43nd Annual Isla Vista Juggling Festival Highlights
By Robert Bernstein
Last weekend people came from far and wide to attend the 43nd Annual Isla Vista Juggling Festival in Isla Vista! The longest-running juggling festival in the world!
Juggling festivals are a chance for new people to come by and try juggling for the first time. We were very fortunate to have quite a few people drop by just because they walked by and saw the festival. We also advertised and invited people through Facebook.
Chizuko is a swing dance teacher and one of my very favorite dance partners. I was thrilled that she was willing to come out and give juggling a try. I was impressed with how quickly she picked up the basic three ball juggling skill! It is more about rhythm and consistent tosses than it is about catching at first. She totally got the basics!
A big attraction at juggling festivals is a chance to pass clubs with other jugglers. Often in creative new patterns.
Sometimes the patterns get so complex there is more dropping than passing, but everyone is enjoying the challenge!
Another big attraction at juggling festivals is "numbers juggling". Most people have no idea how many objects is a lot to juggle. It gets exponentially more difficult to juggle increasing numbers of objects. As a result, most juggling performances on stage or in the circus stay with 3-4 balls, clubs or rings.
But juggling festivals bring out a lot of people who are engineers or scientists by profession and they enjoy the challenge of juggling ever increasing numbers of objects.
It might take a year of dedicated practice to be able to juggle five balls. Here Cody Paustell showed off his five ball skill. He was up from Orange County with the Orange Jugglers. He brought a bucket of hand-made balls to teach new jugglers.
It takes even longer to learn to juggle five clubs. Here Draco Tong of UCLA performed challenging five club patterns
Michael Pearce had come from Oakland to share his extraordinary skills. He warmed up by juggling three balls and three clubs at the same time!
Anything more than six objects is extremely rare. Some juggling festivals stop at that level. But here was Draco juggling seven balls! Only a few people in the entire US can juggle seven objects!
But it just keeps getting more amazing! Michael Pearce was juggling seven clubs! A fair amount harder than seven balls because you have to get the spin of each of them just right!
He does not claim to have mastered this almost impossible feat. But he clearly has gone far beyond anything I have ever seen before!
Matan Presberg came with Michael Pearce from Oakland. It is clear that each inspires the other to go for ever more extraordinary challenges. And, wow, they met those challenges! Here was Matan Presberg juggling nine balls! I had never seen this before! The world record ever for ball juggling is eleven balls!
I captured several of his tries with nine balls on video which gives an idea of how amazing this is. Just getting them all in the air properly is a challenge!
One highlight of the Festival is the Public Show. It is usually held at the Isla Vista Theater but it was impossible to get any venue at UCSB this year. The event is a fund raiser for "Standing Together to End Sexual Assault" (SBSTESA) formerly known as the Rape Crisis Center. This is in honor of Isla Vista juggler Patty Laney who was raped and murdered back in the 1970s.
But our own local juggler, unicyclist and acrobat Danielle Bushar managed to organize an informal public show in the park in the evening! The Cohen Brothers amused the crowd with their Mirror Juggling routine!
Several other performers wowed the crowd with some creative three ball patterns that lit up the night with color. But no one could top the dazzling performance of Michael Pearce juggling lighted clubs.
After the public show people continued the fun with lighted juggling toys.
And the organizers even got permission to juggle fire. Danielle Bushar is multi-talented as noted above and sometimes performs with me on her unicycle in Solstice (though she is far better than I am!). Here she calmly showed off her fire juggling skills.
Here you can see others playing with fire, too!
Be sure to check out the other videos and photos!
The Santa Barbara Juggling Association and Club Juggling at UCSB meet all year round to juggle, learn new tricks and teach anyone who wants to give it a try!
HERE you can find more information!