Contact Juggling

Contact juggling is a form of illusion created by manipulating objects with contact from the body. Although it is called juggling it does not include the tossing of objects into the air. Contact juggling is generally performed by rolling balls on your hands and arms to create illusions of floatation and fluid movement that seem otherwise impossible.

Ancient History

CJCertain basic forms of manipulation have been around for centuries before they were considered part of the art of juggling. These manipulations were mostly done by balancing, rolling, or palm spinning a single ball. Magicians have used forms of contact juggling to create the illusion of levitation and inanimate animation in which an object seems to have a mind of its own. In ancient times many forms of contact juggling were looked at as magic or sorcery which, as you may already know was not always a good thing.

The Invention of Contact Juggling

contact juggling inventionThe modern form of contact juggling was not started until the 1980s. A man named Michael Moschen put on a routine called “Light” that introduced contact juggling to the world. In this routine he used 75mm clear crystal balls and was able to palm spin up to eight at one time. At the end of the act he would roll one clear ball over his hands and arms to make it appear as if it were floating. He was widely praised for his act but the international circus community and was awarded the MacArthur genius grant in 1990.

Michael Moschen may have developed the techniques the paved the way for today’s contact juggling enthusiasts but he did not come up with the name. He didn’t know what to call what he did. It wasn’t until 1991 that game developer James Ernest wrote the book Contact Juggling and gave the Michael Moschen’s performance a genre and name.

Contact Juggling’s Growth

contact jugglingThe online contact juggling community began in 1999 which a Yahoo discussion group that created www.contactjuggling.org. This site became the host of all thing contact juggling for English speaking people. It included tutorials in both video and text format, forums where people interested in contact juggling could meet, and regular active members that began to steadily increase as contact juggling became popular. By 2006 there were a wide range of contact juggling sites that gave those from Europe and Asia the ability to learn as well. The first contact juggling convention was held in Florida in September of 2001. Two years later the first European contact juggling convention was held. Now there are tons of clubs, groups, and conventions devoted to the art of contact juggling all over the world.

Contact juggling is still very young. Although it has been technically around for centuries it is considered one of the newest forms of juggling around. There is a lot of room open for innovation and creation in the contact juggling genre. People are coming up with new tricks and illusions in an attempt to make a name for themselves each and every day. You could be a part of history and revolutionize this new form of juggling today.