Juggling Intensive with Mike Menes

Mike Menes is an American variety artist and teacher (see Portrait Kaskade issue 37). His intensive aims to help jugglers build their work to the level of a "masterpiece". 14 came to the workshop at Madrid's Carampa circus this autumn. Instead of the usual juggling technique, we were taught performance and presentation.

Over the 25 hours, Menes encouraged us to focus on the premise of our piece so that the audience can quickly understand the scene. His emphasis is equally valuable for different styles and levels of ability/experience.

Every day we warmed up with yoga and the isolation of body movements. Then followed group work topics such as atmosphere and expanding our repertoir of moves. There was also time for individual tuition and scene studies.

The greater range of skills we have to draw from, the better. Fundamentally though, clarity in staying with the intention and characterisation is what can most improve a juggling piece. Since there are plenty of ideas, choose by listening to your intuition and build on personal experiences and strengths. In our group, the student's premises for juggling pieces ranged from simply to "share" the skills, to being a sorcerer, story teller or leading a funeral procession!

The audience remembers all the information it is given and must believe in a real character and situation. Entertainers must have a correlation of understanding what the people watching are feeling. In critiques of pieces, scenes were often too busy and over technical when to simplify and really convince ourselves of our ideas would produce artistry.

Mike Menes and Peter Davidson offer a fortnight's intensive at the Celebration Barn, Maine, USA. The next is 10-23.8.97 and $750 inclusive. For all those not able to travel so far I would encourage you, with a circus school or association, to invite professionals like Menes to run juggling courses across Europe. Everyone will benefit.

Michael Menes, RR2, Box 70, Buckfield, ME USA 04220. Tel +1 207 336-2943, Fax +1 207 336 2950

Anna Semlyen 1996