Behind the Juggler Presents: Grace Bidgood
Name, how old are you, and for how long have you been juggling?
My name is Grace Bidgood, I’m seventeen, and I have been juggling for about a year and three months.
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 guess at the beginning. I took up juggling after a hard year of struggling with shoulder problems and surgery. I found juggling didn’t hurt like my other activities did and I discovered I have a natural talent to do it.
To date, what is the most unusual thing or set of things that you have juggled?
Hamburger patties, using spatulas instead of my hands, it got messy quickly.
Was that at all successful? I have played around with trying to juggle tennis balls using racquets and baseballs using gloves etc but have always found the substitute “hands” to not function nearly as well.
No, it wasn’t very successful… it ended in disaster.
What has your juggling career entailed so far?
Well lots of shows, and the lessons that come with performing, like learning how to treat an audience, or learning what people like to see in a juggling act. Juggling has also enabled me to socialize with people, young and old, it has given me a chance to talk with them.
What accomplishments are you most proud of?
Probably opening my business, Juggling with Grace. It takes a lot just to open a business, but there is also advertising and getting your name out there. I’m also proud that I broke seven balls before a year had even passed.
At this point I have to ask the obvious given your name and your usage with the juggling, am I safe to assume that faith plays a large role in your life/juggling or would that assumption be completely off?
Yes, it does, I like to use it for examples during the talks I give during my small group situations.
There are many jugglers who use a Christian message. Chris Fowler and myself both have fathers who are pastors and as such you will notice a lot of our videos shot inside of churches since they are also great places to practice! David Cain of course is another great example. How many of each type of props do you juggle?
I can juggle seven balls, six rings, and five clubs.
Do you specialize in any auxiliary props or non juggling circus arts?
No, not specialize, but I do mess around with devil sticks, or crystal sticks.
Crystal sticks sound like a drug from the Star Wars Universe, what exactly are they?
It’s another name for devil sticks, some people call devil sticks crystal sticks, it does sound like something in Star Wars though.
Generally speaking, do you wear socks while you juggle?
Yes I do, but I try to practice wearing shoes that I would wear while doing a show.
That’s actually a very practical answer. At what types of venues do you usually perform?
Schools are the most frequent and then small festivals around town.
Anything amusing or unique ever happen at one of these shows?
During one of the shows I did for an elementary school I dropped a ring off stage and the kids started fighting over who got to put it back on stage because who would miss out on touching a ring from the juggler? I had to break it up before they bent my ring.
Are you a clown?
No I am not a clown, never, never, ever.
What makes up a standard juggling practice for you?
After I stretch I usually do the basics of balls, rings, clubs, and then I work on specific tricks, then numbers, and finally end with improvisation time where I try to be as creative as possible. Then I stretch again. This routine would change a little while I would be filming.
What is it that will make you want to pick up your props tomorrow and keep juggling?
My mom, I want her to be proud of my accomplishments when I meet her. It is also a way for me to express myself and release stress so it is quite necessary at times.
What goals are you currently working towards?
I want to be able to express feelings and messages through my juggling, so I’m working on being more expressive in my body movement and juggling. I also want to teach other teens how to juggle so they can relax when they’re stressed.
I personally have found over the years of juggling, that it is no longer a way to combat stress. When I am feeling stressed and attempt to juggle it only makes matters worse as I’ll get into fights with my props for not doing what I want them to. Often I find that juggling is one of the most stressful things that I do because I have a vision in my mind that I want to see in the air. How do you ensure that your juggling remains a stress reliever and not fall into the same traps that I have?
I do fall into that trap sometimes but it’s usually when I am working on really hard tricks, and I work on hard tricks when I’m stressed because when I do nail the trick I feel very good. So when I start getting frustrated I just work on easier tricks and lower numbers.
Which prop is your favorite to juggle? Any specific reasoning?
I like clubs the most; there are so many possibilities with them, like spinning, manipulation, and normal juggling. They’re also a favorite of audiences.
Since you bring up the view of the audience, how important is it to you to keep in mind the appeal of the visuals for the audience during your practice? Do you find yourself a “performance” motivated juggler, or a “hobby’ motivated juggler?
Since I opened my entertaining business I have made sure that the routines I do are pleasing for both the audience to watch and for me to do
Are there any specific jugglers that inspire you?
A woman that I met at last years IJA named Melissa, she encouraged me to keep up juggling because she saw the potential in me.
Wes Peden is another inspiration to me I love his creativity.
Do you have any “claims to fame” in the juggling community?
Yes, last year I was awarded the Most Promising Female Juggler of 2007 by the Flamingo club.
Where do you see yourself in terms of juggling in a month, a year, 10 years?
In a month, in terms of numbers, I see myself solidifying my seven-ball cascade, along with six rings, and working on six clubs. In terms of artistic ability I will be working on making my body movement and juggling flow together. In a year, in terms of numbers, I see myself working on nine balls, seven or eight rings, and seven clubs. In terms of artistic ability, I hope to have a unique style and form. In ten years, whew, I hope to have a solid nine-ball cascade, a solid nine-ring cascade, and a solid seven-club cascade. I also hope to have plenty of performing experience and experiences under my belt, and to have a solidified creative style.
Lofty goals! I’m sensing an obvious passion for numbers juggling, but the creativity juices you are talking about makes me wonder about your lower numbers. What do you enjoy working on more? Also, which do you find it easier to be creative with?
I like lower numbers better because I can be more creative with the confidence I have with in my skill with lower numbers. I juggle numbers because I want women to be more respected in that area.
Art or Sport?
I think it depends on the mind-set of the person who will be juggling, for me I approach it with an artistic mind set, but to others it can be a sport, it’s up to them.
Balls, Beanbags, or Russians?
Sport juggling balls, I love them!
If there is one thing you would like the juggling community to know about you, what would it be?
I want to ultimately open a creative arts center where teens can come and learn art in all different forms, dancing, playing instruments, and even juggling. I want it to be a safe place where teens that have troubles can come and get counseling and learn how to deal with everyday stress and abuse by releasing their feelings through the arts that they can learn and develop at the center.
Dealing with stress as well as dealing with troubles is coming across as a very strong passion of yours. It is amazing that you have such clear life goals and aims while still being in your teens. I really hope everything works out for you the best that it can. I’m sure others will be interested in how everything works out for you, so be sure to keep us updated with everything over the next couple of years.