For several years now I have been suggesting a juggling competition for older…

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It's Him -

For several years now I have been suggesting a juggling competition for older jugglers (my working name was BODGE-oty). If the BJC doesn't happen next year (or even if it does) then it might be good to have it at EJC. I'm working on the rules and would like some input from the civilized (and possibly older) community of JugglingEdge. Here are my starting ideas, please comment on them.


1) The juggler entering must be in at least their 50th year.

2) The act must use equipment that is intrinsic to the performance rather than distracting from the performance e.g. glow props that obscure skill or lack thereof.

3) The act may not have been part of a professional performance or a juggling convention show within the last year.

4) The act must be suitable for a cabaret spot or juggling show.

5) Speaking acts may be no longer than 8 minutes and non-speaking acts 5 minutes.

Marking Structure:

The maximum score is 100 with marks being awarded in the following categories:

Presentation of artist (15): Does the costume suit the act? Are the props giving a professional image etc.

Characterisation (25): Does the performer maintain their character throughout the performance? Does the character fit with the rest of the act (music, props, clothing etc.)?

Technique (25): Is the performer technically proficient in their chosen skill? Is the routine clean? Do they handle drops well? Are any of the skills presented innovative?

Performance (35): Does the show fit together? Are the audience engaged?

If the performer over runs their allotted time they lose 1 mark every 3 seconds.

None of this is set in stone but all arguments against a particular rule or inclusion of a different rule should be supported with a relevant and coherent reasoned statement.

Some of the reasoning for the above:

Age limit. This had to be set at some point and I wanted it to be restrictive but not too restrictive. 50 seemed like an appropriate cut off as there are quite a few above that age at BJC.

Equipment. Circus is all about spectacle but juggling is not just about that and so I want the acts to demonstrate their skills.

Not performed recently. I want to see act development but from the perspective of experience. A regularly performed act is not a challenge but developing something different requires much more.

Suitability. I don't want to just see technical skill. Anyone who has been juggling long enough will have developed a whole set of technical skills but it is how they are applied that is more important.

Time Limit. A comedy or character act takes longer to develop than a straight performance to music but talking acts have a tendency to push the talking at the expense of the skills. The longer time than BYJOTY but with the penalty imposed for going over seems to me to help with both these aspects.

Marking. I want to see good, well thought out acts and pitched the scoring roughly in the area of how I look at an act and decide whether I would book them. These numbers can be tweaked.


pumpkineater23 - - Parent

Not sure about your rules. All seems a bit old fashioned/out of touch. Why not just have an over 50s do-what-you-like?

Daniel Simu - - Parent

I'm also confused by the rules. I do not understand what 2) means, and why do talking acts get more time? Can one do a non talking act, say a word, and thereby extend his time for 3 minutes? What are the requirements to meet 4)? Isn't any act that is shorter than 8 minutes suitable for a juggling/cabaret show?

The things you don't want to see you can discourage with your scoring/judging, boring acts get less points. But it is hard to turn them away beforehand

The best way to find out if this is a good idea is to talk to 50+ jugglers until you have 3-5 willing participants!

It's Him - - Parent

2) Means that I don't want the act to be all about the technology rather than the skill. Whilst acts can incorporate technology (e.g. Eugenius Nil) I don't want the audience to be thinking about how well the programming matches the music or what pretty pictures the prop makes instead of what the performer is doing.

A talking act is one where the artist talks for a significant part of the act in a way that is consistent with the character portrayed in the act. I am aware that this takes longer to establish a rapport with the audience and therefore thought that the act needed more time. It should be the call of the judges whether the act is a talking act and the penalty clause is there if they think someone is just taking advantage.

4) Whilst an act that is under 8 minutes might be suitable for a cabaret show I know that many of the segments of my show that are under 8 minutes are not suitable because the are constructed for a different purpose (entertaining kids, re-enactment audiences etc). The act should be designed with the possibility of being performed on a stage with size and height restrictions.


It's Him - - Parent

One of the things that has inspired me to start this competition is that I want more acts for Milton Keynes Juggling Convention. In general the type of act that is suitable for a convention isn't the same as what the majority of professional performers do. (which in my experience tends towards the 45 minute show, walkabout, workshop rather than cabaret).

In what way are the rules out of touch? (especially when we are talking about older jugglers) Is it because they are slightly prescriptive? Actually having some rules makes a show easier to construct.


7b_wizard - - Parent

dunno ( I know little to nothing about performing, but am +50yo, so just my 2cts: ) .. why exclude the pros? ( rule "3)" ) .. sounds a bit rigid at first read, but on the other hand thought through rating-criteria. Or simply have a jury rate, at each jury-member's own criteria? .. age limit could maybe also be 45yo? ..

The idea sounds good, though, (why not also have that for e.g. minor 14-15yo?) but what would keep a senior, who meets all those rules and criteria, from taking part in any regular (``normal´´, non-senior) contests (too)?

7b_wizard - - Parent

.. and yet, .. as a counter example, .. what if a 60yo fellow shows up on stage and, in an open stage manner, just flashes 11 balls or qualifies 10, bends and walks offstage again getting tons of applause, .. would he be ``offending´´ that cabaret-or-juggling-show rule and not get any rating points after those criteria?

It's Him - - Parent

My original age criteria was 40 and then when I thought about it a bit more and when looking at the people who attended the BJC this year I thought that there may be too many entries if the bar was set that low. The number isn't that rigid just needs to be there.

The concept originated after watching British Young Juggler of the Year a few times and seeing many young acts put technical skills before performance. For those who don't attend the BYJOTY competition this is held annually at the British Juggling Convention and is open to anyone under 21 who is British. It has had falling numbers for the last two - three years but that is a reflection on the total number of people attending the convention.

I'm not trying to exclude the pros. I'm trying to get new acts from people or old acts that would need to be practised again. There has been a tendency at one day conventions in the UK to have the same few acts appear at most conventions (often with the same act at each show). I'd like to see a wider range available to convention show bookers (ok me but it will help others).


lukeburrage - - Parent

If it is a judged competition with ten acts and three judges, the only people happy at the end are the people who won and the two judges who out-voted the third.

It's Him - - Parent

A very good point.

With BYJOTY you obviously have the audience award that rewards the most popular act and the judges awards that reward the acts that fit the judges criteria. From what I can determine from what my son received from entering the competition this year the judges award was more important in an immediate way (voucher for Oddballs, T-shirt) the other silver winner getting the same size voucher and a bag that might have contained something. Peter along with the title received a cuddly toy dragon and a gold BJC pass as BYJOTY winner.

You could argue that the title is more important than anything else and that should be awarded by a populist vote and I would like to hear opinions on this. I believe that the IJA awards are judged and no-one seems particularly upset about this (I could be wrong I have never been to the IJA and my knowledge is based on what I have read on forums over the years). I disagree that the only people who will be happy when entering are the judges and winner. As a convention booker I am looking to book acts. I don't want to book the same act as everyone else and so I often ask someone other than the winner of BYJOTY to be in MKJC show (e.g. last year I asked two acts from BYJOTY, neither were the winner, one appeared in the show). This year I have also asked an act that wasn't the winner.


lukeburrage - - Parent

"I believe that the IJA awards are judged and no-one seems particularly upset about this (I could be wrong I have never been to the IJA and my knowledge is based on what I have read on forums over the years)."

At Derby BJC in 2004 I had the idea for the BYJOTY show. That summer I went to the IJA convention and took part in the stage competition. I was so upset with the judging process and the outcome that I specifically designed the rules of the first BYJOTY to avoid the same thing happening in Perth the next year.

My point being: you are 100% wrong on this subject, and the main BYJOTY title being decided by audience vote is the evidence of this!

david - - Parent

Luke is correct in saying tthat some people have been upset about the results of IJA judging. You are correct in saying some peope are not upset. As a spectator I have not always agreed with the judges decisions and also not agreed with other disgruntled spectators. I think upsetness is inevitable in any judging process, including the populist vote. The IJA also has a "People's Choice" award which may or may not be awarded to one of the judges selections.

Watching over the years I can see that the IJA responds by tweaking the process.

IMHO if you don't have a good reason to judge don't engage in the hastle. You can still have the rules and let the interested spectators decide.

lukeburrage - - Parent

To be clear, you are saying he was correct about something he didn't write. He said "no-one is upset" not "some people are not upset". My first point was that, yes, of course some people are not upset... but in designing the rules for BYJOTY I tried to reduce the number of people who are upset.

In the case of those taking part in the show, it's a lot more easy to take it personally when three judges decide you aren't going to win. It's a lot easier to take when the audience collectively decides. Yo might not be the favourite of any of the judges, but you're probably going to get some percentage of the audience votes.

It isn't the perfect solution, but everyone is involved, not just the five people in the show and the three judges. It allows everyone to express what they like about the show. Nobody is passive.

The IJA People's Choice is not for the an act in the stage championships. It's open for any juggler at the convention who people liked for whatever reason. In 2004 I voted for Komei Aoki, who only took part in the juniors competition.

Little Paul - - Parent

I would say the fewer rules the better (for the first year at least) if you’re overwhelmed by entrants you can refine it in future years.

I agree that 50 feels about right as a lower bound (40 is too low) and I agree about the “must not have been performed for an audience in the last year” (to stop Steve Rawlings turning up and storming it with the routine he’s been doing for 30years) and I agree that there should be some form of time limit, although any complexity around what types of act get what length of time seems unnecessary - “no longer than 8mins” should be enough for anyone.

I don’t care about any of the other rules, or judging criteria, I think “popular vote” is both easier than judging and more satisfying, and if your selfish aim is to find someone to book for MK then it’s probably more relevant than what the judges think anyway.

It's Him - - Parent

To say that it is just my selfish aim to get acts is perhaps a little misleading on my part. Something that encourages 'proper acts' may percolate outside of the competition itself. For example BYJOTY if it doesn't fade may get more acts rather than just people who do tricks. Maybe older jugglers who generally sit around and chat will be more motivated to practice something. Who knows?

With limited input so far it seems like public vote is preferred to judges. What about feedback? What about prizes?

I have the feeling that most older jugglers wouldn't care much about vouchers to buy new props as they probably rooms full of the stuff. On the other hand would something like a bottle of good whisky be appropriate?



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