Body Rolling

When you first describe Contact Juggling to a person who has never heard of it, you might say something like “It’s like normal juggling, but the balls are rolled all over the arms and body instead of thrown in the air”.

This gives a mental image, which is fascinating, and is what I live for as a CJer – the idea that someone could dance, or mime, all the while rolling a ball on the body as though strings are attached.

Unlike Palmspinning, which is a very “close-up” art, body rolling is large and expressive. To entertain your audience, you have to become large and expressive as well.

Compare close-up magic and stage magic. In close-up magic, you concentrate on the hands (usually) – it does not matter what expression is on the magician’s face, or whether he/she is wearing an outfit. All that matters is the interaction of the hands with the object being manipulated. In stage magic, however, the magician’s body language is all important.

A fantastic contact juggler can practice for weeks, and be baffled about why the audience is not impressed if he/she forgets to include the whole body with the move. I have seen routines where the audience “oohed” and “aahed” at moves which any green CJer could pull off with only the minimum experience – this was because of the performers “stage presence” – an invaluable aid in a performance.

By all means, learn the most difficult moves you can learn, but always be aware of how they look to the audience!

When you practice any move in body rolling – also practice moving the body to accentuate the move. Pretend the ball has a life of it’s own.

One comment I heard about a CJer I knew years ago was that he never moved his legs. The commenter did not say anything about the CJing itself, which said to me that the fact the CJer had not moved his legs made the legs stand out more than the ball. You must avoid this.

Move your body to focus the audience on the ball. Don’t look around while performing – examine the ball. The audience will pick up on your focus, and watch it themselves.

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