Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Jamie White

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

I’m Jamie White and I’m 22 years old. I’ve been juggling 2 years seriously, but knew how to juggle 3 balls in the shower pattern and a sloppy cascade since I was somewhere between the ages of 7 and 10. I also juggled the 4 ball shower a bit, probably for just over a qualify.

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 knew I was obsessed when I juggled near Posvar Hall on the lawn at the University of Pittsburgh in the summer of 2006. Seeing 5 and 7 ball patterns, including 5 ball siteswaps in person made me very motivated to keep at it. I also have always liked how it can be a social activity where you don’t really need to socialize.
I know what you mean. Jugglers have become experts at standing in a group and throwing their balls up in the air without bothering each other. Really, who else can claim that except for us?

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

3 pineapples, I guess. I qualified them at a store called “Aldi’s” quite some time ago.

What has your juggling career entailed so far?

I have only done 1 performance (a friend asked me to, I really did not want to or enjoy it) but have a couple paying gigs lined up this summer. I was kind of talked into doing them by other people though, and don’t really plan to pursue further juggling employment opportunities. If they come to me like these ones did though, I will probably do it again.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with being a hobby driven juggler, though I’m sure many will disagree with me on that point. I find that when I am practicing for performance I have to work on the audience pleasing tricks that aren’t necessarily the tricks I want to be working on at the time. Do you keep the audience in mind at all in your normal practice or would it be safe to assume that this is mainly a hobby for your personal enjoyment?

Thinking about it, it really is just the latter. I only thought of the audience when I was preparing for that performance and the audition for this upcoming thing (the Pittsburgh Regatta and Tour of Pennsylvania). I can say though, that juggling will not be a temporary thing for me like some hobbyist jugglers.

What accomplishments are you most proud of?

Skill-wise, probably 8 ball qualifies. Otherwise, I guess the performance I did because I did not drop.

How many of each type of props do you juggle?

This is always a hard question. I think I can call myself a 6 ball juggler but am not sure I can yet call myself a 7 ball juggler. Just to feel awesome, I will say 7 balls, 4 clubs, and I don’t do rings but did 5 in the past. I work on balls with 9/10ths of my time and clubs for the other tenth.

Considering your mentioning of your 8 ball qualifies just a moment ago, what do you prefer working on: “numbers” or 3-4 ball “tricks”? Do you prefer a creative approach to juggling more common in the low numbers, or do you prefer the high technicality of an 8 ball qualify?

I like the technical aspect of juggling but there are often patterns I like because of how they look or feel as well. I have been telling myself that 7 balls is enough, and once I get that relatively solid I’ll only work on 8+ balls occasionally. Actually, I don’t really work on 8+ balls anymore, due to arm pain, but that is slowly getting better. I work on getting lower numbered stuff smooth as much as I can because a solid pattern feels awesome. I also realize that numbers juggling can only go so far for anyone and if you want to keep juggling you should be able to appreciate and enjoy other aspects of it. For me, I think this will be how a pattern feels. Let me explain that. I think I will be able to continue juggling because of how patterns feel once they are solid and run-able. Certain patterns just feel awesome no matter how many balls or clubs there are.

Do you specialize in any auxiliary props or non juggling circus arts?


I realize that this is not at all juggling related, but do you have any other talents, skills or hobbies? I don’t want you getting off on that last question quite that easy.

Oh my. Well, I play piano and got into school on it for music composition. I also have a knack for mathematics and am double majoring in it.

Generally speaking, do you wear socks while you juggle?

Yeah almost all the time.

At what types of venues do you usually perform?

My one and only performance was at a school, Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA.

Anything amusing or unique ever happen at one of these shows?

Well, I did not know there were overhead lights at the show and when I went into 3 ball overheads was nearly blinded but survived.

Are you a clown?

No. If someone wants to be a clown that juggles, go ahead. I really don’t like the idea of jugglers being laughed at for juggling though. I think it is a skill that should be treated with the respect of other skills, like playing the piano or tennis.

Do you really think that a juggler should be held on the same level as a pianist? Surely a piano player would laugh at this hypothesis. How exactly can we as jugglers go about getting the “respect” we deserve?

This question is freaking awesome, because I just mentioned that I am a pianist in that other question and you did not know that. Anyway, I don’t laugh at that hypothesis at all (some pianists might, though). Of course jugglers should be thought of in the same regard, if not higher. The highest leveled jugglers, technically, have probably dedicated themselves to their craft as much as the best concert pianists. I think the main thing jugglers can do to garner respect is to just keep juggling and showing other people how to juggle. There are probably better measures, though.

Alright fair enough on me missing the piano part. Even David Stephens isn’t perfect.
What makes up a standard juggling practice for you?

I always stretch first, probably for like 2-5 minutes. Then I will do basic 3 ball stuff. Pirouettes, showers on both sides. Basically trying to do everything as solid as possible. Then I move on to 4 balls, again doing some shower stuff as well as possible on both sides. I don’t think about it much, but apparently I try to shower on both sides a lot. It really shows in the solidity of my right handed showers (I’m left handed) but unfortunately I have never really felt it transfer to other stuff...It’s just such a different trick that uses your brain in a different way, I think. I will do some 4 ball pirouettes, as well as possible. I will generally do 53 all 4 ways for a bit. I guess this is all part of my warm up. I had been doing overheads with 4 a lot, but my arms hurt and I have been avoiding them lately.

Then, I will move on to 5 balls where I guess my real practice begins. I feel bad because I don’t like to start this section of my practice without all the build-up stuff, but once I get here it feels good. Right now my obsession is 3 period 5 ball siteswaps like 753,744,645(both ways), and 663. I’ll also work on 3 ups into and out of these. Sometimes I will do a 5 up, but I don’t feel like I should try to solidify that one yet. I had also been getting overheads but haven’t done them lately. I generally work on stuff that people around me are working on because it is easier for me to understand the pattern.
The end of my practice usually consists of 7 ball cascade stuff, but lately I have been getting back to 6 ball stuff. I’m close to the 4 up and have gotten it cleanly in wimpy and synch, but I don’t think I have qualified after while doing it asynch yet.

You mention juggling with the people around you, is it safe to say that you juggle with others a lot? Obviously you are active in a juggling club.

I do juggle with the people at my club a lot. It is a very small juggling club, though, and right now there are only 3 regulars including myself.

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

Seeing videos and being motivated, but most of all the guys at my juggling club!

What goals are you currently working towards?

7 ball cascade over 100 catches and more consistent 30+ catch runs. I also work towards better endurance lately as my arms suck. This mostly consists of cardio (bike riding or running), pushups and crunches.

Which prop is your favorite to juggle? Any specific reasoning?

Balls/beanbags. Probably because they are my best prop. Also, I don’t juggle rings. I did for a couple months but did not really like them. I also have only done clubs on and off because the guy that motivates me to do clubs is only here in the summers.

Are there any specific jugglers that inspire you?

The most inspired I have ever been was by this video:
Otherwise, I am also inspired by seeing videos of people working on stuff I’m working on. This makes me motivated to go out and try it more. Pretty anti-original but I don’t think I am far along enough to go for my own style.

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

Not really. The “Pittsburgh Jugglers” series is pretty sweet, but I’m always doing sloppy stuff in them. I’m in Synergy I though! There is also a guy at my juggling club that is progressing insanely fast and might end up doing something with it.

Where do you see yourself in terms of juggling in a month, a year, 10 years?

In a month, probably about where I am right now. Hopefully my arms will be a bit stronger, cause right now I am taking frequent breaks.
In a year, I will hopefully be over 100 catches with 7 balls and have more consistency. I can do it if I practice more than I did last year while school was in session.
In 10 years...I don’t know.

Art or Sport?

It can be both but I see it much more from the sport perspective. I also see it as a social activity that falls into neither category, like a game.

Balls, Beanbags, or Russians?

I juggle beanbags most. I also like rice-filled tennis balls. I hate the feeling of stage balls.

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

I try really hard.

No comments: