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Jugglers of the world gather in Cedar Rapids for 75th international juggling festival


2022 International Jugglers Association Conference

Cedar Rapids -- July 11-17


Los Muertos Crew/Pexels

Juggling enthusiasts of the CRANDIC are in luck as professional jugglers across the globe head to Cedar Rapids this week for the 75th annual International Jugglers Association Conference.

The convention runs from Tuesday to Sunday and features performances, workshops and competitions.

Performer and instructor Luther Bangert began juggling when he was a philosophy student at the University of Iowa in 2005, and says he became obsessed. In 2013, Bangert broke a world record for most things juggled while swallowing a sword.

“I think it’s kind of a philosophical activity because it’s so absurd that you kind of have to think about it constantly,” Bangert said. “You just drop things on the ground over and over again while you’re there like, why am I doing this?”

The first juggling conference Bangert attended was in Madison, Wisconsin, and he’s gone on to perform at several over the years. Four years after he started juggling, he traveled to Germany for the European Juggling Convention.

“It was really transformative for me because there, juggling is a lot more readily considered art and dance, and circus in general is more considered to be an art form,” Bangert said. “So that was mind-blowing and it was my first time out of the United States.”

This will be Bangert’s second time attending the International Jugglers Association conference; the first was in 2017 when the event was last held in Cedar Rapids. At these gatherings, jugglers are able to meet people in their craft from around the world and research different performance techniques, Bangert said.

“Like an niche indie community, it’s just really cool to meet up and and be like, ‘Oh, wow we can speak the same language’ and like, ‘You’ve tried to do behind the back throw for five years like I have,’ and all kinds of really ridiculous little things that you never get to talk to that many people about,” he said.

Advance registration for the conference was limited to IJA members, but juggling spectators can purchase day passes on-site for $7. The conference schedule can be viewed online. Proof of COVID-19 vaccination or proof of a negative COVID test processed by a lab, clinic or pharmacy within the last 72 hours is required for entry. The IJA strongly encourages mask-wearing as well.

Bangert will be performing at the welcome show on Tuesday night at the Paramount Theatre and teaching a workshop on Wednesday titled Juggling and Movement – Searching for New Spaces.

“There are a few jugglers that I’ve never met that are going to be there that I’m really excited to see teaching some workshops too, because they have really unique style,” Bangert said.

“This is only my second of these festivals but there’s a lot of people that have gone every year for decades and I haven’t been able to really interact with that community that deeply before, so I’m also really excited to be there for that.”


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