Meeting Craig Quat: The evolution in juggling pedagogy

Meeting Craig Quat: The evolution in juggling pedagogy

(Please note that all of the quotes presented here are actually paraphrased, but written as quotes to denote speaking. I don’t have a direct recording to be completely accurate of his word choices, but attempted an approximation for a feel of who Quat is.)   Craig Quat walks into the room with a large bounce in his step. “I need a few minutes to relax before we start, I just had an 8 hour meeting” he says. He was meeting with Cirque du Soleil to consult with them about their new family entertainment centers. “But first, who are you?” he asks. I tell him that I am a juggler, and more recently, a mom. “Being a mom is juggling. Changing a diaper requires bilateral precision through space and time. You have to unfold the diaper and hold a baby while they try to roll and anticipate their movements so you can get it in the right spot.” he pauses.  “Everything is juggling”. It seems to me like this is his motto. Quat is a bundle of passion and vibrance who talks fast about deep concepts with a strong penchant for ethics. He is highly researched with a sureness about the importance of his work, but feels a need to continue researching and do more trials. One thing that’s for sure, he cares for, and understands his students like no other teacher I have ever seen. Most of his energy revolves around helping people learn about juggling. He will tell you a dozen juggling related neurological facts. “Juggling increases the brain mass by 5 percent after 6 weeks of practice...
We Learn Better Together – Workshop in August!

We Learn Better Together – Workshop in August!

Has it been hard for you to learn contact juggling? Struggling to learn contact juggling is, unfortunately, normal. Compared to many of the flow arts, those initial moves take a lot of determination to achieve. Right now, contact juggling, is poorly taught. We need to review our pedagogy.  Also, in North America, we are far away from each other and that makes it more difficult to be motivated. That’s why we strive to put new and improved lessons on youtube, and trying to help the community grow from an informed place. I think we can build an army of great contact jugglers and push this field forward! We Learn Better Together Thom and I started a new website called ballcontact.org – a project that is dedicated to learning and growing as contact jugglers. We all used to use contactjuggling.org, but when Facebook came along, it took over our community. Still, it’s important to make lessons simple, easy to achieve and really change the philosophy that juggling stands on. We are here to change the way we learn contact juggling, and we want to bring everyone to one place, because we learn better together. Join us in Montreal for our first 2 days intensive contact juggling workshop! Contact Ball Intensive AUGUST 11 & 12 9H15 – 15H30 MONTREAL, QC SADHAKA YOGA STUDIO Contact juggling is lonely on your own. Come and meet friends & learn this art together! We will help you integrate movement of the body with props movement. We will take a deeper look at your use of body rolling, butterflies, and your body’s balance. This workshop will...
Choreograph Breath

Choreograph Breath

I had an amazing experience recently. When I was performing at the Waterloo Juggling Festival, everything in my act went exactly as planned. This, of course, sounds how it should be, but if I am honest with you, I have really struggled in my carrier to nail it. I do well, enough to ensure no one else notices my foibles, but there was one thing that drastically changed how I felt during my act: I choreographed a moment of stillness in order to take a deep breath. In fact, even in this act, I forgot to choreograph one last breath in the final minute of the act. At 40 seconds, I fumbled just a tiny bit. How was I making it through 6 minutes without breathing  before? In reality, it’s scary to take time to be still on stage. This makes me feel all the feelings contained within my body. All eyes are upon me in that moment, and I feel the urge to do and be something. There is this voice inside that says “You don’t want to waste a precious second of your audiences time without entertainment!”. It’s a lie. As my teacher David McMurray Smith says “Nothing never happens”. But when you are up on stage, building energy, it is very likely that your sympathetic nervous system has kicked in. Your body becomes a jumble of nerves and using cognitive functions becomes more difficult. The body puts its resources into fight or flight responses.  It’s screaming “Do something!”. This is where all that practice comes in handy! It’s great to rehearse an act 100 times but...

The History of the Term Flow Arts

This article was originally posted to the Flow Arts Institute in April 2015, and has been re-posted here with permission. —————– If you ask around in the Flow Arts scene, it seems to come down to a small group of people, pre-youtube, who were trying to figure out what to do with their new prop knowledge and how to put it to good use in the world.  But first, let’s see how that conversation got started. “Movements don’t start with a grand convention. They start with just a few people, or maybe just one.” – Rev. Jeffrey Brown #TED2015 Before the Flow Arts term came to be, people were throwing around the word flow and play. There were two distinct things that made this idea solidify. First, people began spinning and rolling objects at raves in hotspots around the world. In 2001 the legendary Drone was a spot in London where jugglers went to enjoy electronic dance music and play with props. Toronto’s rave scene was heavily influenced by London where the spinning was imported. The raves were suppressed in 2002 in it’s wake a fire-spinning crew began to meet at Trinity Bellwoods with the drum circles. The Toronto rave scene influenced the East coast Buffalo, NY and exchanged a lot of ideas with Detroit, Michigan and moved from North to South. To the West Burning Man’s epic effect on all of North America’s underground culture spread the idea of spinning from the south towards the north. The West Coast and more specifically, L.A. & San Francisco in California, Portland in Oregon, Seattle and Bellingham in Washington and all the...
What do you include in your Fitness Praxis?

What do you include in your Fitness Praxis?

There is a lot of talk about practice time, discipline, focus and attention to details in the world of juggling and Flow Arts. The combined action of this work is what I call Fitness Praxis. Yet, there are so many areas which we can put our attention to, which ones are the most important? Of course, it depends on what the outcome of your work will be, but there are a few areas which are important to us all as humans. As physical practitioners, we should be training more than just our props. If we do not, we will not reach our full potential because we lack strength, agility and endurance. It is inevitable that we will get injured if we do not include sports training in our art work. In other sports disciplines it’s called cross-training, which means the body is more balanced, you protect yourself from repetitive strain injuries (RSI) and the result is more energy and dynamic mobility. “It is inevitable that we will get injured if we do not include sports training in our art work.” Currently, my full time job is a training circuit. I realize this is a small luxury, it’s also circumstantial due to immigration to a new country. I consider my ‘free time’ here as ‘time to seriously school myself’. Honestly, I wish there was time for this level of commitment when I started 10 years ago. Instead, I worked on my prop training, community building and university education. Those were also good things to do, but my body suffered injuries that were preventable. Through the years I discovered a more...
Elements of A World Class Performance

Elements of A World Class Performance

Image: Steven Ragatz performs at the ScotiaBank Buskers Festival in 2012 A world class performance requires us to be masters of many disciplines. If you’ve trained properly at a circus school – great! They likely taught you many of these tricks. But, if you’re self taught like me, these disciplines are not the ones you’ve practiced over the last decade. Although you can practice and get good enough to become one of the worlds greatest jugglers, if you’ve not practiced character and stage set up, your show is probably lacking. If instead, you come from an acting background, you may understand the theaters and cameras well, but your knowledge of prop manipulation is likely naive. The same is true of all cross-disciplines, and let’s be clear, we will never be good at improvising at each and every one of these simultaneously. But, you can choreograph a good act to include them all. If you create this act, then you hold all the master-performer cards in your hand at the same time.     Juggling or Prop Artist   A prop artist is good at making a prop come alive. They can multitask and take the risks of throwing, rolling, and spinning the object around their body with ease. The object appears not only comfortable for the artist, but an extension of them. These gravity defying feats are physical in nature, but it comes with problems. Often the person who juggles becomes unaware of their body position or loses character easily because of the huge amount of focus it takes to be aware of the actions of the object. The...
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