Contact juggling, unlike toss juggling, hasn’t been around all that long. Toss juggling can be traced back thousands of years but contact juggling, or CJ as the community of contact jugglers calls it, is only about 30 years old.
Contact juggling gets it’s name from the method used to keep the contact juggling balls in motion – that is contact with your body. Unlike toss juggling where the prop makes contact with your body for a brief second, contact juggling means continuous contact with your body.
I was never much of a contact juggler myself until I tried it. I spent most of my time toss juggling, but after the first time I tried it and actually did something that looked very mystifiying, I was hooked.
In CJ there are different styles:
- One Ball Tech – This is a technique in contact juggling where the juggler makes the ball appear to levitate. This is accomplished by spinning the ball around the palm or other part of the body. The illusion of levitation takes place because the transparent ball has no discernable features so you can’t tell if it is spinning. It just looks like it is still.
- Bodyrolling – This is a technique in contact juggling where you continually roll the ball on different surfaces of your body; arms, chest, neck, legs, etc. Tricks can be added together for a number of different combinations. This technique is usually performed with a larger and lighter ball than a typical acrylic contact juggling ball.
- Isolationism – This is a technique in contact juggling where the ball seems to float. It’s different than one ball tech because the jugglers hands and body move around the ball but it is not spinning. Some examples of different isolations are enigmas, palm isolations, and squeeze ups. The juggler can add some really cool effects after isolating the ball effectively, like pulling the ball toward the juggler or pushing it away. It would appear to be on an imaginary string.
- Palmspinning – This is a technique in contact juggling where you use two or more balls in one or two hands. The balls are manipulated in the palms of the juggler. Acrylic balls are typically used for this. When you see a juggler using this technique, the balls are moving around each other and around the palms, but the juggler’s hands barely appear to move.
- A few other types of contact juggling techniques are Dance, Formations, and Point Balance
CJ performers may focus on one style or they may incorporate several different styles. These techniques can involve one or more contact juggling balls.