Penn Jillette without the politics
September 17, 2012 9:08 AM   Subscribe

I can juggle three balls, walk on stilts, and eat fire. What are some good books/resources on learning more?

I'd like recommendations specifically on advancing these skills, especially juggling, but I'm also interested in other "circus skills" I haven't tried or don't know about. Strong man tricks? Sword swallowing? Geekery? Unicycle riding?

On preview of previous questions there is such a thing as circus classes. Any experience with that, or recommendations in the Dallas/Fort Worth area?
posted by cmoj to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (12 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Something that comes in really handy with circus skills is tumbling. You can find a course at almost any Y.
posted by xingcat at 9:09 AM on September 17, 2012

Best answer: You may be the perfect person to attend Lone Star Circus School :D
posted by batmonkey at 9:11 AM on September 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Tight-rope walking (or, slacklining if that's more to your taste)
posted by jquinby at 9:14 AM on September 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The circus people that I know know how to do things like: slack rope walking, costuming and makeup sorts of things, trapeze antics, hammering a nail into their nose [or a ramen noodle in the mouth and out the nose if you are squeamish], acrobatics (tumbling, contortion of you're built that way), shadow puppetry, other puppetry, mask making, unicycling, "high bike" riding, street theater, trampolining, working with trained animals &c. PBS did a sort of neat "Learn circus tricks" thing geared towards kids that might give you some ideas.
posted by jessamyn at 9:20 AM on September 17, 2012

Best answer: You need to learn to juggle clubs and then flaming clubs and then combine with eating fire. Get to it.
posted by bdc34 at 9:29 AM on September 17, 2012

Best answer: There is probably a juggling club near you that meets regularly. Find them! There will be advanced jugglers who are happy to teach you new things; they'll have clubs that you can play with, and there will be some slackliners / unicyclers there, too.

I'm about one step above you in juggling mastery. The things I've learned that were most satisfying:

* Lots of three-ball tricks. I enjoy these more than juggling 4/5 balls or juggling clubs.
* Juggling 3 clubs is not hard to learn if you're proficient with 3 balls. It will make your sense of object balance much better. I'm one of those idiots who will pick up three random objects at a party and juggle them, and I owe this ability to club juggling
* Passing clubs is tons of fun if you have a group of people
* Learning 4 balls is not hard (can you do 2 in one hand? do that with both hands.), but imho 4-ball tricks aren't as varied or satisfying as 3-ball tricks.
* What not to do: 5 balls is exponentially harder than 3
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 9:40 AM on September 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

Learn to juggle more than 3 balls (or other items). That's nothing you can learn from books though - just start using more balls (items of choice) in practise.
posted by MinusCelsius at 9:41 AM on September 17, 2012

Best answer: Sword swallowing is, IMHO, really fucking stupid and dangerous. I know guys who do it and that has, if anything, confirmed my opinion. I should note that my opinion of eating fire is about the same. Take it for what you will.

There are a zillion three ball tricks you can learn. Four balls isn't hard, but probably isn't worth it for performing (five balls is better, but harder to learn. It is, however, learnable if you put the time in). Three clubs is a much better trick. Learn that and you can learn club passing too (which also has about a zillion variations).

Definitely unicycle.

Lasso tricks?

I just checked, the Dallas Jugglers Association is still active. I last went there about 20 years ago. Same guy is running it. Go figure. That's a great place to learn new stuff.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 10:37 AM on September 17, 2012

Skills will come with practice and inspiration. You already know how to practice, now here is one my best inspirations-- Michael Moschen. If you don't know Mike already (and every juggler should), a great place to start is with this performance at TED. Absolutely amazing. I think everyone, not just jugglers, should see this incredible show.
posted by seasparrow at 10:56 AM on September 17, 2012

Best answer: Dube has a good selection of books and DVDs. Specifically, the Encyclopedia of Ball Juggling by Charlie Dancey is fantastic.

If you ever pass through Austin, the Texas Juggling Society has a free meeting every Thursday night, and everyone of all skill levels is welcome. Also, every February we have Jugglefest, a 3-day festival with tons of workshops and shows. You should come!

Other Circus Arts you might want to check out include: Hope this helps!
posted by alienzero at 11:37 AM on September 17, 2012

Best answer: Came in to recommend the Encyclopaedia of Ball Juggling; was beaten to the punch. Never mind. Heartily seconding instead.

I think The Complete Juggler, by Dave Finnigan, is pretty good too.

Related (though not necessarily circus) skills: as well as various things people have already mentioned, things that I've seen come up at juggling sessions include yo-yos, devil sticks and poi. I have a kendama and find it quite entertaining. You might also like to try your hand (and arm) at contact juggling.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 1:08 PM on September 17, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks, guys. Perfect.

Best answers as bookmarks!
posted by cmoj at 8:31 AM on September 18, 2012

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