Circus News

 Announcing The International Jugglers’ Association Award Honorees of 2021

Every year since 1947, the International Jugglers’ Association (IJA) has been uniting jugglers around the world with events, awards and these days relevant content from the juggling world to the digital world. But the most beloved event they host is the annual IJA Festival. This year, hosting their 2nd digital/remote festival, they presented some special awards to recognized leaders and educators in the community. CircusTalk would like to congratulate the recipients of the awards! 
Afton Benson sits in a chair in a suit and looks at the camera
Afton Benson, Treasurer and Co-Director of the 2021 IJA Festival

Afton Benson, Treasurer and Co-Director of the 2021 IJA Festival told us a little about Honorary Awards, “All are selected by an Awards Committee who meets and takes nominations from our members. There are three awards that are not selected by the committee, the Sammi Vance Award, the Flamingo Club Award and the Sky King Award. These are separate groups of jugglers in the community and IJA members who are intertwined within the communities the award focuses on. I am personally involved in the Flamingo Club Award.”

We spoke to Benson about how exciting it was to see that IJA has expanded the awards recently to recognize a wider swath of the juggling community.

Kim Campbell: Can you explain a little about some of the awards and how the awards committee identifies candidates?

Afton Benson: The Flamingo Club was established in 1987, and the first official award was presented in 1996 to an outstanding young female juggler. The award winner was presented with a gift of new juggling props to inspire her to continue practicing, to continue the art form, and to encourage other girls to start juggling. This year, with an increase in discussion around women in juggling, we wanted to broaden our reach and our ability to highlight a female-identifying or non-binary person who has shown outstanding support, inspirational skill, or exceptional promotion of juggling. 

This year, the IJA officially made The Flamingo Club and The Flamingo Club Award part of the IJA. The Flamingo Club Award selection process is to accept nominations, then a group of women and non-binary persons, ranging in age from teens to 70+, varying from professional jugglers, hobbyists, educators, business professionals, and beyond, discuss the merits of each nominee. Club members speak about the nominees and how they help at their local juggling club or describe acts of service they’ve seen them do online, and then we vote on who the honoree will be. 

The year’s winner is Lucy Eden who is an outstanding honoree for the Flamingo Club award, for her volunteer work at the Groundhogs Day Juggling Festival and the Atlanta Juggling Club, where she teaches new and up-and-coming jugglers how to juggle and unicycle. She also is an extremely strong advocate in the online juggling community, ensuring equity for women and the queer community. 

The Sky King award was established this year (2021) by Paris, who is known nationally and internationally as the Hip Hop Juggler. This award is in recognition of a BIPOC member of the juggling community who has shown outstanding dedication to furthering diversity and equity in the juggling community. The award was presented to Sky King, herself, in recognition of a lifetime of working to increase diversity and equity throughout the juggling community. 

We applaud Sky King for her work teaching hundreds of youths in Harlem, NY how to juggle,  bringing youths to the International Jugglers’ Association (IJA) Festival, and as Paris aptly said in his awards speech, “the kids got to see, if a juggler could look like Sky, then a juggler could look like me.” 

The IJA is committed to ensuring equity within the juggling community and Sky King will serve on the committee that awards future Sky King awards.

Sky King is truly an outstanding example for everyone in the juggling community, on how to be welcoming and how to help grow the community. Her passion, willingness to listen and warm attitude is contagious and I’m grateful that the IJA has decided to begin recognizing more individuals and their contributions to the community.

The IJA is committed to ensuring equity within the juggling community and Sky King will serve on the committee that awards future Sky King awards. Their awards selection will be to accept nominations for the award, review those nominees, discuss, and select an honoree. 


The Honorees

Alan Howard juggling in a purple polo
Alan Howard
Honorary Life Members

“In recognition of demonstrated long-term service and commitment to the IJA.”

2021 Recipient: Alan Howard

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Lucy Eden juggles clubs in costume
Lucy Eden
Flamingo Club Award 

“Highlighting a female-identifying or non-binary person who has shown outstanding support, inspirational skill, or exceptional promotion of juggling.” 

2021 Recipient: Lucy Eden

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David Pavlove Cunsolo balances two balls on his finger
David Pavlove Cunsolo
IJA Sammie Vance Youth Civic Achievement Award 

“In recognition of the national or international impact of civic contributions by a person 18 years old or younger.”

2021 Recipient: David Pavlove Cunsolo

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Thom Wall balances a dinner tray over his head in a suit
Thom Wall

Excellence in Education Award

“In recognition of outstanding efforts to teach juggling to non-jugglers and expand the knowledge of those who already juggle.”

2021 Recipient: Thom Wall 

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Taylor Glenn looks into the camera
Taylor Glenn
IJA Extraordinary Service Award

“In recognition of a consistent commitment to provide outstanding support and promotion for the field of juggling.”

2021 Recipient: Taylor Glenn

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Chrys Holt juggles clubs while suspended from his hair
Chrys Holt
Historical Achievement Award 

“In recognition of a lifetime of influential work and extraordinary achievement in juggling performance.”

2021 Recipient: Chrys Holt

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Alan Sulc juggles balls against a platform on stage
Alan Sulc
IJA Award of Excellence 

“In recognition of excellence in the art of juggling through professional performance.”

2021 Recipient: Alan Sulc

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Sky King wears headphones and smiles into the camera
Sky King
Sky King Award 

“In recognition of a BIPOC member of the juggling community who has shown outstanding dedication to furthering diversity and equity in the juggling community.”

2021 Recipient: Sky King

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A photo of Them Wall's award next to an American flag
Thom Wall’s home display of his award, including two flags he received from US senators who flew the flags in his honor upon hearing of his “Excellence in Education Award” from IJA.

Again, we offer our hardy congratulations to the award recipients and thank them for their service to the juggling community and to IJA.

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Featured image of Sky King, recipient of the IJA Sky King Award. All photos provided courtesy of Afton Bensen and Thom Wall.

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Kim Campbell
Chief Content Officer, Editor-in-Chief -USA
Kim Campbell is the chief content officer of CircusTalk and the editor-in-chief of CircusTalk News. They have written about circus for Spectacle magazine, Circus Now, Circus Promoters and were a resident for Circus Stories, Le Cirque Vu Par with En Piste in 2015 at the Montreal Completement Cirque Festival. They are the former editor of American Circus Educators magazine, as well as a staff writer for the web publication Third Coast Review, where they write about circus, theatre, arts and culture. Kim is a member of the American Theater Critics Association.
In 2019 as the editor for CircusTalk News, Kim was on the jury at el Festival Iberoamericano de Circo (FIRCO) and presented the first CircusTalk Critic's Choice Award. In 2021, Kim was on the voting committee for the International Circus Awards.

Kim Campbell

Kim Campbell is the chief content officer of CircusTalk and the editor-in-chief of CircusTalk News. They have written about circus for Spectacle magazine, Circus Now, Circus Promoters and were a resident for Circus Stories, Le Cirque Vu Par with En Piste in 2015 at the Montreal Completement Cirque Festival. They are the former editor of American Circus Educators magazine, as well as a staff writer for the web publication Third Coast Review, where they write about circus, theatre, arts and culture. Kim is a member of the American Theater Critics Association. In 2019 as the editor for CircusTalk News, Kim was on the jury at el Festival Iberoamericano de Circo (FIRCO) and presented the first CircusTalk Critic's Choice Award. In 2021, Kim was on the voting committee for the International Circus Awards.