Running a Contact Juggling workshop

So – you can Contactjuggle, and you’d like to pass on your skills to others. Maybe you’ve taught some friends or a family member to Contactjuggle, with varying degrees of success, or perhaps you’d like to work with young people or groups with special needs. This document is a brief guide to some of the things you might want to bear in mind before, during and after you teach a CJ workshop.

Do you have the right skills?

Members of the public (non-contactjugglers) assume that if you are a Contactjuggler, then you can do any move. Bodyrolling, on your head, with your feet... Although people who have never seen CJ don't know all the moves you can do with a ball, people that like to participate will know that. Tell them in advence something about yourself, and your level of skills. Don't overdo. Its up to you to decide if its time to start with workshops.

Do you have (enough) equipment?

This depends on how many people you’re teaching, obviously. One teacher can probably handle up to 10 - 15 students during a one or two hour workshop. This implies that you have at least enough CJ practice balls for so many people. There probably will be some people who bring there own, but don't count on it. If the workshop is longer than 1 day, lets say a 5 weeks, 1 evening a week course, then they have to do some homework... Some of them will ask if they can take the ball with them. Think about how to solve this. Maybe ask some bail. On the other hand, there will be people who want to buy one or more balls for themselves. If you're smart, then make sure you have some deal with an acrylic ball (and practice ball) seller, so you can tell them that if they buy there, they get a discount.

The balls you bring with you, should be the right size and weight. I prefer the 100mm practice balls which are at least 200 gr.Also don't forget to bring some music and a player. When you have, lets say, a two hour workshop, you will always have a few moments where everybody is practising, and rhythmic music will help enormously!

Risky business...

Bear in mind that whatever you do, some injuries will just happen. The organisation you are working for should have provisions for first aid, ask them if necessary, and at least know where you can find the kit. You might want to consider doing a first aid course yourself.

Most Contactjugglers know that things can break. Not the balls, but things in the surrounding. Smartphones, glasses, watches, cups,  computerscreen, mirrors, etc. So before you start, tell everybody to realize that this can happen. Give them the oppertunity to put their phone, glasses or watches  away in their jackets, or bring a crate with lid or something where they can put it in. Tell them you are not responsible for broken things...

How to behave...

Common sense, but: Don’t ever, ever do a workshop while under the influence. It can also be quite unpleasant for workshop participants if you smell of beer or cigarettes, not to mention what impression of jugglers you give out, especially to young people.

It is best to start the workshop with a brief demonstration of all the skills, perhaps with a few silly jokes and tricks. Remember the participants want to have fun – and they’ll learn quicker if they do. Explain that you’re a contactjuggler (not a clown), perhaps tell a story about how you first learnt, and how much fun it is. It’s also sometimes useful to explain that you’re not a teacher like at school, you’re just a juggler.

Be patient and don’t get frustrated. Everyone learns at a different speed and this doesn’t affect how good they might eventually become. If someone is really getting nowhere, try taking them back a step, or try a different prop. Don’t try and force it. Be pleasant, be friendly and smile as often as you can!

To get an idea how  CJ workshops are, you find some clips here. Take a look and get inspired!

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