Luke is a star professional juggler. He provides insight into the peculiar life of a juggler and explains the latest trends within the live arts in general.
In Berlin I went to juggle at a corporate trade show. It was a urology conference (urology is a branch of medicine and physiology concerned with the function and disorders of the urinary system). My show was just the normal routine and I had to hand out bean bags to kids and stuff, then behind me was a huge screen and on that screen was the looping animation image of an inflatable penile implant, which goes erect when you pump it up. For the entirety of my show there was a huge digital phallus behind my face repeatedly going erect to floppy to erect. It got worse. The next day the screen promoted vaginal surgery and it was a similarly strange effect with a continuously spreading and tightening digital vagina.
I started juggling when I was eleven. My father took my brother and I to a juggling workshop for fun. At first it was just something to do in the summer holidays, but at university I had time to practice a lot. I studied performing arts and always thought I’d be some kind of actor, but after university I got more into music and found a job as a sound engineer for a television company. After a while I decided to leave my job, and during the time I had free, I realised I quite liked a more unusual schedule. I never wanted to go back to a normal nine to five. So I started juggling as a full-time profession. I was broke for a while but I made the right decision, being a performer was always what I wanted to do deep down.
Juggling is one of those rare activities where you’re constantly performing new tricks in public. Some crowds want to see more classic routines that impress. In contrast, the juggling community wants to see new and more intricate tricks. Modern jugglers have to be flexible with their work and have to be able to adapt and add new elements into their work such as theatre, multimedia (like I do), and new props. Innovation is good. It’s important for the evolution of juggling. We keep it fresh.
The Internet has changed juggling, elevating the game. People now can upload their own routine in minutes and have an audience of thousands. This means the flow of knowledge is faster than ever and kids can gain inspiration to innovate. There is a whole new era of moves and it’s hard to keep up. Tricks I used to think were quite hard have become standardised.
I see myself as a creative person – it’s my inspiration. It’s how I find structure and it’s why I’m a professional juggler. However I’m not one that believes that everyone has to be creative. Some are better off being imitators who can practice and perform better technically than they can develop new ideas. I’m not a fan of people being creative just for sake of it.
I think in the future live performance will get bigger and more impressive. People want something else to talk about. Audiences are becoming more selective for live shows. The line between live and pre-recorded performances have been blurred and will continue to be. Doing a T.V show as a juggler used to be a big deal, but now I could do a street show and get ten times the exposure online. People seem to be craving more entertainment that is suited directly to them, whether that’s live or pre-recorded. Live performance doesn’t mean it has to take place in front of your eyes; human interaction is now virtual and interactive.