Jugglers: Kip's Rhythm-Breaking Presentation

by Kip Pascal

It really isn't that hard to learn to break rhythm while juggling. Tim Miller, of Eugene, Oregon first taught me how in 1977.

Once you get a knack for it, you'll be able to let go of juggling balls and grab others mid-beat, almost without thinking about it. Just like other moves, breaking rhythm really does become automatic.

Even though it's a fairly easy skill to master, it makes for a very impressive juggling demonstration.

What follows is a description and the presentation of how I use Rhythm-Breaking as a segue from juggling to other topics of conversation. The result is that you will build your reputation AND leave them wanting more.

The Set Up

I don't use this technique for large audiences. I need the spectators to be close enough to see the hands interact with each juggling ball. It's important to the effect.

Also, look for a situation where you have the opportunity to perform a short routine and then sit back down with the spectators to talk.

Here is how the presentation might start:

While mingling at a small party, I notice three juggling sacks in a dish on a table.

Kip: Hey are these your juggling balls? They have a good feel to them -- right weight and size.

Sue: Yes, they are. I am trying to teach myself to juggle.

Kip: Let's see what you can do.

Sue: Oh no. I am no good yet. Do you juggle?

Kip: Well, my first room mate in college was a juggler. And since I was a magician, we traded lessons. Over the years, I have kept with it.

Sue: Could you show me something, please?

Kip: Sure.

I pick up the three balls and start juggling in a standard Cascade pattern.

Kip: Is this the pattern that you are learning?

Sue: Yes, it is. But you are much better than i am. I keep having to run forward after the balls.

Kip: Sue, I could stand in front of you, while you practice. That would stop the forward motion. You wouldn't dare run into me.

Sue laughs a little.

Kip: Or I could tell you that you are letting go of the juggling sacks from the tips of your fingers. That's why you are chasing them. Throw in an upward motion from the palm of the hand and your problem will be solved.

Sue: Thanks, Kip. That's a great suggestion. Do you know any other patterns of juggling?

Kip: Like these?

As I start, some of the other guests of the party gather around to watch.

I start throwing one ball back and forth over the top. I toss one behind the back. And then flow into a Shower (circular) pattern. Finally, I blend back into the original Cascade -- my resting pattern.

Sue starts the applause. The others join in.

Sue: Kip, what's the hardest pattern that you know?

Kip: Well Sue, it's not really a pattern, but it is a skill. You won't see many jugglers performing this.

Another Guest: I'd like to see it.

Kip: Well, it has to do with rhythm. The next time you watch a juggler, watch the when the balls are being thrown and caught. There is a definite rhythm to the juggling. That's why they call them patterns. The pace or rhythm is born from the pattern, so to speak.

I continue to juggle the balls in a Cascade, but now I count with each throw out loud. 1 ... 2 ... 3 ... 4 ... 5 ... 6 .... 7.

Kip: What you won't find many jugglers performing, in fact it takes years of practice, breaking out of the rhythm.

I then do an under throw, skip grab. I do it smoothly and quickly.

Kip: Did you catch that, pardon the pun? I mean, did you see the broken rhythm? Here it is again.

Then I break rhythm a couple of more times, with regular pattern in between. For these beat skips, I really accentuate the motion. This way, everyone sees the quick-grab in the middle of the routine.

Kip: If you practice this broken rhythm enough, you can accomplish something that will really blow your mind. If you practice enough, you can break rhythm often enough that your broken rhythm actually becomes its own rhythm. Here's what I mean....

At this point, if I am around a bunch of non-jugglers, I sometimes go into a series of claws with each hand on every ball.

But if some of the people in the audience are familiar with the claw, then I play it straight and start doing the under - skip beat on both sides. First, I throw under with the left hand and claw with the right. Then on the very next throw, I throw the next ball under with the right hand and claw with the left hand.

I continue skipping the beat on each throw until they see the pattern.

Then I bring it to a close.

Sue (commenting to another guest): Look how fast Kip's hands are. They are moving at lightning speed....


And that's my clue to move into the coin switch (Kip's Take from Coin Snatching: The Reputation Builder).

They get a private demonstration of a byproduct of being able to skip a beat in juggling. They see that your hands are so fast that not only can you snatch a coin from a participant's hand, but you can secretly leave one in its place.

I do exactly what the book advises for building my reputation in this context.

And it works like a charm.

Of course, you don't need to segue into a coin switch; it's what I do. If you have a better way to cap your performance, feel free to incorporate your own techniques. I just know that the coin snatch, with the right presentation, is perfect at this point.

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