I was  at the last British Juggling Convention (teaching dance workshops this time; nothing to do with magic). But I got to thinking. I always have a great time at these events, and enjoy seeing the skill and dedication on display.

But there seem to be two types of jugglers these days. Pro’s and hobbyists, you might say, but it’s not as simple as that. And the difference certainly isn’t based on skill. There’s a term used in juggling circles these days: sports juggling. Mmmm, part of me wants to say, juggling is, or should be, entertainment. It comes from a long and hallowed tradition of circus and variety/vaudeville. Sport is about running around in circles, kicking balls, or some combination thereof. Mind you, a bit of club passing or some nifty diabolo work wouldn’t half liven up the Olympics…

OK, I probably being too harsh. If someone wants to chuck things around as a form of exercise that’s fine. The problem is when they do it on stage and expect it to be mistaken for entertainment. Fine, you can juggle nine balls while hardly ever dropping one. That’s clever and I will admire the skill. For several seconds. But you haven’t got an act, even with sequins and a blue spotlight. There has to be more… let’s hear it for fewer balls and more theatre?

So have we got a new genre developing… ‘sports’ magic’? I hope not as this would be even lower down the entertainment scale than sports juggling, as often there isn’t even the skill to admire.

If you wish to indulge your desire to do tricks, without any thought of structure, narrative and all the other stuff that should go with it, that’s OK (through gritted teeth). But please don’t inflict on anyone other than members of your immediate family, who hopefully will love you enough to indulge you for a little while, while hinting that you may profitably spend a little time discovering where your true talents lie.

Magic is first and foremost a form of theatre, whether your stage is the street, a table top, or the kind that comes with a proscenium arch and red velvet curtains. And the magic is in the theatre, and in you, never in the trick.

OK. Rant over. (And I haven’t even mentioned ‘street magic’!) But what do you think?

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