The airy performance space at the Boulder Circus Center was a whirl of color and motion on Sunday, the last day of the 15th annual Boulder Juggling Festival.
A trio, including a woman on a casterboard, tossed clubs back and forth in the middle of the floor. Next to them, a man worked on YoYo tricks, while a duo practiced juggling balls. In a corner, others created a colorful sand painting using everything from juggling props to their own glasses and jewelry as part of a workshop.
“The festival is a great place to learn new skills you probably wouldn’t learn anywhere else,” said Boulder’s Adam Coleman, who started juggling about a year ago and is a regular at the Circus Center’s weekly juggling club. “People here will teach you any skills you want to learn. It’s a great community.”
Boulder’s Cindy Marvell founded the Boulder Circus Center in 2004, and started the Boulder Juggling Festival soon after. This weekend’s festival featured workshops, an open gym and a Saturday night public performance by a mix of local and national circus artists.
Marvell, who became the first woman to win the International Jugglers’ Association Championship in 1989 and toured professionally for many years, taught a class Sunday on flow arts — such as hula hooping and staff twirling — for jugglers.
She said flow arts have integrated into the more traditional circus arts, increasing interest from those with theater and dance backgrounds.
At the festival, those who juggle the classic balls, clubs and rings mingled with those who prefer more exotic items. Saturday night included juggling with fire props, while workshops offered instruction in Slinky manipulation, using bullwhips and the neuroscience of juggling.
Kayla Kinch, one of the festival’s organizers, performed hat juggling on a trapeze on Saturday and taught an intro to hat juggling class.
“I’m a juggler and an aerialist, so all things circus are my favorite,” she said, noting a friend introduced her to juggling in high school.
She said those who have felt out of place in other communities can find a home in the tight-knit juggling and circus community.
“It’s a lot of really exuberant people,” she said. “It’s basically adults who want to continue to be goofy.”
The festival, organizers said, also is an opportunity to see and learn from cutting-edge performers.
Anni Küpper, a professional juggler who was one of two guest teachers and performers from Germany at the festival, taught some of her graceful tricks with clubs at a Sunday workshop. One of those tricks was “spotting a bird,” rolling a club along the inside of the arm and catching it with other hand behind the back.
As the participants tried the move, she offered encouragement and advice, from urging people to maintain steady “ballerina” posed arms to starting the club lower on the arm to keep it balanced.
Noah Schmeissner, who won the festival’s “circus arts award” for his advanced work juggling rings, drove here from Kansas after graduating from college on Friday. He said he taught himself to juggle rings, balls and clubs with the help of YouTube tutorials.
“You get addicted to juggling,” he said.