Zen and The Art of Circus Training

I spend a lot of time staring at walls, which is strange to me. I never thought that would be something I spent so much time doing. From a young age I was always moving, climbing, and getting into things and that has never changed. It has lead me straight into my profession: Circus Variety Performer. This is a job that I absolutely love and can’t get enough of because I get to move and climb and travel! Something that has changed in the last couple months, though, is I’ve been practicing Soto Zen mediation. To the casual observer it looks like sitting on a cushion and staring at a wall. The more I get into it, though, the more I see the similarities between my circus practice and my meditation practice. I know it’s a weird correlation, but stay with me – I’ll explain.

Juggling was my first circus love and I would spend hours in a racket ball court facing the wall and practicing juggling patterns. When working on juggling, the tendency is to walk forwards to fix weird throws instead of standing there and drilling the trick correctly. I tend to be obsessive about the things that I like. I would stand there, for hours on end, drilling juggling patterns until I could do them without moving my feet or thinking about the pattern. It was just me, the wall, my props, and the invading thoughts I’m trying to dodge because I’m supposed to be concentrating. That stupid thing I said five years ago and everything I could have said instead is running through my head. It’s therapeutic in a masochistic kind of way. With the endless hours of isolated practice I’ve had plenty of time to work out all my internal struggles and come to terms them. Well, most of them. Ok, only some of them. That’s where meditation has come in.

Starting meditation was very similar to circus training for me, minus the circus props. It’s like when you’re about to fall asleep or when you’re taking a shower. Your mind says “Finally you’re not preoccupied with something!” Things just start bubbling up from the unknown. This has been a source of many fun ideas for me. Did you know that penguins have knees? Some of my best ideas have smacked me in the side of the head when I wasn’t thinking of anything and demanded that I bring them into the world, refusing to let me sleep peacefully until I did. I’d love to tell you that it’s all sunshine and roses that pop up, but it’s not. In both circus practice and mediation, it brought up a lot of pain that I didn’t want to deal with. There’s no running from your self, though. We’re all just going in circles and the faster you run away, the harder your problems will smack you in the face. Fear is a liar and you can’t control what anyone else says or does. No one can make you feel something; you do that to yourself. So why worry and spend so much time causing your own pain?

One of the reasons I love circus is that it’s not based on competition. As that kid in school that loved to move, I needed something to focus my energy on or I would literally crawl up the walls. That was gymnastics and dance at first, but as I got older and better, classes weren’t available unless I joined a team. The main purpose of the team was to go to competitions – I hated competitions and the feeling of going against others. Circus arts aren’t just about competitions. Its purpose is to work with your strengths to see how far you can go with your skills. That was a purpose I could really get behind.

Thus started my career as a performer and eventually as a circus teacher. During our warm up for my circus classes I do arm circles, where one arm circles forward and the other circles backward. Stop reading right now and give this a try. Seriously, don’t worry about looking silly. When one of my students first tries this, they often have a difficult time and have to do it very slowly if they can do it at all. Here’s the catch – if you have to think about it, you can’t really do it. If you can do it without thinking, it feels as natural as wiggling your fingers, but you often can’t figure that out without having to think about it first.

That was what mediation was like for me when I first started. You’re supposed to sit and not think, but all I could do was think about how I wasn’t supposed to be thinking. It’s a fun paradox, and by “fun” I mean “frustrating”. Zen is full of those. I’ve learned that thoughts will pop in, even if you’re good at mediation. Instead of trying to barricade thoughts, which as far as I know is damn near impossible, recognize them as they come up and gently guide them out. This is the heart of circus training as well. Props have a natural way they want to move built within them. When you guide it together with your movement rather than trying to force it, that’s when it works. There’s no distinction between you and the prop – you’re one with it. That’s the goal in circus – you train skills, the crazier the better, until they are as natural as tying your shoe. It’s not doing it until you get it right, it’s practicing until you can’t get it wrong.

Circus performers often become very strong. Though you do need to be strong for a lot of circus acts. I believe that one reason performers get stronger is because when we first learn skills, we do them wrong. It takes far more strength to practice circus skills when you’re not doing it correctly. We don’t know how the trick is supposed to feel or how to make the apparatus and the timing work for us instead of against us. You can tell someone has mastered a trick when they make it look effortless. That’s because instead of working against the rhythm of the trick, the performer and the apparatus are one. The apparatus is a natural extension of the performer. There’s a moment of weightlessness at the top of a swing and of power in a spin. You need to feel that moment, because no amount of thinking will ever tell you when it hits, and in that moment you can perform miraculous things.

Another big similarity between meditation and circus is that IT HURTS! Even if you do it with the right body position, let alone if you do it wrong. I have, on several occasions, been asked if I needed a “safe space” because on any given day I am covered in bruises from circus practice. Aerial hoop is particularly unforgiving. There’s an old saying that if a circus performer wakes up and they aren’t sore, then it means they’re dead. This is my life. Practicing these crazy tricks everyday makes you sore, bruised, and occasionally worse.
When you think of meditation, you don’t normally think about how much it will hurt. Try sitting in the same position for 30 minutes with crossed legs and see if you still have full blood circulation in your legs. Much like acrobalance, you need to have perfect posture and stack your weight correctly on your skeletal structure. Your body is otherwise forced to do much more work to hold your position for any length of time. Here’s that catch again, you have to do it without thinking about it. You can often tell your thoughts have started drifting if your posture starts to slag. Handstands and meditation are all about balance and it takes practice to find that. Once you do, though, it feels natural, like you should never have done it any other way.

Circus is about freedom and trusting yourself, as well as frustration, bruises, and calluses. Overthinking is a symptom of fear. You get so preoccupied with trying to get everything perfect or to not get hurt, that it just fails. The idea of what it should be overtakes the feeling of how it is. Don’t be afraid to get it wrong. Just pick yourself back up and do it again. If you fall 7 times stand up 8. You just need to let go, stop thinking, and start trusting. In that moment where you can feel it without your mind getting in the way, there’s freedom. It feels like going back to being a kid spinning in circles or it feels like you can fly. That’s the joy I chase. It’s the reason I perform and it’s the reason I teach. I help others overcome their fears and to trust themselves, to see they are capable of doing more than they ever thought possible.

Plenty of people have told me over the years that they could never juggle or do aerial. They think they aren’t coordinated enough or strong enough, as though these are things you have and not things that are developed. Kids ask me how I do it, as though there’s a magic button or a trick that makes it work. They say that about meditation too. What I really think they mean is, “I’m not willing to spend the time to get good at that”. Which is fine – you don’t have to meditate, juggle, or any of that. What most people don’t seem to understand after watching me perform, though, is that I have probably dropped more than most people will ever pick up. It never gets easier, you just get better. It is easy for me now, like shifting into autopilot, but what got me there was a stupid kind of stubbornness. It’s easy to want instant success and gratification, but as a circus performer, I settle for incremental improvement. Over time I get a little stronger, a little more flexible, a little better. With steady practice, it sneaks up on you until you look at past video of yourself and you realize how far you’ve come. As they say in Zen, if you walk through the fog long enough you’ll get wet. Some days I hit really hard tricks or new milestones and there’s much joy and happy dancing. Most days I feel like I’m tearing down a wall with a toothpick. But everyday I pick up that stupid toothpick and get to work because that wall isn’t going to tear itself down.

How do I stay motivated? I don’t. Motivation gets you started, but motivation is a fickle bitch. What you really need is discipline and repetition. Get in the habit of meditating, working out, or going to practice. Some days it is fun and easy, but not all days. Some days I’m tired, my leg hurts, there are a million other things that need to be done. I still practice. You decide what you give your time to during the day and those decisions show your priorities. Get to bed earlier, so you can get up in the morning and get your practice in. It sounds simple but I struggle with it. I mean, have you seen how many cute cat videos are on the internet?!

We often think there are right and wrong ways to do things, but both Zen and circus have taught me there is no wrong way. There’s no step you can take that isn’t a step on your path. You can run towards the horizon forever until you realize that you are already where the earth meets the sky. One of my favorite things about the arts is that you learn the rules so that you can break them better. Always point your toes? Not if your character is creepy. Always keep hold of your apparatus? Not if you’re doing catch and release moves. Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely safer and easier ways to do things. Circus is often taught as though these ways are the right ways. Once you’ve mastered the skill and know how it’s supposed to feel, though, you can do it “wrong” intentionally. It’s not about following the designated rules, it’s about what you want to convey to the audience and how you want to spend your time. “Right” and “wrong” are perceptions.

Zen is in everything and since I’ve spent so much of my life in circus, it’s easy for me to see Zen in circus even if they seem like completely different things. Circus performing involves much more glitter and is a bit flashier. Zen mediation is much quieter with far less bruising. Both are where I find peace. There’s so much more to circus than the performance and there’s so much more to Zen than staring at a wall. And at the end of both, we bow to show our gratitude.

Cirque Bon Appetit is Coming May 27th!

Cirque Bon Appétit is part circus, part dinner theatre, and always entertaining! It’s a night out unlike anything another. As you feast on a several course meal you will be entertained by cirque, comedy, and cabaret artists from across the country!

Your evening begins with cocktail hour, where guests are served cocktails by beautiful aerial artist. Then patrons will head to their tables, where the dinner, provided by Taste!, will be served along with an unforgettable show! Enjoy popcorn crusted chicken served in red & white striped bags, laid on a plate garnished with fresh popcorn as well as red & white striped pasta tossed in a light spring sauce and garnished with an arugula salad. Then nibble on Chocolate Brownie & Raspberry Coulis garnished with a swirl of cotton candy for dessert.

We are selling out fast, so be sure to buy your tickets soon!
http://www.cirquebonappetit.com/

7 Things I Wish I Had Known Before Becoming a Professional Performer

7 Things I Wish I Had Known About the Business of Becoming a Professional Performer

I have learned something from each and every gig I have had. Sometimes it’s something I should do more of, and sometimes it’s something I need to change for the next one. I could write several books on how to make it as a performer, but for this article I’m going to share with you the top 7 lessons I’ve learned. My hope is that if you’re looking into becoming a professional performer you’ll read this and avoid some of the common pitfalls that are out there. If you’re willing to put the work in, performing can be extremely rewarding, but you need to work smart as well as hard. So get off of Facebook, stop watching YouTube videos, and start getting your act together.

Most of what you do as a professional has nothing to do with performing. When I first became a professional performer I thought it would enable me to juggle and hang around on aerial all the time! Truth is most of what I do all day is marketing, contacting clients, and all kinds of other work that lands me in front of my computer. There’s still juggling-I practice every day and have shows, but the time spent leading up to those shows far exceeds the time spent on stage. And that’s just how it is.

It’s not about you
It’s not about the awards you’ve won or how many balls you can juggle, or how many tricks you can do. What your client really cares about is what you can do for them. This should be reflected in everything from how you speak to clients and what you write on your promotional materials to your website wording. Put yourself in your clients place. What would you want? What kind of fears would you have about hiring a performer? When you are writing any kind of promotional script, imagine your client asking “So what?”, “Why does that matter to me?” When you seek to fulfill other people’s dreams, it will help you fulfill yours.

Let the IRS help you, not hose you
Keep good records of what you make and what you spend on your business. You don’t want the IRS to come knocking on your door with no proof of where your money has gone. Uncle Sam will help you with your business expenses. Set up a bank account for your business and always put the money you earn into it and use it to pay for business expenses. Your props, the food you eat on the road, hotel stays, costumes, this all comes out of one account and that makes it much easier when April comes around. Find yourself a good accountant, because as a performer, chances are your taxes will be complicated. I file in EVERY state I perform in and my taxes are often over 100 pages. I also recommend using a program such as Quickbooks to keep your records. Update your records every week throughout the year and your taxes will be a breeze. It’s also a great tool to help create and track financial goals. Speaking of which…

Make goals, don’t just dream
A goal is a dream with a time limit. We’ve just started a new year. Have you made any resolutions? Take a really hard look at every aspect of your business and make goals that are SMART: Specific, Meaningful, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. An example of a smart goal would be getting at least one show every month in 2015. It’s a specific number of shows, it’s meaningful to the business, it’s attainable if you work hard, it is relevant to your larger goals, and it has a time limit. Write your goals down and tell everyone that will listen to you what they are. This will help keep you accountable.

GET IT IN WRITING
This is worth repeating. Get it in writing. GET IT IN WRITING! If you take only one thing away from reading this article be sure this is the one. Make sure you have a contract that covers all of your needs and all of the clients’ promises. They could tell you that they will give you a pony that poops gold after the show, but if you don’t put that in writing, with both of your signatures, then chances are you’ll be walking home without that pony. Contact a lawyer to take a look at your contract or even write it for you. Make sure your contract covers what happens if the client cancels, as well as when, where, and how the performance is supposed to happen. Your contract can never be too specific. Think about everything you need for your show to happen. Do you bring up volunteers? Make sure that if the stage is too high that there are stairs. I have had to put things in my tech rider that I never thought I would have to- like access to a bathroom!

Just Do It!
Fear is huge, it’s debilitating, and it robs you of new experiences and joys. It’s that voice that says you’re not good enough, this isn’t the right time, wouldn’t you rather stay in your comfort zone? That’s all bullsh#t. Go out there and just do it! Do whatever it is that you’ve been wanting to do. The worst case scenario is never as bad as you imagine it to be. I try to do something every day that scares me. After awhile, it just doesn’t seem so risky. I’ll be honest, I get scared every time I do a show, or even just calling up a potential client, but I would be so mad at myself if I let my fear get in the way of doing something that I love so much. I have no real answer to overcoming fear, you just have to go out there and do it despite feeling afraid.

You don’t have to do it alone
If you’re not a web designer, don’t put up your own website. If you’re not a lawyer, don’t write your contract alone. I have a whole list of people from comedy writers, to costume designers, prop makers, virtual assistants, and graphic designers helping me with my business. I’m not alone. If I’m not good at something in my business or if I just don’t want to do it, I pass it on to someone whom I know can do it much better. At the beginning I did everything myself and when I started to outsource it changed everything. I get more accomplished faster and better than when I did it all myself.

There are also programs out there designed to help out new artists and performers. They are just a Google search away. Here are a couple of my favorites:

www.springboardforthearts.org/
www.kickstarter.com/
www.getmorecorporategigs.com/

Also, most performers I know are more than willing to give advice so don’t be afraid to ask. Don’t wait- make a list of specific questions and reach out to another performer for some great free advice.

Obviously, there are plenty more tips to be given. What are some of your tips? What is something you’ve been wondering about becoming a professional performer? Leave a comment below!

New Aerial and Circus Classes at the Des Moines Social Club

Have you ever wanted to be more awesome? We can help you with that! Iowa Circus Academy is THE place for learning circus arts.

Our next section of classes are starting this week at the Des Moines Social Club. Click here for more information and to sign up!
http://desmoinessocialclub.org/events/categories/circus/

Everything Circus
Thursdays 10/30 – 11/13 • 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm$40 for 3-week session, $15 drop-in

Want to learn amazing new skills and invigorate your fitness routine? Perfect for adults of all ages and fitness levels. Circus is a great way to improve body balance, strength, flexibility, and coordination. Your body AND mind will get a work out! We will explore several varieties of circus props and apparatus from juggling, to hula hooping, acrobatics and even aerial arts! This is great way to learn a little bit of everything circus. No experience is necessary, simply a curiosity for all things circus. Classes are individualized to your needs and strengths. Come and learn circus arts right here in Des Moines from a real full-time circus performer.
$40 for 3-week session, $15 drop-in
http://desmoinessocialclub.org/events/everything-circus-3-2014-10-30/

Aerial Fabrics Class
Thursdays 10/30 – 11/13; Wednesdays 12/3 – 12/17 • 7:45 pm – 9:15 pm

Aerial fabric for beginners introduces you to a whole new way to increase strength, grace, and flexibility. While climbing the fabric you’ll learn amazing ways to move your body into beautiful poses and shapes. It’s a fun new way to stay fit and learn something amazing. Don’t worry if you’re afraid of heights, skills are taught only a few inches from the ground and are customized for your skill and strength level.
Two 3-week sessions: $55 for 3-week session, $20 drop-in
http://desmoinessocialclub.org/events/aerial-fabrics-class-2014-10-30/

Aerial Hoop Class
Wednesdays 10/29 – 11/12; Thursdays 12/4 – 12/18 • 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm

Explore how aerial movements translate to a round shape with the Aerial Hoop, otherwise known as Lyra, giving you the opportunity to perform graceful tricks, spins, and swings! Beginning with the basic skills, this class will build your strength, showcase flexibility, all while you’re learning flipping, turning, rolling, posing, and transitioning positions on this beautiful aerial apparatus.
Two 3-week sessions: $55 for 3-week session, $20 drop-in
http://desmoinessocialclub.org/events/aerial-hoop-class-2014-10-29/

Aerial Hammock
Wednesdays 10/29 – 11/12; Thursdays 12/4 – 12/18 • 7:45 pm – 9:15 pm

Defy gravity in this beginner aerial class where we will utilize a fabric aerial hammock, also known as aerial sling, to increase stability and agility, flexibility, and achieve weightlessness. You won’t be napping in this class, but rather will be creating striking shapes, tricks, flips, and transitions on this gentile apparatus. No experience necessary, every class is customized for your skill level.
Two 3-week sessions: $55 for 3-week session, $20 drop-in
http://desmoinessocialclub.org/events/aerial-hammock-2014-10-29/

All Aerial
Sundays 11/2 – 12/7 • 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm

Want to learn how to fly through the air? This class is a great way to try out all things aerial. From the trapeze, to the aerial hoop and aerial fabric, there’s no better way to have fun, get fit, and improve your coordination. No experience is necessary, simply a curiosity for all things aerial. Classes are individualized to your needs and strengths.
$100 for 6-week session, $20 drop-in
http://desmoinessocialclub.org/events/all-aerial-6-2014-11-09/

Circus Circuit
Mondays 11/24 – 12/15 • 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm

Do you ever wish that you could move like the dancers from Cirque du Soleil? Being able to spin, flip, and balance your way through the air takes a tremendous amount of strength, balance, and flexibility — but it’s a ton of fun, too! Circus Circuit is a 60 minute conditioning class that will give you the sensation of flying while strengthening and lengthening your body through aerial acrobatics, body resistance, and strength, balance & core training. You will learn circus skills like, Trapeze, Aerial Silks, and Hand-balancing while you enjoy a fun and exciting way to get in shape and maintain strength, flexibility and coordination! Circus Circuit is a fun-filled experience for men and women of all fitness level.
$35 for 4-week session or $10 drop-in
http://desmoinessocialclub.org/events/circus-circuit-2014-11-24/

Pandora’s Circus Coming this Fall!

Pandora’s Circus will officially be at the Coralville Center for the Performing Arts November 21-23. Tickets will be going on sale soon, so save the date. www.coralvillearts.org

Awesome Stilt Acro Teaser for Pandora’s Circus

Pandora’s Circus rehearsals are up and running as we prepare for the fall run of shows! We’ve got an amazing cast and crew. I’m so excited to share this production with the world. Its been a dream of mine for years to do a Cirque-Style Theater Show and that dream is about to become a reality!

The music in the video is from the awesome, Alex Fulton. He will be composing the full show and we are so lucky to have found him. Seriously, this guy has mad music skills. Find out more about Alex on his website- alexfultonaudio.com.

The Iowa Circus Academy is in Full Swing!


The Iowa Circus Academy has had a great turn out for our after-school program in Ankeny and West Des Moines. The kids are really loving the experience. Over the course of the month, students will learn juggling, unicycling, tumbling, acrobatics, and aerial arts. Check out our new ICA Facebook page for class information and pictures! www.facebook.com/iowacircusacademy

Kids can even continuing learning over the summer with week-long summer camps.
June 9th-June 13th: Grades 1-5, Ankeny
June 16th-June 20th: Grades 6-8, Ankeny
June 23rd-June 27th: Grades 1-5 and 6-8 Urbandale

Envy the kids because they get to learn all this fun stuff? We have classes for adults too. Sign up for Everything Circus class at the the Des Moines Social Club, beginning Wednesdays 7:00-8:30pm, May 14th-June 18th.
desmoinessocialclub.org/events/everything-circus-2014-05-14

Then continue the fun in the fall at the Social Club where we will add kids’ circus classes and adult aerial classes.

Kinetic Entertainment is Teaming Up with the AAFA

Aerial Expo 2014
Aerial Expo 2014

The Aerial Arts and Fitness Association is raising funds to make the first ever Aerial Expo a reality! This event will have something for everyone! Competitions, Workshops, Shows, Seminars, and lots of FUN! Please take a moment and check out the various perks we are offering, or join in on the PLANK WAR!!

Instructors, including the Expo producers, have pledged to include an aerial plank, the length of the current donation amount, into all of our aerial classes from now until the Aerial Expo!

From Dream to Reality- Pandora’s Circus

Juggling has changed my life. Almost all of my best memories in life include some kind of juggling in them, mostly because there are few days that go by that I don’t throw something around. Juggling became my gateway drug into other forms of circus, from aerial to hula hooping and of course, more juggling. I remember going to my first juggling festivals and being blown away by all the jugglers there – not just by how good everyone was, but how nice they were. In school I was a dork that no one liked. When I was with other jugglers, I was accepted.

The first time I saw a Cirque show changed everything. It was just a borrowed DVD of Dralion, but watching Victor Kee juggle like that with a combination of contact juggling, dance and blow your mind skills gave me a sense of wonder that changed me forever. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VhuN7vjGjmk) From that day forward, I knew that I wanted to share that feeling of wonder with the world. It’s the idea that, for a window of time, anything is possible and gravity is a rule waiting to be defied.

Fast forward a few years and I still get a thrill out of watching Victor, and now there are several other jugglers and performers that I’ve added to the list of people that inspire me. Some because of how incredibly good they are, some because I am rooting for them to go after their dreams, and some because they are just like family to me.

These last couple months I have started a new, exciting project that I wanted to share and give everyone the opportunity to be a part of it. The idea to do a Cirque-style theater show has been at the back of my mind and throughout my notebooks for years. Now I’m going for it. The goal has always been to inspire people with a show that was not only innovative, but also emotionally touching. From that dream I created Pandora’s Circus, the story of a hero’s journey through the Underworld.

Inspired by Greek mythology, our story follows Pandora, a girl who opens a box full of vengeful spirits that drag her to the Underworld, where she meets curious characters with uncanny skills. Using the lessons they teach her, she tries to escape the Underworld.

Right now we are putting together first production of Pandora’s Circus. And to make this show possible we’ve put up an Indiegogo crowd funding campaign. From $20 – $5,000 or even just sharing the link with your friends, anything is appreciated and everything helps.

I’ve already had many friends give their encouragement. There’s some amazing local Des Moines, Iowa talent lined up for the production, people that I’m so proud and excited to work with. This is your chance to watch the show come together and be part of making it happen. I hope you’ll help and join us on this new adventure!

Click here to see the Indiegogo Campaign
http://igg.me/at/pandorascircus/x/4870270

Click here to see the Pandora’s Circus Website
http://www.pandorascircus.com/

In The News

Hello friends!

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of performing at the Casey Popcorn Festival in Casey, IL. It was the 26th anniversary of the festival, and the local paper did a front page article on my show! You can find the story and some really fun photos here: http://jg-tc.com/news/female-acrobat-s-show-inspires-young-and-old-at-casey/article_0607c3ec-1435-11e3-a48a-0019bb2963f4.html

I had such a great time, and very much enjoyed the wonderful people who came out to see the show. I always love meeting new people and bringing them into my world even if it’s only for a short time. Thanks for checking in with me, more updates coming  your way soon!

International Jugglers Association Festival

Last week I attended the International Jugglers Association Festival in Bowling Green, Ohio. The IJA Festival is a week long extravaganza of 24 hour a day juggling and other object manipulation, and it’s also one of the highlights of my year. There are games, competitions, and shows galore!

One of the competitions was the 2013 Butterfly Man Busking Competition brought to you by iiWii which I was in charge of. For those who don’t know, busking is street performing. Competitors had 30 minutes in which to set up and perform their very best skills & tricks. The winner of the competition was determined by a combination of Busking dollars, tips from audience members, and a three judge panel. Performers were judged on execution, audience interest, creativity, and stage presence. It was a HUGE success!! Gypsy Jeff received first place, Warren Hammond came in second, and Michael Rosman third.

In addition the Busking Competition and other excitement, I taught several workshops. They were very popular and filled up right away. I had a great time teaching them & really appreciated the positive response from everyone at the festival.

Here are my HLGBCS for the week:

High- By far my favorite part of going to festivals is reconnecting with old friends and meeting new ones. There’s no other place in the world where you can be up at 3:30 in the morning and get a group of jugglers to play a crazy game someone just made up. At this festival there was more to try out, like the aerial fabric, the German wheel, and the Gantlet 2, a juggling obstacle course complete with spinning mallets, a hamster wheel, and foam pit. I learned a lot of fun new things from this festival that I’m sure you will see in my shows later.

The shows were amazing, everyone loved the Busking Competition, and my aerial workshops filled up on the very first day of the festival! So pretty much every part of this festival was a high point!

Low- My friends car was towed. It seemed like every other parking lot was a tow zone with a poorly placed and inaccurate sign. So at 2 in the morning we’re walking around Bowling Green trying to find an address that no longer exists! Luckily, another juggler with a car came to save the day!

The police interrupted the Busking competition to tell the performers they could not use fire. What I really didn’t like about this situation was that the plan to use fire in these outdoor shows was written down and talked about in meetings for several months prior to the competition-meetings that the police were a part of. We had all our paperwork filled out for this and hired a fire safety professional for the day, but that didn’t make a difference to them.

Goal- See and catch up with old friends. Check.
Learn something new. Check.
Run a successful Busking competition. Check.
Have a boat load of fun! Check!

Bane- My toe. I dropped a set piece on my toe the day before the festival and it nearly ripped off my toenail. I was limping for half the festival.

Crush- The glow club routine that Jonglissimo performed at the Cascade of Stars show! Ashley Ellis and her masterful baton twirling! Everyone that tried aerial fabric even though they knew it would be hard. The jugglers I meet at these festivals are truly an inspiration to me. If you tried something new, performed, or competed, you are my crush.

Surprise- Lots of things surprised me. The 17 minute classical juggling routine, the amazing Gantlet juggling obstacle course and how fast people could do it, the odd downtown nightlife, Thomas in a tutu, how fast my workshops filled up. One thing that never surprises me- how much fun I had!

It really is such an incredible event and something that I look forward to each year. I’m also looking forward to seeing YOU there next year as well! You can find more information here: http://www.juggle.org/ija/festival/