Contact juggling is a type of object manipulation that focuses on the movement of objects in contact with the body, such as balls. Although it is frequently used in conjunction with toss juggling, it differs in that it involves rolling one or more objects rather than releasing them into the air. But did you know who did the juggling for David Bowie’s scene in the film Labyrinth?
The juggling performed by David Bowie’s character in Labyrinth was done by juggler Michael Moschen. He had to perform all of the tricks blind while standing behind Bowie. Moschen received a MacArthur Fellowship “Genius Grant” for his techniques.
The History of Contact Juggling
Many of the methods used in contact juggling have been practiced for generations, such as balancing or rolling a single ball or palm spinning. Vaudevillians like Paul Cinquevalli introduced more varieties. Tony Duncan, an American juggler, was said to be enthralling audiences in 1986 with an act that entailed rolling a single ball all over his body. (Souce: International Jugglers’ Association)
Who Popularized the Technique of Contact Juggling?
Michael Moschen was the primary figure responsible for the popularization of contact juggling through his show Light which debuted in the 1980s. He used eight balls at the same time to perform the act that became known as contact juggling. (Source: The Fact Site)
What are the Different Types of Contact Juggling Techniques?
While contact juggling is a type of juggling itself, it is further subcategorized into four moves:
Body rolling is the act of revolving one or more props around one’s hands, arms, and other body parts. For this technique, balance is required to keep the ball in various control positions. This includes tricks like head rolling and the butterfly, in which the ball is rolled from the palm to the back of the hand using the fingertips.
The head roll is a juggling trick in which an object or prop, typically a ball, is rolled around on the juggler’s head. The most common version involves rolling a ball across the forehead from temple to temple. The object may be balanced in place at a specific location on the head at some points during the trick. The temple, the center of the forehead, the back of the neck, the eye socket, the mouth, and the most difficult; the top of the head were all possible locations for the prop to be balanced.
Palm spinning is the act of moving one or more balls in the open hand so that at least one of them is in motion. Balls can be held in both hands or transferred between hands to create graceful and fluid patterns, such as rotating a pyramid of four or five balls in one hand.
The manipulation of a ball so that it appears to be suspended in place is referred to as isolation. The performers use the clear surface of the ball to hide any noticeable rotation, creating the illusion that the ball is still while the performer moves around it, similar to sleight-of-hand techniques in magic or fixed-point mime techniques.
(Source: Oddle Entertainment Agency)