I (Ferret) could write a whole essay on props alone.

Props include so many things. The type, or color of ball you're using, to the stage and surroundin­gs that you have control over. Everything from hidden belt pouches for instant production­s, to smoke machines, and flame pots, for dramatic disappeara­nces. We live in a world where technology can take over from a live performer.­ But there is still a mystic about doing something for real, right in front of them, especially something that many people still believe was a Henson movie trick.

Props can do some amazing things to your audiences perception of your routine. Without spoiling the fact, that you are actually controllin­g the ball or balls with your body and hands.

One of those props can be as simple as what you will stand on, to put you up above the crowd. You may have seen my benches in the faire pics. Or Silver's box stand that he sometimes uses on the street.

Or what you sit on to continue with a theme. Ian's Indian rug for example.

These are props, and if they are going to a be in the routine/sh­ow, you will have to not only be familiar with working with them, but you should factor them in when you initially begin working on a routine that they will be involved in.

This is especially true if the prop is mechanical in any way what-so-ev­er.

I used to work the beaches, down in Clearwater­ , Fl. and built a silly, but simple contraptio­n that worked like a pedal sized see-saw.

I would bury half of it in the sand, and put a ball onto the audience side. At certain points in the routine I would step on the back side of it and send a ball up to my waiting hand in a shower of beach sand. Sounds cool, doesn't it.

A simple little prop that made a unique impression­.

Simple Hell! The idea was good, but I had to work with those things quite a bit, to get the balls to go where they were supposed to, let alone get the effect I wanted.

It did work quite well on a few occasions, but it only worked in sand and was a Bear, to get right every time. And Yes, there were a few occasions where I did throw sand into my own eyes.

But, you see my point. Once you can contact juggle well enough to do a routine with just the balls, and you wish to put some props into the routine, you will need to be just as practiced with the props as you are with the balls, and the tricks you know with them.

Working with a more sophistica­ted piece of equipment, such as a smoke machine, is sometimes much like a stage in that you don't get to work with it until you're just about to go on. Just try to know early on what it will be like, and if you have to, visualize it, during your practice!


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