New Victory Arts Break – Juggling Week

Welcome to Week 5 of New Victory Arts Break! Guided by New Victory Teaching Artists, Arts Break is a curriculum designed for the millions of families stuck at home to incorporate the performing arts into their homeschool learning. Show or no show, our nonprofit is committed to bringing the performing arts to the widest possible audience, and inspiring you to make art, and make memories, together!

Levitation may have eluded you during Magic Week, but this week you have a chance to fight off gravity in a wholly different art form—juggling!

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Introduction to Juggling

25 – 30 minutes, Ages 6 – 11

Juggling takes coordination, concentration and plenty of practice. When you’re first starting out, it can help to juggle with a friend! Follow along with New Victory Teaching Artist Hassiem Muhammad to learn some basic partner juggling.

Modification for younger kids: If it’s too tricky with a partner, or if the learning curve feels too steep, try following along with this video from kids at Holly Ridge Elementary. They start with one, then two scarves, before moving on to one and two balls—a nice and easy pace.

Did you know?

Juggling has been around for at least 4000 years, since the days of Ancient Egypt. This wall painting was discovered in the tomb of Baqet III, a local government official during the 21st century BC!

Juggling Egyptians

Jugglers are also depicted in ancient art from India, China and parts of Europe, performing some of the same tricks that we see jugglers perform today. We invite you to create your own amazing juggling trick and draw a picture, just like that inspired artist in Egypt did 4000 years ago.

Juggling Egyptians Illustration

Share your juggling drawing with us! Tag on Instagram @newvictorytheater and we’ll post it in our story.


Scarf Juggling

20 – 25 minutes, Ages 6 – 11

Yesterday you started off by juggling with a partner, but now it’s time to go it alone. Follow along with the video below to learn the basics of solo scarf juggling from New Victory Teaching Artist WT McRae. Don’t have these kinds of scarves at home? That’s okay! Try substituting a napkin, a tissue, or a scrap of lightweight fabric like tulle.

Try out these different lightweight objects and materials around your house. Which work best? Which fall fastest? Do you have a favorite?

  • Pillowcases
  • Paper towels
  • Dinner napkins
  • Handkerchiefs
  • Paper bags
  • Plastic bags
  • Gauze
  • Tulle
  • Other fabric

Even just a single juggling scarf is full of possibilities. Once you’ve got the basics down, follow along with WT to learn 14 juggling tricks, all using one scarf.

Can you work those tricks into a two-scarf juggling pattern? What about a three-scarf cascade? Check out even more scarf juggling tricks from the National Circus Project in the video below. Can you spot the trick that looks like the columns pattern Hassiem and Dylan demonstrated on Monday?


Wacky Juggling

25 – 30 minutes, Ages 6 – 12

You’ve tried your hand at juggling scarves, and maybe juggling balls, but there are so many other things you can juggle! From toilet paper to water bottles to their own clothes, the uber-talented performers of Plastic Boom juggled all kinds of colorful and wacky things on the New Victory stage in their show Water on Mars (New Victory 2017). Take a look!

Feeling inspired? Follow along at home with New Victory Teaching Artist and professional clown Billy Schultz as he teaches juggling with everyday objects inspired by Water on Mars!

On Friday, Billy will be sharing some more advanced juggling moves. In the meantime, show us your juggling experiments! We want to see what wacky items you think are fit for juggling. Tag us @newvictorytheater on Instagram and we’ll feature you in our story. Here’s second-year New Victory usher Dorian Turner getting in on the fun from his kitchen:

If you want to succeed as a juggler, it helps to have a strong sense of balance. Use the household objects you gathered for juggling, and maybe a few others, to test and fine-tune your balancing skills!

Materials: Small, non-breakable household items (spoons, paper towel rolls, empty water bottles); string or masking tape

Step One: Gather household items and materials for balancing.

Step Two: Lay down a string or tape a line across the floor to walk along. Try balancing one of the objects on your hand while walking along the line.

Step Three: Level up! Can you try balancing two objects at once? Three? Four?!

Step Four: Get creative and challenge yourself! Try to balance your object while playing with…

  • Speed: How fast or slow can you walk while balancing the object?
  • Direction: Try walking sideways or backwards!
  • Placement: Where else can you balance an object? On your head? Foot? Chin?
  • Jumping: Can you hop, skip or jump and not drop the object?


Contact Juggling

25 – 35 minutes, Ages 6 – 15

Throw, throw. Catch, catch. Roll, roll? The juggling we’ve practiced so far is called toss juggling. But you don’t have to toss an object to juggle it. In fact, you never even have to let it go! The practice of manipulating an object along the surface of your body is called contact juggling—the object stays in contact with you the whole time.

Can you spot the contact juggling soccer player in this video from World Stage Productions and Broadway Asia International’s Brazil! Brazil! (New Victory 2012)?

Now follow along with teaching artist and contact juggler extraordinaire Josh Matthews in this video originally shared with audiences before they came to see Brazil, Brazil!

If you’re fresh out of oranges and haven’t a tennis ball in sight, that’s okay. Have you ever seen someone roll their hat from their hand onto their head? That’s contact juggling, too! The circus artists of Machine de Cirque (New Victory 2018) took that to the next level:

Machine de Cirque
Photo: William Théberge

In this activity, inspired by Machine de Cirque, practice contact juggling with paper balls of your own making, and then kick it up a notch with some household objects.

Materials: Paper; a hat, or any soft or lightweight household object

Step One: Scrunch up a piece of paper into a ball shape.

Step Two: Place your paper ball between your hands with both your palms facing down. Then, try to catch the paper ball as you flip your hands so that both your palms face up. See how many times you can do this in a row.

Step Three: Level up! Try flipping just one hand. Try rolling it along your arm. Can you bounce it onto your head? Down to your feet? From our elbow back to your hand?

Step Four: Take after the performers of Machine de Cirque and try using a hat to perform the tricks you practiced with the paper ball. What other objects can you use?

Modification for younger kids: If balancing a ball on your hand or body is tricky, try keeping a ball from rolling off of a piece of paper instead. You can even work with a partner to control the roll, like in this game from Preschool Kids.

Show off your contact juggling moves! Share a photo or video with us by tagging @newvictorytheater on Instagram, and we’ll post it to our story. Here’s a shot of Siobhan, our Education Programs Manager, practicing with a tennis ball.

Siobhan's Juggling Example

The cradle, palm-to-cradle over the fingertips and the butterfly—all contact juggling moves that Siobhan has been practicing!

Craving a deeper dive into contact juggling? Check out this WikiHow article for further tips, tricks, moves and techniques, including the three moves Siobhan is working on!


Level Up Your Juggling

25 – 30 minutes, Ages 6 – 15

You’ve been practicing the fundamentals all week. Now it’s time to take your juggling to the next level. Follow along with New Victory Teaching Artist Billy Schultz (whom you may remember from Wednesday) to learn some extra moves you can sprinkle into the patterns you’ve already learned.

Looking for even more advanced patterns? Check out this video from YouTuber Taylor Glenn. Her channel, Taylor Tries, is full of fantastic juggling tutorials.

Bounce Juggling

Next we’re going to take a look at two other forms of juggling, both of them a bit more advanced. First up is bounce juggling, which appeared on the New Victory stage in Bibi and Bichu’s Circus Abyssinia: Ethiopian Dreams. Brothers Bibi and Bichu Tesfamariam are themselves accomplished jugglers, and their bounce juggling act, pictured below, inspired a set of activities in our lower lobby before the show.

Bibi and Bichu in Circus Abyssinia: Ethiopian Dreams
Bibi and Bichu in Circus Abyssinia: Ethiopian Dreams

Find yourself a partner and a ball with a decent bounce, and follow along with Xan, Cliff, Tianna and Manny as they practice the fundamentals of a partner bounce juggling routine.

  • Can you combine these moves into a juggling routine?
  • Can you use any of WT’s scarf jugging tricks from Tuesday in these bounces?
  • Can you add additional balls for an extra challenge?

Foot Juggling

The final form of advanced juggling we’re going to explore today is foot juggling! In addition to spectacular acrobatics, Circus der Sinne’s Mother Africa: My Home featured incredible foot juggling. In this activity, learn the basic principles of foot juggling.

Materials: Throw pillows, balloons, anything soft with a shape

Step One: Watch this clip from CNN’s African Voices of a Circus der Sinne performer practicing her foot juggling.

Step Two: Lie on your back and try to balance a pillow on one foot. Once it’s balanced, try throwing it into the air with your foot.

  • Can you throw it to your other foot?
  • How many times can you throw it in the air?
  • Can you throw it to the foot of someone lying next to you?

Step Four: Experiment with other things in your house. For example, try to keep a balloon up in the air using only your feet.

  • How many seconds can you keep it aloft?
  • Can you throw it and catch it?
  • Can you pop it?

Step Five: Once you’re done experimenting, it’s time to create your act. Choose three tricks to perform in a sequence.

HINT: Start with the easiest and end with the most challenging. Don’t forget to bow at the end (in the circus it’s called a style!).

We hope you enjoyed this fifth week of New Victory Arts Break. Check out past Arts Breaks here, and keep coming back for more arts-based fun in the weeks ahead.

You are a part of the New Victory community. We want to see you, and hear from you! Show us how you’re using New Victory Arts Break at home and share your creative work with us—tag us on Instagram @newvictorytheater.

Comments Leave a comment

  1. What I found interesting was that Juggling has been around for at least 4000 years, since the days of Ancient Egypt.