@jackkalvan luckily luke wilson figured out what a drop was years and years ago-
in the juggling of today, a drop is a failure of intention.
that a drop means something literally hits the floor, is a very antiquated idea. there are several factors contributing to the evolution of the meaning of the word drop, but mainly they are technical ones. with the discovery of lots of new tricks where the props never lose contact with the body, and a new focus on aesthetics (flow arts), a drop is anything which you did not intend to happen with the juggling pattern. i personally think we could all come up with a better word, which is more fitting for the juggling we do now. to still use the word drop, has such a strong historical and also literal meaning, and its very clunky to use in actual conversation. even things like judging the IJA stage championships, it gets very confusing over what is considered a drop or not, because the word drop itself generally means “to fall down” or something like that.
@jackkalvan your example over on arthur’s thread:
i would say has even more risk of dropping than a normal ball toss juggling technique. because if he misses a ball then the strings could get tangled and therefore the consequence of dropping (missing, making a mistake) is much higher. if i am juggling unattached balls and i drop one, i just recover it in whatever way i need to, and start again. sure, it can even have rolled away or bounced away but the object doesn’t usually affect the other objects. in the video above, even one tiny mistake with one object can be disastrous for the rest. and the reset time to get it all going again would be enormous as compared to regular toss juggling? of course all of this brings up other related words… risk, mistake, miss. and i think those are also unclear as to how we all use them, even to ourselves, let alone in talking to others.
another fun conversation to have in the context of what is a drop- the 2 flashes of 9 clubs…first, we have emil’s:
then, we have willy’s:
in both videos, no clubs hit the floor. however, using luke’s interpretation of how people use the word drop now, one could argue that willy had a lot of drops in that he didn’t catch the clubs by the handle. and that it was his intention to catch them by the handle. and maybe even that by the pure design of the props itself, just by the fact that it has a handle, points in some direction about what will be considered a success or failure?
personally i am not bothered by willy’s video. you can say that a 9 club flash is “all the clubs go in a crossing pattern, with an equal amount of spins, and are all caught in the hands cleanly,” or however much more detail you want to throw in there. or, you can say a 9 club flash is “throwing them all up one at a time and catching them.” in that case there needs to be no discernible pattern, just as long as multiplexing isn’t used. i think willy didn’t drop because it was never his intention to catch them all by the handle. if you look at his older videos, he clearly demonstrates his style is to use the handle as an option equally to catching it in whatever way he physically can. if anything emil drops because the last club is a triple spin and not a quad, and clearly emil has a different set of intentions than willy. so who dropped? emil, willy, both, or neither?
obviously a 9 club flash is more on the upper limit of what we think is currently possible with juggling. maybe i am more forgiving for this reason. but when i watch other videos and someone catches a wrong end of a club i always think to myself “just film it again!” especially when its clear they can do the trick with minimal effort. for me then a drop is what luke says, any failure of intention. and yes, i know you can catch a club by “the wrong end” on purpose, but then that is usually demonstrated and communicated by what kind of technique is chosen.
I’d call a failure of intention a mistake.
I know a mistake in that act could be disastrous, but my point in posting that video was to try to determine if dropping (or even mistakes) need to be talked about when describing juggling.
Even if I imagine they are magic balls that always fly back to him perfectly without colliding, even if there was no chance of dropping or mistakes, The throwing and catching aspects would still make it juggling for me.
Maybe it’s just me, but the technique is what makes it juggling for me.
And it is only determined by technique you do, not what could happen if you made a mistake.
And in the cases of the 9 club flashes, I’d say they were both successful. Their intention was just to catch them all. Maybe later, when they are performing it, their intention would be to do it with perfect spins.
Though if your intention is to be perfect, you will fail every time!
ok cool! thanks for your thoughts! out of curiosity, how do you talk to your friends about juggling then in relation to drops? do you actively talk about both drops and mistakes? for example if you were watching the IJA competitions would you say “great act, shame she had 3 drops and 4 mistakes?”
i think there are lots of people like you who define a drop as something hitting the ground. but i also think there’s a whole other group of people who define a drop as a failure of intention. and yet even another group of people who have never thought twice about how they use the word. to that end, that group of people probably has never thought about a failure of intention as a mistake. i wonder if there are more obvious groups to find in the general landscape out there?
A drop or a mistake is not part of the mechanism (or combination of events, or what you want to call it) that juggling is, more than what stopping running is, in terms of running. Dropping or mistakes however, is part of what the metaphor of juggling tries to avoid, which is a difference to, for an example running. The main point of running isn’t to “not fall down” or “not stopping”. Perhaps it is “to get to point A to point B in a specific manner”, but even that is unclear, because you can run on a treadmill.
The metaphor of juggling though, with the house wife that “juggles her marriage, career and children” USES juggling to keep these three factors sustained (“avoiding an approaching collapse”, is what I have been trying to generically call this situation in the past). So the “avoiding collapse” is not part of the mechanism, but it is the hoped outcome of said mechanism, at least metaphorically. The hoped outcome of running, isn’t to “avoid falling down”.
You could of course flip it around, and say that the hoped outcome isn’t to avoid failure, but to keep the tasks(whatever they are – housewifing, throwing objects, etc) going. But juggling is special in that regard as well, because there is already a way to take care of a marriage, or children. Juggling is the way to combine these tasks, when you are only one person that can takes care of one thing. Juggling is the proper interlace of attendance shifts, that makes you be at the necessary place attending, at the right time. In the case of running, there is no “running version B” like that.
Perhaps we could look at it like this: Dropping (mistakes, failure of intent, etc) is not part of the actual mechanism that juggling is, but avoiding them is a driving factor of said mechanism.
It is not part of juggling, but it is the force that pushes it forward.
Another thing that might be worth pointing out is that this thread turned out to be a discussion about two topics:
- What is a drop?
- What significance does a drop hold in the definition of juggling?
@instantjuggler Jay, I share your definition of drops: A drop is a failure of intention.
There’s tiny drops, big drops and everything in between.
The more detailed my intentions are, the more detailed my criticism to the juggling will be. It’s not black and white, it’s a scale of mistakes. And based on what level my juggling with a certain technique are I will determine how detailed I will be in my intention: The better I am at something (juggling), the higher expectations I will have on that thing (juggling).
That is the most helpful view I’ve found so far.
Hey, we’ve come back to a previous way we look at it differently…
You’re thinking a juggler throws to avoid the approaching collapse of dropping or catching two things in one hand. Emptying the hand in order to make the next catch.
I’m thinking the juggler usually throws because that’s what he planned to do. The juggler plans to do a skill, and then uses the timing of throws and catches he learned from experience to execute it.
I don’t know if there’s any way to solve this. Maybe OE readers could vote on what they think?
Yeah pretty much. If you failed to make a catch and it hits the floor, it’s a drop.
If you just had to change your plan, it’s a mistake.
But depending on your goal, you can turn a drop or a mistake into a success! You may be able to “cover your drop” or “cover your mistakes” with some clever improvised movement or a funny drop line. You’ll find out if you were successful from the audience reaction, or maybe by asking later if they noticed any mistakes.
No. I think the juggler throws because he planned to/chooses to, but let me elaborate on that. When I say that a throw is forced, I do not mean that we are forced to throw at a specific point in time. I mean that we are forced to throw SOMETIME, within a specific slot of time, where several throw possibilities exist, if we want to keep juggling. We choose to throw, but our choice is limited to said time slot, and our freedom of choice only exists within its boundaries. The throw happens in conjunction with an incoming object, which results in that a new, identical situation can take place. An unbroken chain of such events is default juggling, vanilla juggling or whatever you choose to call it.
You also plan when you throw 2 balls up and down without crossing, or even just 1. But that is not sufficient, it is not relatable to the housewife juggling career, children and husband. She might plan to attend to her child, but if she does not do it within a specific slot of time, the situation will derail. She is forced to switch between her tasks, perhaps not exactly at the time she chooses to do so, but within a certain spectrum. The higher the number of tasks this attention distribution has to span over, the more constrained her freedom becomes, of when she needs to switch task.
Giving this some more thought, I realized that in juggling, you are forced to throw in two different ways, and we have only dealt with one so far.
The first one (that we have talked about already) is, when there is an incoming object towards a hand that already holds an object, and the objective is to never have more than one object in your hand, you are forced to throw the held ball before the incoming ball gets too close. I agree with Jack that you do not wait until the very last moment (you could, but we generally do not), we choose to throw, or we plan to throw, however you want to call it. We choose to throw, but do so, within a very restricted time slot, containing several opportunities to do so that we can choose between. This is where our (restricted) choice takes place. The time slot is forced, but the exact time is by choice, inside that forced time slot. I hope that Jack agrees with this now.
The other way we are forced to throw, which I feel that we have not yet discussed, is from the perspective of the pattern as a whole. You are forced to keep throwing at a certain rhythm, otherwise the pattern starts becoming unstable. If the rhythm becomes too off, that will lead to a collapse, either by collision, or by dropping. The rhythm is not dead set. Again, there is a time slot consisting of several possibilities, we can choose from. Within those, exists our arbitrary choice to throw. There is a small spectrum of time where we can syncopate our throwing rhythm, but it becomes narrower and narrower, the more objects are shared between the number of hands. Compare for an example a three ball cascade, where you can play around with the rhythm of throwing quite a bit, with a five ball cascade, which is much more constrained. In a three ball cascade, you only have to care about force 1. In a five ball cascade, if you decide to throw within the time restriction that force 1 provides, you might be successful in terms of that one case of throw/catch, but if you do not take force 2 into account, your throw might have been outside of the rhythm of what force 2 allows. So if both force 1 and 2 are present (which I believe when the number of objects/tasks is N+3 or more) our time slot of choices decreases significantly. Is this clear to you Jack?
that’s good to know- i don’t think i’ve met anyone i can recall who actively uses the word mistake. but now that i am aware of it, i hope to find others and also become aware of the other variations out there.
one small detail to respond to- its my fault because i gave the IJA stage championships as an example, and that is a performance based event. but i do agree you can recover from a drop or mistake and turn it into a success, though if we are talking about juggling only then that can’t be with a funny drop line. it can be through an improvised technique such as you suggested. but when entering the territory of drop lines, we are talking about performing/entertaining and using juggling as a vehicle to carry the performance to get a desired audience reaction, along with several other techniques such as theater, story telling, clowning, character work, music, dance, poetry, etc. etc. i can certainly see where you’re going with this though- performing juggling is sometimes very similar to just juggling. my point is that now i have brought up this idea about intention and curiously, i think that we take for granted that we won’t mess up as our main intention. whereas if we focus on performing, the main intention is to, as you say, be successful according to the audience reaction… which in many cases has absolutely nothing to do with being technically perfect, it only has to do with how you present your material and react to the situation you are in on stage?
I do say, “I made a few mistakes” when referring to a juggling act. But more commonly, I’d say I was “a little sloppy” if nothing hit the floor but I had to change my throwing and catching or my footwork from what was planned.
I’d say Willy’s 9 club flash was sloppy, but he got it.
I’d say Emil’s 9 club flash was pretty clean.
I agree with all you wrote. I was talking about performing juggling. If your intention is to flash 9 clubs and #8 hits the floor, there is no way to fix that and say it was a success. If you managed to catch it between your knees and then make the rest of the catches with your hands. I would say you got it, but it was very sloppy.
i wonder what the actual definition of a flash is in terms of what body parts can be used to catch? for example, if someone did catch between their legs, is that allowed? and extending that, if you look at willy’s method, he’s using his whole arms and chest/body. could it be possible actually use more of your body to catch to make flashing higher numbers easier if such techniques were considered valid?
I think the IJA numbers competition stops counting catches when something hits the floor. And I think you are allowed to catch using other parts of your body. Scott and David Cain could answer better.
I agree that you have a narrow time slot to empty a hand before a ball comes down and you can choose where in the slot you actually throw. I see how this could be seen as being forced to throw before the other ball comes down.
Now suppose you plan on juggling 2 balls in the pattern [4,0][0,4] with the rhythm that each throw is made when the other ball reaches the peak. Although there is not the risk of catching two balls in one hand (an arbitrary constraint because sometimes multiplexing is allowed), there is the risk of losing the rhythm of the pattern (an equally arbitrary constraint).
This is more like the planned throwing that I was talking about. The juggler knows (before he even starts) the timing of the throws and catches that make it all work.
Would you say a musician is forced by the rhythm of a song to hit each note at the right time?
The timing of each note is crucial to the success of playing the song.
Another way you might say jugglers are forced is by the position (not timing) of the balls. Variation in positions of the falling balls force you to reach for them to catch.
I see these forces as more like bending the plan.
(This discussion now seems to be in the wrong thread.)
Great! finally we understand each other then. I agree that we choose to juggle, but after that decision has been made, we are forced by the consequences of that decision and what it contains. I want to point out again that “forced” was a term I made up to be able to talk about a property that exists in the situation where an incoming object is switched for the object already in the hand. Or when a task is “approaching a collapse” of some sort (ex: baby is about to cry, husband is hungry/will divorce, gotta get to the job in time) which forces us to attend to it, within a narrow time slot of opportunities that we can choose from. The word “forced” suggest a certain meaning, and I feel that it gives the gist of the situation better, than “planned” which, although present, only was initial. Personally, I think it is ok to disregard the decisions made in order for the juggling to be possible initially. We can disregard getting our props out of the prop bag, we can disregard breathing, standing, looking, having the lights on and so forth. I guess I am cutting it as narrow as I can when I also disregard the aspect that we make the decision to juggle to begin with. So I chose the word “forced” to represent this concept. Perhaps not perfect, but good enough, and we have now cleared up what is meant by it.
I fully agree with all of this. There are a number of different concepts at play here. Is it not reasonable then, that we categorize them separately? I suggest we leave the specific activity of juggling alone for a bit, and instead try to describe the different concepts that are at play in the various forms of activities that exist in the genre of juggling.
Yes, but it is a different type of force than force 1 and 2 that I differentiate between in juggling. Because if the musician does not hit the notes perfectly, one might still recognize some kind of song, it does not cease. In the case of the juggler, the juggling will collapse if not kept within the constraints of force 1 and 2. I would liken it to the juggler who juggles with a syncopated rhythm, when a steady rhythm is desired. So the force then is not about succeeding to keep the pattern from collapsing, but to keep it in a certain rhythm, and that is what the musician attempts as well. So lets call that force 3 for now, which would then be the force that keeps us within our intent, within the spectrum that reaches up to, but not into, collapse. We would say, the juggler’s pattern is not clean maybe? the musician is out of rhythm?
Sure, I would agree that you have to put your hand in the right place, and you have to throw to a place that is within your reach. I am not sure this is essential in our description though. Would you include in the definition of playing a guitar, that you have to hit the string with your pick? Is it not something we can disregard?
I agree that this discussion belongs in another thread. I will post this same thing in the definition of juggling thread, so let us continue that there, and keep this thread for discussing drops.