Juggling is an art that requires dexterity and agility that dates to the
most ancient of times. The words juggling and juggler derive from the Middle
English jogelen ("to entertain by performing tricks"), which in turn is from the
Old French jangler. Juggling is a physical skill involving the manipulation of
one or many objects (such as balls, clubs, or rings) at the same time, most often
using one or two hands but also possible with feet, and may be practiced
individually or in a group, and in the air or on the ground. The object is always
to keep the items in motion, with the juggler re-launching each as it falls.
Juggling is frequently practiced in combination with other circus disciplines
(such as the unicycle) and comes in several flavors from basic balancing to high
contact manipulation. Among the outstanding international cast is Frederich "Boul"
Zipperlen from France, a creative juggler and contortionist who emerges from what
looks like a giant cellophane ball to perform an act that combines dance, juggling,
acrobatics and balancing, set to a jazzy beat.
He emerges in the ring from a gigantic cellophane ball and begins a beguine of dancing,
juggling and balancing that dazzles the audience. He contorts his body into graceful knots
while crystal balls fly from his fingers into the air. One lands on his head and moves smoothly
from forehead to ear, then ear to neck, glides down his arm to the elbow's bend, then up again
to a bicep bump.
Boul (his nickname in French means... you guessed it, "ball") specializes in balls. Now he
juggles five, and, catching one on his neck he juggles the rest until they come to a soft landing
on his back and, like neat little soldiers, march down the length of his spine. He smiles and
suddenly three balls move under his leg, merging with two others into a five-ball cascade. Next,
he does a knee catch and a forehead balance, his body drops into the splits and twists artfully
into a neck stand with a ball spinning on a finger of each hand.
Contortions now begin in earnest. With one ball held tightly between his feet he vaults into a
handstand, his feet dip in a gradual arch to his head. The ball drops to his neck while his body
lowers to a resting place, chest on the ground. The crowd is suitably impressed, imagining the
hours of work involved in mastering these seemingly effortless maneuvers.
A court jester moves behind him holding a hat. Boul bends backward from the waist and shoots
five ping-pong balls, rapid fire, in an arc. They plop safely one after the other into the waiting
bowler. It's his favorite trick. (Orrel Lanter, Juggle Magazine)