Pendulum juggling

by Pascal Jacob

A small object in the shape of a sphere or cone, suspended from a wire that allows waves to be detected by its oscillations, the pendulum is a medium for divination. This singular movement was questioned in Florence in the 16th century, but it was the French physicist Léon Foucault (1819-1868) who highlighted the principle of the Earth's rotation by hanging his pendulum under the dome of the Pantheon in 1851. This "pendulum" trajectory inspired juggler Jörg Müller to create Mobile in 1994, a manipulation sequence based on five metal tubes of different lengths suspended from a single hanging point several metres high. The sound environment, designed as an intuitive score, is produced by the tubes themselves. The sounds they produce by being struck or touched by the manipulator transformed into a prodigious instrumentalist, punctuate the development and structure of the piece. This is a stunning project, offering both technical and graphic possibilities, but above all it modifies the conjuring dimension of juggling, which aims to avoid a drop and move the virtuosity to another level.


The challenge of pendulum juggling moves towards the notion of avoidance by assuming control of objects to prevent them from colliding. With Universe, a number created for him by Viktor Kee, Viktor Moiseev assumes a magical perception of manipulation by juggling horizontally with his red spheres that surround him and propels him into a hypnotic whirlwind. This notion of invisibility of the supports largely contributes to the strength of Ehrlich Ocampo's offer, a synthesis between acrobatics, dance and manipulation of glow sticks, strange vertical fireflies that seem to avoid him and obey him at the same time.



As a pretext for writing a show or a simple sequence, pendulum juggling is sometimes integrated into the repertoire of certain troupes, as is the case with Kervan Cie, which uses it as a poetic parenthesis at the heart of a succession of acrobatic, choreographic and spectacular productions. This is also the case for Magnétic, a creation by Jérôme Thomas for four jugglers where pendulum manipulation contributes to the visual magic of a remarkable piece.