Putting Together A Routine

Placing moves in an ordered sequence will greatly improve your presentation skills. Spend time on a short routine because you will learn that smooth transitions between your patterns are as important as the individual tricks themselves. The instructions are mostly common sense and are widely applicable to club swinging, pole spinning, juggling and many other performance arts.


Set a goal date e.g. a friend's birthday party, for which you want to have a completed routine. Fixing a deadline and reason for the routine is a fantastic aid to motivation, but be realistic and start planning between a month and a week before the event.

Consider the Audience

The intended audience will enjoy your performance all the more if it is tailored to them. Are they children/adults, sitting/standing? Is the routine in the context of a show, or perhaps busking outside? Are you working alone or in a group, with music or words and with what kind of lighting? You may not know all the answers to these questions, but use your best guess and common sense. You will often be able to choose many of these variables.

Listing Your Repertoire of Tricks


Working a routine to music is generally a good idea (excepting slapstick comedy) as music will aid rhythm, set a pace and bring depth to your show. Choose your music with care. I advise a piece without many words as these will detract from your skill. It is very important to pick music that you enjoy -- you will need to listen to the tune many, many times if you are to choreograph your routine at all closely! The music should also be accessible to the listeners and appropriate for the mood of your routine. For instance, oriental pieces will give a mystic feel, dramatic music is best if you decide to act out a fight and comedy routines are enhanced by the use of music that has a surprising or amusing content. If you are not knowledgeable about music, persuade a friend who is to offer suggestions. Asking an expert can save a lot of time and searching.

The Start and Finish Tricks

Knock them dead with an attention-grabbing first trick that absolutely must be one that you can land successfully every time. After this confident start, your show should build to a finale, which again, is spectacular and yet completely reliable. Write down the first and last moves now as chosen from the asterisked tricks.

The Middle Tricks

From your repertoire list, provisionally order only three other tricks into a sequence that develops. Aspire to make the transitions among these three as good as they can be. Ball jugglers should avoid doing the simple cascade between tricks, and endeavor to coordinate moves with pleasing changes. A mirror will help. When repeating a trick, four times (or an even number) is advisable since music tends to have four beats per bar. Try the short sequence until you have rehearsed it reliably 10 times.

Do not be over-ambitious. If it is too difficult, cut the hardest move and replace it with something that is easily within your level of ability. Continue to add single tricks to either end of the existing three trick sequence, given that you have predefined the start and finish.

The Routine

When you have between 6-10 tricks listed in an order, with graceful transitional moves, start to rehearse with your music or comedy. Rearrange the sequence until the two parts (visual and audio) match well, e.g., on high notes give height and present 'funny' tricks with an amusing introduction. Include some surprises, delight in your own imagination and the unexpected! Short routines are always better than too long, so do not be afraid to fade out the music, even down to as little as 1-2 minutes. Cut the least interesting parts and shuffle the rest again so that the routine peaks to a climax. Practise an entrance and a bow in order to round off your show professionally.

Finishing Touches

Your routine is nearly ready. Prepare early to allow enough time to rehearse it well.

Routine Check List

Date .. Time .. Place .. Solo /Group routine .. for audience of Adults / Children / Mixed Equipment / Props List .. Costume .. Music .. Scripted YES / NO, Title or theme .. Total Length .. Special effects ..
Anna Jillings 1994