It took a few days to recover and I'm finally taking the time to write about how great IJC was.
This was the first year that I was able to arrive a day early. There were a few dozen people on Thursday and I was soon put to work by Yanai sweeping the gym. They had swept a week earlier but since then many birds had dropped nesting materials throughout the gym. I noticed that the public bathrooms didn't have toilet seats and was thinking of complaining to the organizers; later when I went to the bathroom, I saw seats - the organizers seem to have thought of everything! I helped with a few other simple things and then was allowed to juggle. Most of Thursday afternoon I was the only one juggling but occasionally some others joined me. The only guests to arrive at that point were Nella and Roman of Tr'Espace. I immediately noticed their excellent control over excalibur-style diaboloing - they are the only people I've seen do it without needing to turn (later they actually showed me that they can turn against the direction most people turn). They had lots of stunning solo and 2-person moves. I spoke more to Nella than Roman and learned about their background and future goals.
Every year I bring a tent and have never actually used it, preferring to sleep in the gym. Since the camping area was fairly empty, I decided to sleep open-air without a tent. The mosquitoes kept me up a lot while feasting on my face. I woke up looking like I had chicken pox.
People started arriving throughout Friday including more guests. I socialized a bit but still managed around 12 hours of practice, mostly with 5 clubs. Itsik's son, Emil, retrieved dropped clubs and later told his dad that there was a terrible juggler that was dropping big yellow clubs all over the place. Lots of people were intrigued by my new clubs but nobody liked them. I threatened to use the hard one-piece clubs for combat. I got some workshops going in the afternoon. I skipped the evening show to dinner with some friends and only after I saw people heading back to the camping area did I venture back to the hall assuming there would be a lot of space to practice. I think that this was the most crowded I saw the gym the entire week. I borrowed someone's clubs for combat and had a lot of fun even though I never won. I dubbed Jochen of Get the Shoe - "The Terminator." He is large, emotionless, and juggles with robot-like precision. He won about 80% of the time before he got bored with us. In one round ending with just him and Ofek, he got on his knees to finish up.
Saturday I slowed down my juggling pace. I worked less on 5 clubs, spending time with less strength intensive skills. I met a woman named Tamar who was obsessed with balancing things and we came up with some fun multi-club balances - she had some that I thought were physically impossible and later would see her controlling them seemingly with ease. Some friends helped me with my handstanding and I made some decent improvement. I also worked a bit on 3 clubs while bouncing a ball on my head. I had barely tried it since getting a record of 12 bounces at last year's IJC. Well, I got over 20 bounces a few times with a high of 24.
I enjoyed watching the guests practicing. I didn't see Nella and Roman practicing hardly for the rest of the convention since there wasn't so much space and they seem to need about 10 square meters each. Talking and watching Maksim Komaro was fascinating. He said that juggling for him is work and his practice is highly regimented. He says he almost never plays around with juggling and only works on things that he intends to put into his show. He is very very precise and has beautiful new tricks he's working on, most of which are about 80% solid. Matt Hall also seemed to have a pretty structured practice session. And, as per his reputation he was helpful in the gym, giving workshops, and enthusiastic on open stage and renegade. The guys from Le Petit Traverse were technically excellent in the gym and seemed to be having a great time just playing around with silly tricks.
Some Israelis were showing hot tricks, too. Segev was wild with 5, 6, and 7 clubs. Little Ofek did 2, 3, and 4 diabolos and also 20+ throw runs of 5 clubs. Dekel, age 13, did lots of tricks with 3 diabolo shuffles.
In the evening, Le Petit Traverse put on a show. It was more like theater than juggling, but it was brilliant. Lots of clever humor, magic, and other surprises. Such unassuming looking guys but really entertaining and a well-deserved standing ovation with several curtain calls.
There was on open stage in the evening. I don't remember much but I'll brag about my contribution. I had a trick that wasn't solid enough to really perform but since I wanted to show off, I convinced a few others to come on stage and we would all attempt tricks that we could get once in 20 or so tries. So Segev tried 7 club flashes, Ofek 4 diabolos, Mark "Schani" Probst throwing a beanbag from his mouth to an ass catch, and Ron Beeri I don't remember what. I feel bad that I was the first to succeed, but I got my trick in about 6 tries. Basically I threw a baseball cap behind my back to a nose balance and then juggled 3 clubs with the balance. There was the first of 3 lame renegades in the evening but I have nothing to comment on.
Sunday brought a bunch more people including a lot more of the Jerusalem contingent. Games were in the afternoon and I had a lot of fun trying. The first game was diabolo into a bucket held on Guy Lev (the games organizer)'s head. Nobody succeeded the first 2 rounds but on the third, I made a beautiful shot and won a flower stick (yippee!). I'm happy that I beat all Israelis in the 5 club endurance but still lost to the 2 Get the Shoe guys. In the 5 ball endurance, I got bored quickly and hit a lot of nice tricks before I dropped. Bar Mualem kicked butt in 5 ball and 7 ball endurances which was inspiring. I participated in more and had fun watching, too.
In the evening, guests Peter Sweet and Maksim Komaro (and celloist partner) put on shows. Peter did a slackrope routine in nerdy style. Maksim interacted with his musician and then rocked with balls and buckets. Maksim ended with a great energy and got himself a standing ovation.
Afterwards was the 3 ball open. I don't remember the full lineup, but there was lots of great juggling. I wanted Sharon Cypis to get 2nd for his great tricks and style but Maksim beat him with lots of original tricks perfectly executed. But the big winner with more than 4 times as many votes as Maksim was easily Ori Roth. His totally original and technically difficult tricks were perfectly choreographed to music. It was reminiscent of Michael Menes' classic routine, but without the dance and body movement and still 10 times better. Awesome stuff, Ori!
Even though it rained a bit during the day, they allayed many people's fears and decided not to cancel the fire show. I've never seen it, much preferring to take advantage of the empty gym and juggle. There was another lame renegade that night.
Late at night a lot of frisbee was happening. A dozen or more of us stood in a big circle and passed around some 6 or 7 frisbees. It was challenging with all the action in every direction but it was a lot of fun. I think I played from about 2-5am. I got into bed as the sky was getting light.
I should have taken notes during Sunday's Israeli Gala show and I've forgotten much of it. Itsik Orr opened the show with his brilliant ball bouncing on drum pad thingies. Assaf and Ronen did some spoken comedy while acrobalancing around. Yaron and Tom did some character work while sharing 5 balls. Irena reprised her tightrope act from last year. Sharon Cypis did fast-paced cigar boxes. Ron Beeri did 3-5 clubs with style and originality. Itsik came back on for a 3 ball routine. Michal and Amir tangoed while sharing ball patterns. Amit ended with high energy fire staffs. There may have been more, too, but it's hard to recall.
I also should have taken notes for the International Show which was the highlight of the convention and perhaps my juggling career. Peter Sweet emceed and repeatedly had to bring acts back onstage for curtain calls. Matt Hall started with some breakdance and manipulating cigar boxes and diabolos. Afterwards he complained about his performance but I enjoyed it because I always enjoy people taking risks on stage and he hit a lot of really hot tricks. At the end, Matt accidentally threw one of his 2 diabolos up onto an overhead wire and it spun in place for a few seconds before falling off and him catching it to the amusement of the crowd. Maksim did a lovely 3 ball routine interacting with his cello player.
Tr'Espace did an amazing diabolo act. Some of their interaction was sensual as they shared a diabolo and sometimes the handsticks. Other parts were just intense as they exchanged diabolos while one excalibured and the other shuffled 2. Not only was the technical skill the highest level diabolo I've ever seen, but the way they routined it made the act the best I've ever seen. The pacing was unbelievable and I felt breathless at the end. Compared to other standing ovations that I've joined in on, I was one of the first to jump up the second their routine ended. This was one of the real highlights for me.
Itsik smartly scheduled an intermission after this act so we could absorb all that had happened. Petit Travers reviewed their ball manipulation and magic piece from their show the other night. Matt Hall returned with balls doing 5 including a trick that we discussed earlier in the gym whether he should risk it and go for: b633633 with the 3s carried high and dropped. He hit it with ease and then nailed 7 balls. Peter gave a beautiful 3 ball interpretation to a story about Einstein. Maksim had his partner flick beanbags from a board from 3 up to 6 balls with a lot of tension. Finally Get the Shoe did their wild club routine. This was the most fast-paced choreographed routine I've ever seen. It incorporated martial arts, matrix-like effects, clever humor, and extraordinary juggling.
After the acts all came out for standing ovations and multiple curtain calls, the audience chanted, "More, more, more!" The acts didn't know what to do, but soon Matt Hall came on and did one more big trick. The rest of the performers were surprised at the spontaneity, but eventually they one by one thought of something more to do to please the crowd. It was a brilliant ending to a great great show.
I don't think I've ever had an urge to hug a man before but later that night I gave Itsik a big hug for bringing over such great guests. Itsik intentionally upset me by suggesting he should retire on such a high note. Oy - that would be terrible. Itsik - you're great and IJC needs you!!!
Renegade later that night consisted of some parodies of the shows but overall it was as lame as most nights. I went to bed after Ori and Bar attempted to do more than an hour of 5 balls. Even though they failed Ori nearly doubled his personal best with some 42 minutes which was cool.
I was in denial on Tuesday that it was over and kept juggling while sadly saying goodbyes.
Another IJC Review: http://schani.wordpress.com/2006/04/23/the-2006-israeli-juggling-convention/