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British Juggling Convention 2011 – Nottingham

DATE: 15-21 April 2011

LOCATION: Harvey Hadden Sports Stadium, Nottingham

I thankfully managed to fit in an all day gig at a Primary School on my way to the Convention which meant that I arrived exhausted (but with some spending money for the week) at the 5pm opening time for the Campsite! I set up tent beside the Milton Keynes and Corby campers.

This Convention is a rarity in that it was held in this location a few years ago. The Previous Nottingham BJC was the only one in the past 10yrs that I had missed, so it was still new to me, but it did mean that the Organisers already knew what worked well and what needed adapted this time to make jugglers experiences even better.
The Convention was also rare in the sense that it started on a Friday and ended on a Thursday, thus meaning that the Public Show and Games happened just 2 days into the Convention. This seemed to work rather well as you could be inspired by the show and then have the rest of the week to practice your tricks!


Good representation of Jugglers from my fellow Scotsmen and Women this year including Miles and Ciorstaidh, Sarah Biskup, Allen Goldie, Captain Duncan and Avril, George the Juggler, Donald Grant, James Couper, Ruth Elliot & a rare visit from Gordon Riddoch!
The Convention also hosted the British Kendama Championships, British Balloon Modelling Convention and the Ladybird Project who ran loads of children’s workshops to keep the young ones entertained all week.

RENEGADES: I didn’t attend many of them as I was quite happy to practice my skills in the main 24hr hall or chat to jugglers in the Cantina area. The ones I did attend seemed to go well when the sound-desk was working properly. Laura (hoola-hoop girl) hosted the opening night which saw someone doing 4 diabolo’s on a string, and George the Juggler skipping while doing 2 diabolo’s! Another Renegade I saw was Compered by Donald Grant.

Games:
Held on a very bright and sunny afternoon at the wonderful location of Nottingham Castle. Tim Wooliscroft did a great job warming up the crowds with his street act. Pete and Russell did a great job hosting the games. I decided to sit out competing this year in order to film all the games for my YouTube Channel, so you can see around 18 clips there with my commentary on them, and if you need further descriptions try my Juggling Games page. New games this year included Unicorn Gladiators (using a Kendama), Poi cross and follow into a bucket, and fastest Diabolo along a long rope. Not sure that dual devilstick propellers should be allowed in the 3 Club Gladiators (as Marcus went on to win it easily), and quite a few people were disappointed that there wasn’t any club balance on head games, but other than that, it went very smoothly and the crowds loved it!

Public Show – Defying Gravity (the Greatest Show Off Earth):

This took place at the Theatre Royal & Royal Concert Hall in Nottingham City Centre on the Sunday night. Compere was the excellent Matt Hall (and his minions)!

Juggling Inferno very rare to have a fire show inside a Theatre so this was pleasing to watch! They started off both halves of the show with fireworks, fire staff and fire hoops.
Stefan Sing He also appeared twice. Very fluid ball juggling in the first half and a jaw dropping routine with a ballerina/mannequin (Cristiania) in the second half which was out of this world.
Eric Longequel excellent diabolo skills
Inside Loop (Arron Sparks & Sam Veale) A funny yo-yo routine which good banter.
Wes Peden this guy just gets better and better!
Francois Bouille (planks and clubs) My favourite act of the night. He did experiments, speaking in broken English and was just mesmerising. Very original act. Later in the week, he did a longer version of the show in the Renegade area which was awesome!
Jay Gilligan
(Rings on Strings)
. He juggled with 3 different sizes of rings. No idea why he needed a step-ladder on stage, other than just to sit his Ipod on, but that’s the beauty of a Jay Gilligan routine in that it can leave you sometimes with more questions than answers!
Jonglissimo awesome Juggling computer (glow clubs) act. Highly original in the use of one juggler as a Computer being programmed to juggle, and they ended with a 12 club passing routine which really pleased the audience!
Cirqulation Locale they performed their second life show which involved trampolining and club passing. An excellent finale.

One of the best Public Shows I have seen at the BJC.


BYJOTY (British Young Juggler of the Year)

This show took a while to start as someone leaned against the fire alarm and we all had to head outside until the Fire Brigade assessed what had happened! This did mean that we were treated to an impromptu Rock, Scissors, Paper game featuring Matt Hall and Tom Derrick! Arron Sparks did a good job compering. There were 13 Acts. I voted for the first act who was a very fluid and skilful ball juggler. Folkert Erkelens won the Competition but Thomas Senior (glitzy ball bounce juggler) was certainly the judges favourite and asked to appear at many of the local Conventions throughout the next year!
The Best Trick Competition held afterwards was won by someone doing a 5 ball mills mess (you can see the whole Best Trick competition in the video clip below)!

Powercut: While we were at the BYJOTY Competition, it was announced that there had been a powercut and the Sports Centre had no power. It was not fixed until around 8am the following morning and everyone was evicted from the main Sports area even though they had just went out to grab their glow props so they could continue practicing indoors! The Sports track outside was floodlit and people just stayed outside most of the night practicing instead!


Torwood Wheelers Show: I don’t think that they are used to putting on a show for Jugglers, and they weren’t miked up for it so it was very difficult to hear what they were saying, but their skills were amazing and it was well worth seeing!
Circus Schools Show: This was on the Saturday night and showcased some up and coming students from Circomedia. Some good acts, a couple of really good acts, but I don’t think we need the intro bits between acts (a couple of them were really good, but I think that just simply announcing the next act or having a compere would have worked far better).

Childrens Renegade: I sat with Dave Jellybean in the Ladybird Tent & was inspired by the confidence in these really young performers who walked on Globes, unicycled, played musical instruments etc while getting tons of encouragement and applause from the crowd. I am sure that some of these kids could go on to become great entertainers, and this is a very useful starting block for them to gain confidence and performance skills.


Workshops I Attended
Factory Moves (Matt Hall) Awesome workshop by the legendary Matt Hall. I learned several new moves such as upside-down machine. The upside-down Shower will take a while to perfect though!
Kendama
(Matt Hall)
Good refresher session for going through the beginners tricks once again. Need to remember to use my knees more than my arms to master this prop!
Charlie Dancey Talk The author of Encyclopaedia of Ball Juggling, Compendium of Club Juggling and How to Ride a Unicycle (all available in my excellent Jugglingworld store) gave a talk in the Ladybird Tent about his new book which is called “Every Trick in the Book”. I then got a signed copy afterwards!
Cigar Box Moves (Matt Hall) My favourite workshop at this Convention and it inspired me to spend the rest of the week practicing lots of new tricks. All the tricks do seem achievable with the right amount of practice, so watch this space!
Beginners Yo-yo Masterclass (Arron Sparks) I have never been able to yo-yo well before, which is amazing considering I am the author of a Yo-yo Book (available here)! Arron taught me the basics and got me on the road to further skills.
Beatbox (Vid Warren) Excellent session in the Ladybird Tent where we found out a lot about the history of beat boxing and then got to learn some of the basic skills. It is a very difficult skill to master, but at least we can appreciate it even more now when we see someone do it!
Slow Motion A workshop teaching us how to move in slow motion. Something a bit different to learn, and it seemed to work well, although I have no idea how I would use this skill in juggling where the props will still move at the same (fast) speed!
Using Comedy in Juggling (Haggis and Charlie) Excellent and funny session where they went through their infamous club passing routine and explained why the jokes worked and how they came up with the routine which is still evolving with new ad libs today!

HighLowCrushGoalBane (HLCGB)

High:

  • The weather. This may be the first BJC which hasn’t had any rain!
  • 24hr Hall – perfect size for everyone!

Low: The powercut on the Monday night meant that BJC’s Got Talent didn’t happen (unless it did and I was unaware of it, in which case this would still be a low point!)
Crush: Matt Hall for once again heading across the big Pond to run countless workshops and enthuse me in Cigar Box Manipulation once again!
Goals:

  • To gain an enthusiasm for regularly practicing juggling
  • To catch up with lots of friends I haven’t seen in ages
  • To brush up on some lesser skills (Cigar Box, Yo-yo etc)

Bane:

  • Having to turn down several gigs which clashed with this Convention, when the rest of April was quiet for me!
  • The alien theme. I could never remember the names of the Workshop rooms “dark matter”, “borg cube” etc so I frequently had to consult the BJC Map!

Well done to all the organisers! Looking forward to the next convention already (BJC #25 in Southend from 11-15 April 2012)!

 

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