This weekend, I hopped out to Lopez Island for the 18th annual Lopez JuggleFest. It was my 5th(?) time attending and this year was as magical as ever. My thoughts from last year still apply: wonder and appreciation at the cooperation, thankfulness, and thoughtfulness shared. Oh, and there is always some kick ass juggling too.
As I was explaining to a friend recently, annual events such as this provide an opportunity for me to notice changes in my life that might have happened slowly enough that, without this chance for comparison from year to year, would go unnoticed. This applies both in a concrete sense (my first lopez festival 6(?) years ago, I had to leave early to get back to a housesitting gig just as I did this year i.e. some things don't change) and more conceptually (the practice of sharing a hug with a [near] stranger has gone from unheard-of-ly uncommon (and uncomfortable) to unremarkably common (and enjoyed) i.e. some things do change).
All this is to say that while my juggling skills got a much needed workout* this weekend, my mind-brain also made a few laps, both in analysis of change and merely of revisiting times past. Next weekend's juggling festival in Portland will be a little more juggling focused and a little less thought-provoking. Stay tuned for a post on that which will be a juggling post actually about juggling.
|Sunday September 21 2008||File under: juggling|
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|Last year, I posted about Anacortes's 4th of July Parade, the quintessential small town parade. The big highlight for me was the Beat the Heat group who marched to advocate living a lighter impact life specifically through less carbon emissions. This year, since I've become a member(ish) of the group, I decided to walk with them and effectively restart my annual tradition of juggling in the parade.
Since just juggling wouldn't really make any sense in the context of beating the heat, I had to get a creative. My solution: themed juggling clubs. And for those who couldn't really tell what the idea was, I made a little sign I wore on my back. While I don't think anyone really got it*, people seemed to at least enjoy the juggling.
The point of the exercise was as much to have fun both in the artistic endeavor of creating the clubs and walking in the parade as it was to influence/get people to think. I think the whole thing can be called a success.
Thanks to Gretchen, Ma, and Ron for snapping a few photos while I walked.
|Saturday July 5 2008||File under: juggling, Anacortes|
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Anyway, the festival was great. It was wonderful to see all my old juggling buddies again and throw things at their heads. The public show had some very creative acts and kept me quite entertained. The whole Canadian spin on things (metric system, funny money, accents, etc.) gave the weekend a more adventurous aura. Yep, good folks and good fun–I can't think of a better way to spend a weekend.
(The combination of my camera not taking good indoor pictures* and my laziness to attempt taking pictures led to only a few presentable shots of the festival: tall unicycle club passing and a gym of jugglers (taken at a non-optimum time because there were times when it was much hoppinger than this.))
|Monday March 17 2008||File under: juggling, transportation|
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|We all know I am a circus geek, right? (No, not that kind of circus geek, although chicken is pretty tasty. Anyhoo...) Whenever a circus type performance comes to the area, I like to attend. This latest circus, the Birdhouse Factory, particularly piqued my interest.
Its website describes it as acrobatics + machines + theatre + circus. What's not to be piqued about that? Well, that turned out to be a pretty accurate description. The props really added to the shows. Whether it was the unicycle driven stage or the elaborately geared German wheel*, there was always something mechanical going on on stage.
Besides the standard circus fare of juggling, aerialists, and whatnot, this show had something I haven't ever seen before, which is always a pleasant surprise. There was a trampoline act that was among the neatest things I've seen in a while. Performers would jump off a platform, perform various flips, and then land back on the platform as smoothly as if it was a video being played in reverse speed. So neat!
Another really neat aspect of this circus was their schedule. They performed mainly in smaller towns up the west coast (Bellingham as opposed to Seattle), at least for this tour. So often, it seems to me, a chosen denizen of smaller cities/towns, that culture/entertainment sometimes passes us by. To see groups catering to that leaves me with a warm fuzzy feeling.
|Tuesday November 13 2007||File under: juggling, events|
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|Sometimes a tiny step can take you to a world away. This point was well illustrated to me as I hopped on the ferry and journeyed out to Lopez for their annual jugglefest. Within the minutes of getting off the ferry, there were strangers hugging strangers in introduction and conversations of the 3 "D"s of Taoism. I couldn't help but note that experiences like these, which are far from my normal practices, are the norm for some people and they would be equally as unaccustomed to being told to shush when Alex is reading the clue for final Jeopardy*. Anyway, it felt good to be exposed to this different style of life.
But enough with the esoteric crap, let's now discuss the festival. The Lopez JuggleFest ranks right up at the top of my list of favorite juggling events. It is held all outdoors* with camping on site. The property consists of a great big lawn for juggling with a beautiful garden (from which comes a portion of the big meal), a great campfire circle, fruit trees, and a lake nearby for swimming. The atmosphere is laid back with cooperation and community oozing* from every person. Everyone pitches in to make the big Saturday meal. In the years past, I have been on cider squishing and ice cream cranking patrol, but this year I got to do the salmon marinade. When the first line on the "recipe" calls for 6 quarts of soy sauce, you know it is going to be a feast!
The highlight for most first time attendees is the naked fire juggling*. I, myself, tend to shy away from participation in this tradition. I'll leave that to the pros.
Yep, a weekend away from my little bubble is a good thing. My mind has been going non-stop since (hence the disarray of this post.)
|Wednesday September 19 2007||File under: juggling|
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|I consider myself somewhat of a circus arts snob. I've seen enough shows in my life to know what is good, creative, skillful, and professional. I've dabbled with enough of the skills to have the respect for those who do what they do well. While every show is different, many are too often the same. That is not the case with Dream Science Circus.
This is the third year Dream Science Circus has come through Anacortes, each time to a positive reception. This year, they performed in the depot, rather than their circus-style tent of years past. The new venue was probably easier for setup and had more comfort for the audience, but the loss of the tent did take away from the atmosphere a bit. The performers, though, did a great job conveying an other worldly atmosphere.
As for skills, there was juggling, lots of acro-balance, contact juggling, vignettes, aerial acrobatics, and more. The emcee, while good, drew out the in between bits a little too long for my liking which led to the whole show running a bit long, esp. for some of the children in the audience. I could have done without the plot all together, but like I said, I'm kind of a snob like that.
What was best about the show, for me, was the familiarity with the people. The circus is based out of Bellingham which has a close knit circus arts group of which I am lucky enough to be on the fringes of. To see performers on stage that I've juggled with and seen improve over the years is just plain neat.
Did I mention that I like circuses?
|Sunday August 5 2007||File under: Anacortes, juggling|
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|In my continued pursuit for a life of multiple income streams (as opposed to, say, getting a real job), I recently lined up a juggling gig at a local school. Now I am far from what one might think of when you thinks of a professional juggler. I don't have a standard routine, I don't wear a flashy costume, I don't have the obligatory audience participation bit, and I tell the occasional funny joke*. My "act" is more about building excitement and education, perfectly suited for the 10-18 year-old age group.
It turns out that there couldn't have been a better match between my "performance" style and these kids enthusiasm and learning style. They were attentive and duly impressed by my time on stage and asked lots of questions. When the education portion came around, they tried their hand at all my toys and each found his calling, more or less. There were "Hey, Wren! Check this out"s all around, which can't help but make any educator/coach smile.
Not only was the juggling experience great, but the visit to the school was great as well. The school is a live-in school on a nearby island, so the trip out was through the San Juans on calm seas with beautiful weather. How many people can say that they commute to work on a boat? The school grounds are very well kept and super conducive to playing outside, which is essentially what we did my whole time there.
This great experience was made all the greater in that it fits in with my ideal livelihood concept: getting paid for the many different things we have to offer and that we enjoy doing. So if anyone happens to need a juggler, housesitter, web developer, tutor, laborer, cheese tester*, public transportation coach, or environmental consultant, give me a call.
|Wednesday June 27 2007||File under: work, juggling|
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|Isn't it just like me to find the circus folk where ever I go? Well sure enough, in the biggest little city in Cambodia (Battambang), I've found one. The story behind this one goes like this (I think): A dude started a school dedicated to bringing more art to Cambodian life. It was funded by NGOs and the like. It took a hiatus during the whole civil war thing, but afterwards, it was back to action. Since then, it has grown to be almost financially independent with the proceeds of the various arts (painting, circus, music, etc.) partially going back to the students and their families in hope of convincing the families that school is worth sending your kids to.
I arrived early to get a good seat and was immediately swarmed by children. In an attempt to entertain them until the show started, I busted out all my tricks (pulled my thumb off, made a flute from my hands, snapped in various ways, disappearing quarter, etc.). This just pulled in a larger crowd, and some of the kids didn't even want to give up my show when the real show started. Anyway, it was a great cultural experience. Who would have thought d-list magic tricks could forge such an international bond?
Coming soon: The temples of Angkor. How excited am I? This excited.
|Monday December 4 2006||File under: juggling, travel|
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|Last night, I saw Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Baily circus at the Everett Convention Center. I'm not going to lie to you: I didn't have high expectations. I've grown accustomed to fancy circuses like Cirque d Soliel and Teatro Zinzani. I was expecting some elephants rolling on large balls, and a bunch of clowns. Boy was I wrong.
Yes, there were elephants and clowns, but there was a bunch more. Hat juggling, acrobatics, trained house cats (which, we agreed, was right up among the top acts), a strong man, pyrotechnics, and 7 motocycles in the globe of death: it was great. I highly recommend going. The seats were cheap, and it was totally worth it.
What made the experience even better is that a buddy of mine from college is a clown with the show. Afterwards, he took us backstage where we saw the clown dressing room (and got a couple autographs), and then to the train. The train, when compiled, is almost a mile long. We saw where the stars of the show live and travel. All along the way, Dan told anecdotes and details from his two years traveling with the circus.
All in all, it was a late night, but so worth it. It was really something to see what it is like to be in a circus. I don't see myself running off to join one anytime soon, but it is nice to know that if I do, I'll know what is awaiting me.
|Friday September 8 2006||File under: events, juggling|
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