Pearls of Juggling is a labor of love kind of book (and blog) written by Anthony Trahair. The book was published by crowd-funding for the benefit of all levels of juggler. With the help of rich illustrations provided by multiple artists, Trahair, a juggler and yoga aficionado turned physical theater actor, has combined all of these movement based philosophies in to one big world view with juggling at its core.
Pearls of Juggling covers everything juggling related from brain enhancing benefits (emotional and philosophical aspects), to the physics and practical tools required. What is unique about the book is that although it is a pragmatic tool for a juggler (advising on stretches, training schedules and techniques, act creation, etc.) it is also an inspirational tool that delves deeply into all aspects of juggling—how to address the psychological aspect of drops, how to stay motivated and engaged, and how to progress from hobbyist to performer.
Musicality, sequences, routines, performances, each aspect of learning to juggle and perform is laid out in a straight forward, yet brutally honest manner, without losing the hippy flow arts joy of someone who loves movement. Of great importance–Trahair gives advice about how to retain the joy of juggling as you progress. One tip he espouses–don’t be a know-it-all. Remain open, let the control freak go, etc. He doesn’t just advise, he also gives examples of traps we all fall in to with training routines, and methods to avoid those traps. There is so much practical advice about creativity alone that could benefit every juggling student. Trahair also explores the benefits of keeping a logbook, researching what has already been done, how to avoid injury with warm ups, how to improve your juggling with posture. There are listicles galore, and games to explore movement.
One conspicuous absence is the lack of actual juggling tricks or site swap patterns. But Trahair is aware of the powers of Youtube and other visual medium and juggling clubs for teaching the actual techniques. He knows no printed matter could ever convey the specifics of how to juggle quite like an in-person coach could too. Instead, Trahair explores every unsung and under-explained nook and cranny of juggling–how to put together a sequence, how to improvise, what constitutes a show, when is an act too long, how to perform with lights in your face, where to perform, the importance of Youtube videos for juggler inspiration, and the thrills of street juggling.
Underneath all of the useful advice is some heady stuff that amounts to having a virtual coach. This book would be a good tool for a juggling coach to use with students, citing movement quality exercises like juggling with animal qualities, juggling with emotion, using the Laban method, incorporating contact improv, how to involve acting, comedy, addressing group work, etc. Thanks to crowd-funding, this juggling pearl is a resource that can benefit every level of juggler.
Feature photo courtesy of Stefani Jane Marino