ball spinner. He performs a signature trick of spinning 3 balls on one hand (can be seen at 1:34 in the video below).
I am aware that this is his old promo video, but I still really like it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=87A-Z6MfUUA
When I was 12 years old, my parents took me along to the Hall for Cornwall (Cornwall’s biggest theatre) to see Steve Rawlings perform. At this point, I didn't know that being a juggler was a job and I certainly didn't even consider the fact that it could be mixed with comedy. I vividly remember laughing so hard that I felt physically sick. Since then, as well is being an idol, he has become a bit of a mentor for me and I’m lucky to say, a very good friend.
Check him out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wWosFTNNTHc
Wes is considered to be one of the most innovative jugglers of all time, and rightfully so. Not only is he technically out of this world, the amount of material that this fella churns out is an inspiration alone.
Check out the beast's mad skills here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MhA11dzJkFA
When I was 17 (maybe 18), I started working with Gandini Juggling and still do, on and off, to this day. When I got the phone call from the company asking if I would like to come to London to do a show, I was over the flippin’ moon! The way that the company works, and the amount of innovative material that they have created is phenomenal. I remember when I was working with the company, I would sometimes have an idea, speak to the company about it, and soon realise that they did the same idea 10 years before the conversation. They have done everything, and have changed the face of group throughout the entire world. It is hard to even choose one video that represents the company. I don't have a favourite show or a favourite video. They created a show called 4x4 recently with 4 ballet dancers and 4 jugglers. It is one of the best things I have ever seen.
Check out the trailer here: https://vimeo.com/117536055
Luke Wilson (1976-2012)
Luke had an extraordinary eye for detail and exceptional level of creative and dexterity. He was a a pioneer of 3 club juggling as you will see in the video. His level of detail was very inspiring to me and I am lucky enough to have called him a friend.
Check out his mad skills in this routine: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uge90JMHrGc
Michael Davis is a trailblazer for comedy juggling. This is just a guess, but I reckon he must be the juggler who has had the most material ripped off from him. His skills mixed with his very dry sense of humour has been very influential to me. He really is a genius.
Check him out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XKRrfAzdpW8
The greatest juggler of all time. No question about it. Sadly, he has hung up his kit bag, now doesn’t juggle, and instead runs a concreting company. But without a doubt, the best juggler in the world. At the age of 5 he could juggle 5 balls, at the age of 7, he could juggle 7 balls. Totally outstanding. He famously only used to practice between 1-2 hours a day. It wasn't about how many hours he put in, it was about the quality of practice that made him so great. Practice doesn’t make perfect, but perfect practice makes perfect, and Gatto was the perfect example of this.
Sean Mckinney (1974-2004)
In 2005 I entered the British Young Juggler of the Year Competition and won (toot toot!). This was the first time I started performing at juggling conventions, when I was around 16. At this point I had already been watching Jay Gilligan for a few years, so my style in juggling had changed from shirts, bow ties and jazz, to jeans, t shirts and rock music. After a show that I did at the convention, a man comes up to me and says, “I really like your style, you must be a massive fan of Sean Mckinney”. I didn't know who Sean Mckinney was, but I wrote the name down, and as soon as I got home I researched him. I was an instant fan. Juggling, mixed with all of the music that I liked (punk and rock), mixed with ripped jeans, and an amount of passion with his juggling that I had never seen before. Sean Mckinney changed juggling forever.
Penn and Teller
Now, I know that Penn and Teller are not strictly jugglers (well Penn is, but he only really performs magic except for one routine where he juggles broken bottles), but the way that they approach material has had a massive influence on me. In a nutshell, they will look at what the majority of the magicians are doing, and then they would try to do the opposite. Most jugglers would perform the cup and balls routine with normal opaque cups, but Penn and Teller will do it with transparent cups. They have many many examples of this format, and I love them! It is hard to choose a routine to post here, but as I have talked about the cups and balls, here it is: