Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Sondre Ribe Øverby

Name, how old are you, and for how long have you been juggling?

Sondre Ribe Øverby. I was 18 years old on the 31st of May, which happens to be the world's do-not-smoke-day. I am pretty proud of that, though it wasn't my own accomplishment.

I am not sure when I learned to juggle; I've always told people it was in August 2005 after one of my friends had learned 3 balls during summer holiday and passed it onto me, which it well might have been, but I have also believed it was right after my family's round trip in North America; In Chicago(I think) I saw a street juggler that I thought was awesome. But this was in 2003, so I am not sure when I got my hands around the 3 ball cascade.

Anyway, I discovered in February of 2006 that it was indeed possible to do more than 4 balls in less than 20 years of practice, even though I was at about 500 catches of 4 balls at the time. So having watched Peter Bone's “juggling in my room” video way too many times(is that possible?) I got a new set of beanbags – in fact, all I had from before were some home made ballon and rice thingies – and started practicing more than my friends thought seemed sane. So assuming I started practicing with a goal in February 2006, I have been juggling for pretty much exactly two and a half years.

At what point did you know that juggling was what you wanted to do, and would make up

a critical part of your life?

I don't know. But before I started juggling, I always knew that juggling was the most definite absolutely “awesomest” thing in the entire world, so maybe I always wanted it to?

To date, what is the most unusual thing or set of things that you have juggled?

I have juggled eggs(and held 21 in one hand! Haha! Oh but not on video. Or maybe it was? I have to check my harddrive - I remember having a good attempt on video, maybe it was that one). And I juggled a little kid and two beanbags once, like Ivan Pecel does in his show. Also I have juggled a shoe, a diabolo and a club for a random prop endurance I think. And at the chicken slaughtering at the place I work(yes, my part time job is to stack eggs in boxes, which is why I on occasion try to amuse myself(how is that amusing? Whatever.) by holding many in one hand.) I juggled 3 dead chickens after we were done.

What has your juggling career entailed so far?

Well, the career part would include performing in front of 1200 people once, and then busking in Oslo for half an hour when I had nothing better to do. I have performed on several other occasions though, but that has 4 times been part of the UKM(Norwegian talent show that does not air on TV and does not reward you with anything but the pride of going to the next round or the finals) and a couple volunteer show thingies. I've been booked to do a 4 minute act in August, and I will do some more busking in Oslo this summer when visiting some people.

Also, I got the Norwegian Lottery Service's “dream scholarship” of 10,000 NOK, uh, that's $1900 or so. Still, being one of 100 in the country who gets it is not bad. They give it out every year to kids and youngsters who do something interesting. That means, musicians. So when I “raised my hand” and I said I wanted it, there was basically no question since juggling was so original.

What accomplishments are you most proud of?

Juggling skill wise? Must be the 5 ball 1 high 4 low 5 up 720 which I nailed a few days ago. The siteswap is d88880000 if anyone wonders. It was not in a regular practice, seeing as it took more than 5 tries ;)

How many of each type of props do you juggle?
I have the 7 ball cascade almost solid, but have qualified 9 balls a lot of times, and I can flash 10 and probably 11 if I had bothered putting in the time for that.

I can maintain a shaky 4 club juggle and qualify 5 on occasion, and I have some 5 ring tricks and short runs of 6 rings. I think I have qualified 7 rings, and flashed 8.

Do you specialize in any auxiliary props or non juggling circus arts?
I do some acrobatics.

Generally speaking, do you wear socks while you juggle?
Yes. I prefer to wear shoes as well. But I don't wear socks when I wear sandals, which is almost as good as shoes. But most of the time it's too cold to wear sandals anyway.

At what types of venues do you usually perform?

Well, I guess that's semi-answered earlier, but so far I have done some street performing, and the other occasions have ranged from school related celebrations to the opening of the highway Lofast, where, as I mentioned, 1200 people were present. But the Queen(of Norway) had to leave before my act for some reason. But the occasions was so decently special that she was there.

So the answer is, “any”.

Anything amusing or unique ever happen at one of these shows?
I've had lots of fun being on stage. The annoying thing is that I am not afraid of being there; Give me a hundred million people audience and I will go right on there. But my body is so afraid. I have never had an adrenaline rush even close to as powerful as those I get on stage. So basically, my hands only obey my commands halfway decently. The other half of the time, I drop.

So no, not really anything unique. But I guess having fun is amusing in a way.

Are you a clown?


What makes up a standard juggling practice for you?

Warm up with some boring 5 ball tricks, then go through all the tricks and siteswaps I try to practice with 5 balls, move on to 6 and do the same there, and then 7. Eventually I'll go back to 5 to try some tricks that require more warming up. Sometimes I try 8 or 9 too, but never more than 3-4 attempts.

I practice pretty much only tricks I can get in 5 attempts or less. I don't want to waste time(seeing as there is none to waste right now). On occasion I'll add a new trick to my practice session and see how fast I learn it, but if it takes more than 5 tries in later sessions, I stop practicing that trick.

What is it that will make you want to pick up your props tomorrow and keep juggling?

I want to get better. Well, I guess I just want to have fun, but my idea of fun is to be a respected individual in a group(including the advantages this brings), and it appears that jugglers pay more respect and attention to one who is technically better than them*. Besides, juggling is much more fun if you can do almost any trick you want. I don't really have fun during my practices, except for if I learn something new or break a record, thereby showing myself I have gotten better and accomplished something. It's like working out; the action itself is not so much fun, but to see progress and to get a sense of accomplishment is great. An effect of this is increased self esteem.

*Hey! I am a nice guy, too!

What goals are you currently working towards?

I want to have 7 balls entirely solid by the end of the year, although I know that's not realistic due to my limited practice time. I'd also like to get more experience with being on stage so I can earn some money from this which I have spent so much time on. I am also saving money so I'll afford going to WJF5 in December.

On a long term basis, I'd like to get to a level, technically or show wise, where I can stay alive from the money I can earn from performing, or hopefully, competing too.

Which prop is your favorite to juggle? Any specific reasoning?
Balls. Because anything else is for wimps who like hurting their hands. That makes sense, yes?

But seriously, I don't have time for two or three props right now. Maybe during summer or next year when I have less schoolwork, but so far I don't feel like stressing through a session in order to learn three props; it will be even less fun to practice then. I already don't get enough time for ball practice.

Are there any specific jugglers that inspire you?
Thomas Dietz is awesome. I even hope my Dietz syndrome doesn't go away.

Apart from him, I've gotten a lot of inspiration from Peter Bone, who apart from being an amazing juggler is a great guy. He saved me from getting stuck in England after BJC08 when I missed the train to the airport because my bank card crashed and I couldn't buy tickets. These two guys share the top 3, in no particular order, with John Nations.

Do you have any “claims to fame” in the juggling community?

I put a lot of time into making good convention videos, and so far the feedback has only been “you make the best convention videos!”. I would like to show all the jugglers how much fun we have had at the conventions I've been to, and possibly attract more of them so the last point in this interview can be easier accomplished.

Also, I've made a few juggling tutorials. Hopefully I'll manage to get this running again, people seemed to like them. I'd also like to teach as many people juggling as possible, and tutorials will help.

Where do you see yourself in terms of juggling in a month, a year, 10 years?
A month... right here or on vacation visiting some friends in Oslo, where I will also try busking a bit.

A year... in the country finals of the UKM. I just need less drops and I'll be there, no question. Maybe I'll make it to the first round of the Norwegian version of “America's got talent” assuming they are making another season, too. Or second round? That would surely help me getting gigs.

10 years... who knows? Maybe I am a professional, maybe I only have it as a hobby, or maybe I have a “real” job and perform a little, too. Anyway I'm going to be a good juggler by then.

Art or Sport?

As Jason Garfield says, it can very well be both, but it is only an art when put in the hands of an artist and presented in that way, and vice versa. The reason I don't like “art” juggling so much, is that it generally sucks because so few of the jugglers doing it are in fact artists. It's like painting or poetry - a lot of it sucks, only the real artists make it good. The point about sport juggling is to me not that it's a sport, but that it takes real technical skill – for sure. In art you can do well with both technical juggling or crappy skills, but in sport juggling you must be good for sure. And when there is a competition, this is an opportunity for the athletes to get rewarded for the time they put into learning all they can do.

If art juggling took a lot of hard work and dedication to do well, I would prefer there to be competitions for these as well, so they could be rewarded for the time they put into it. If you have spent a long time learning something that is in fact difficult, you should be rewarded. But then this would be a competition in technical skill again, and it would become a sport. Besides, you cannot say one artist is better than another artist. They do completely different things, and it's all about the taste of the audience. When talking about pure technical skill, you can have two jugglers doing different moves, but still you can tell who is better based off of what moves are harder, assuming they are pushing their limits all the time, and not just playing with easy stuff – like art jugglers apparently tend to do. How could you do “the most technical art juggling?”

So basically, I like art juggling when a good art juggler does it – although there are practically none of these – and I like sport juggling when a technically good juggler does this. Well, it doesn't have to be in a competition really. The competing part is just to make technical jugglers want to become even better, and in the competitions you get a fair sense of how good they are based off of what moves they have solid and whatnot. And it's fair that they get rewarded when they are better than somebody else. Besides, they have fun.

One other thing that I've been wondering about, is why some “art” jugglers say that “no, I don't want the sport jugglers with their crappy attitude, mean looks and throwing down of the props”. Now, the mean looks comes from the very special character that Jason Garfield used to play, and from none else as far as I have ever seen. This was a CHARACTER. So, there ARE no mean looks. Then the attitude. I have never met or heard about a sport(WJF) juggler that has a worse attitude than some of the “art” jugglers that claim to have a better attitude. Actually, the art jugglers with the worst attitudes are so incredibly much worse than the sport jugglers with “equally” bad attitudes that it scares me they can claim to have a good attitude. I am not saying all art jugglers have this attitude, not many of them. Just a few. Of course, I like sport juggling more, so I am naturally going to defend sport jugglers. But I believe I am quite open minded. I will keep discussing this though, until we all agree.

Balls, Beanbags, or Russians?

2 months worth of breaking in on 3 inch 180g beanbags is the way to go – uh, for me anyway.

If there is one thing you would like the juggling community to know about you, what would it be?

I would like to meet them all and become their friend, and I intend to.

Ok, guys – if you see me at a convention, I want you to come over and say hi and talk to me. Remember, I spend about all my money every time I go to a convention(and then start saving for the next), so it would be unfair if you know I want to meet you, but then take away what I came there to see. So – see ya there, wherever it is!

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