Analyse a Juggling Act like a Poem or Piece of Art


This is a idea i have been playing with for some time but i am going nowhere with it so i guess i just share it to get some feedback and maybe get this “experiment” startet.

The basic idea is: What if we analysed/interpreted Juggling Acts the way we learned to do with Literature or Art in School.

I don´t think there is a huge need for juggling act interpretations in the juggling scene but i believe the process of writting these interpretations could reveal some interesting stuff on how we perceive juggling, basic building pieces of juggling acts and common themes expressed in juggling acts. How can it be that a white dot in art can mean anything but a white ball in juggling is a white ball.

I am looking forward to stuff like: “The use of mills mess variations visualises the performers confussion in a modern world full of contradicting informations represented by the different bright coloured props he is using and his sneakers”

Some interpretations may be more funny and less accurate while others may be more accurate but a bit boring (the final 9b cascade is proof of the high technical ability of the performer)

So far i see two ways to approach this: either choose one act and have several members write an short interpretation on it or everyone gets to choose an act to interpretate himself

Guess thats the idea, let me know what you think about it


Hey. I am not sure if I’m allowed by internet etiquette to revive an almost week-old thread (i’ve been off Object Episodes, so just saw it yesterday), but i was intrigued by your proposal so i’ll do i t anyway and hope to not get shunned:D

There are a few problems (not as in bad things but as in things to be discussed) inherent to your idea that seem unsaid or unemphasized and I would like to focus a bit on them, because your proposal raises some more general questions about juggling and how we look at it that i find interesting.

One thought that we’ve explored a little in some threads here already is that juggling exists in many different worlds, such as sports, entertainment and performative art. And if you look at that last world-what you are proposing is of course already being done quite a lot. Especially when you put juggling in the context of the art of contemporary circus, it is being analysed criticised and interpreted like literature or art…because, well, it is art. So you have reviews and analyses such as the ones made by professional critics ( for example: ,és ), breakdowns by the artists themselves ( ) etc. (Sorry for giving kind of similar examples. There isn’t actually that much of this kind of stuff online, since contemporary circus is a relatively new and less estalished art, but the point is that professional juggling critique that looks at juggling as art does already exist :))
In addition to that, among people who are interested in the “art” context of juggling, it’s very natural to discuss performances in exactly such a way, finding deeper meanings, interpreting stuff and suchlike. To me it seems kind of normal or natural to watch a juggling show or performance and discuss it with friends like you would discuss any other piece of art. You are also encouraged to think like that (what’s the meaning, what’s the subtext, what’s being communicated by the juggling and so on) about your own work if you are an “artistic” juggler.

(i guess it’s clear that i don’t fully agree with the statement that “a white ball in juggling is a white ball”, or at least with the implications of that statement, as i perceive them:))

However, you are proposing to analyse juggling acts in particular. And this is where questions start arising for me. A juggling act, the way i understand it, can be part of different contexts. It can be done in an “art” context (for example a final work in an artsy french circus school) , in a hobby context (for example an act at a convention basically showing off what new technique that juggler has learnt that year) and in an entertainment context (self explanatory. Cruise ships, private commercial performances etc).
Your experience might be different, but for me, the entertainment context is where i most usually see juggling performed in the form of an act. (Like a 7 minute type of thing that’s kind of technique heavy and has a certain type of progression). As I have observed, the main goal of such acts is quite often not to communicate an idea or a message, but mostly to show exciting technique. The theatrical parts of it (such as crazy costumes or some mime stuff where the juggler pretends to be a janitor to explain him juggling with a broom or something) quite often seem to be just added on cosmetically, in order to “justify” the 9 ball flash or whatever.
Therefore, as the goal of most juggling acts that i have seen are seemingly not intended to be interpreted as literature or art, and instead the goal seems to be to just impress the audience, the question arrives - is there a point to trying to interpret those acts as art? It’s still possible, as you have shown with your examples, but my thought is that when a performer doesn’t put a lot of conceptual material into their work (such as themes, influences, ideas they want to communicate), it’s much harder and less rewarding to analyse it…A commercial juggling act, of course, still communicates much more than just tricks-when you watch one, you analyse the information presented to you and you do interpret different stuff like why did they choose this music, why are they dressed as a pirate, why did they have this particular reaction to a drop etc, but as analysis goes, this seems very one sided-you try to get something out of it that wasn’t put in there in the first place.

An “artistic”’ juggling piece (and by artistic i mean any performance that tries to communicate a message, beyond “look at this ,this is cool”. ) has a lot of information put in there by the performer, who wants you to interpret it and sort of invites you to a dialogue. You might get a different interpretation than the artist intended, but at least if it made you think and feel, it can be called successful. Of course a 7 minute juggling act can also be such a “dialogue-opening” performance. But as i said, in my experience that’s rare.

Your experience might be very different, and so I guess my main question, summarizing all this, would be-why do you propose to analyse juggling acts, and not other forms of juggling performance? Why not analyse combat sessions as literature?:slight_smile:

(P.s. sorry for the long text, i might unnecessarily overexplain some things that are already clear to everybody. But i think it’s important to lay out my thoughts in such a way, that you know where my logical chains start from:))


I’m quite agree with Alex.
And for me most of juggling performance is about showing of skill, make people laugh and surprise people, so meanly the juggler propose a entertainment and people seeing juggling as a entertainment thing.
And it’s a good thing in a way to enjoying entertainment, and a good thing for us to like to create entertainment for ourself and others.
And it is possible to analyses how do they put stuff next to each other to see how the entertainment is drive. And in most cabaret juggling act, the weft is very simple.

Next to that, in France at least, some want to do more than entertain people. The dramaturgy is the main subject, using juggling, (and theater, dance tool) to express. Of course, Juggling can (maybe should) be the driver of what dramartugy say.

After that, of course as Alex propose you can use your Analyse tool and everyday activity, and that is funny.


Hey hey. I think that we would come to very interesting conclusions if we start analysing juggling acts through the perspective of other forms of art. For example, <<Expert Newton’s Cradles>>, is it a new media art installation? Can it be compared to the kinetic art and especially the sculpture of Reuben Marcolin? And if not, what is the point of difference between this two exemples?
On the other hand, when it comes to analysing a 10 minute act, it can be a very difficult thing to do. But what would happen if we look at it as a chain of images? We could analyse the function of colours, the lines of the patterns of the tricks and their interaction with the space like we would do with painting or architecture. I don’t know if this kind of work has already been done by someone else before, but it could really develop our perspective on juggling.