What is Contact Juggling?

The rise of contact juggling can be traced back to when it gained popularity after it was seen being performed by David Bowie in the classic movie Labyrinth.

When one hears the word “juggling”, the image of a circus act where a clown tosses multiple balls up into the air at once often comes to mind.

The traditional circus juggling includes acts such as juggling with knives, sticks, and even fire.

However, contact juggling is different from the traditional circus juggling in that the objects used never leave the hands or body of the juggler.

Despite its name, the balls are never really juggled in the air since the person juggling never releases them.

Contact juggling is an art form that can be quite intense and impressive for both the audience and the performer.

The object(s) used in contact juggling, usually glass balls, appear to glide effortlessly across the hands, arms, and shoulders of the person juggling.

Experienced contact jugglers can even balance the balls on their fingertips and make the object appear to defy gravity while being attached to a part of their hand or arm.

What are the different movements in contact juggling?

There are several movements in contact juggling that one can learn and have been widely used in the past.

Palm Rolling

While not the best movement to perform from a distance, palm rolling can impress one’s friends and is a great place to start.

With just one ball, try to roll it around your palm without dropping it.

Once you are comfortable, try adding an extra ball and then another.

Eventually, one can roll the balls on top of each other while balancing them on your palm.

One can also switch the balls to the other hand and move their hands around and over the balls to create an impressive illusion.

Head Rolling

Head rolling is one of the more challenging movements to master and not one that many beginners attempt.

It involves rolling the ball around the head and balancing it on specific points, such as the temples, the top of the head, the center of the forehead, or the eye socket.

While a very impressive move to perform to an audience, it takes an incredible amount of concentration.

Some jugglers are even able to perform the head roll while also doing palm rolling movements.


Isolation is one of the most recognizable types of contact juggling, and there are several movements that make the ball appear isolated from the juggler.

This is mainly achieved through sleight of hand techniques and exposing certain parts of the ball to the audience so that they cannot see it moving.

Michael Moschen is the man responsible for the introduction of contact juggling into popular culture.

His show Light in the 80s featured him using eight balls at the same time to carry out the act that soon became known as contact juggling.

In 1986, contact juggling became a part of Western culture and was featured in David Bowie’s movie “Labyrinth”. However, it was not Bowie who performed the act but Michael Moschen, who was credited for the crystal ball manipulation scene. In the 90s, contact juggling gained more attention and people started performing it themselves. This led to debates about the intellectual copyright of Michael Moschen being stolen by certain individuals and groups. Despite this, books, DVDs, and magazines were published, further increasing its popularity. Contact juggling can now be seen on popular TV shows like “America’s Got Talent” and has been employed by famous companies like “Cirque du Soleil” in their circus shows.


1. What is Contact Juggling?

Contact Juggling is a form of juggling that involves manipulating one or more balls while keeping them in contact with different parts of the body, such as hands, arms, and even the head. Unlike traditional juggling, contact juggling emphasizes smooth and fluid movements, creating the illusion that the ball is floating or moving on its own.

2. How did Contact Juggling start?

Contact Juggling was popularized by Michael Moschen, a performer who developed his own style of juggling in the 1980s. Moschen’s performances, which featured crystal balls, became widely known after he appeared in David Bowie’s “Labyrinth” movie. Since then, Contact Juggling has gained a following and evolved into its own distinct art form.

3. What are the benefits of Contact Juggling?

Contact Juggling can improve hand-eye coordination, balance, and concentration. It is also a great way to relieve stress and improve overall physical fitness. Additionally, it can be a fun way to express creativity and showcase one’s artistic abilities.

4. What kind of balls are used in Contact Juggling?

Most Contact Jugglers use acrylic or stage balls, which are lightweight, durable, and have a smooth surface that makes them easy to manipulate and control. Some Contact Jugglers also use silicone balls or even glass balls for a more dramatic effect.

5. How long does it take to learn Contact Juggling?

The time it takes to learn Contact Juggling varies depending on the individual’s skill level, dedication, and natural ability. Some people may pick it up quickly, while others may take months or even years to master the techniques. Consistent practice and patience are key to becoming proficient at Contact Juggling.

6. Is Contact Juggling dangerous?

Contact Juggling can be dangerous if proper safety precautions are not taken. Dropping a heavy ball on one’s foot or head can cause injury, and performing tricks that involve fire or sharp objects should only be attempted by experienced performers. It is important to start with lighter balls and practice in a safe, open space.

7. Can Contact Juggling be performed solo or with a partner?

Contact Juggling can be performed both solo and with a partner. Solo performances usually involve one performer manipulating one or more balls, while partner performances involve two or more performers interacting with each other while juggling.

8. Is Contact Juggling a competitive sport?

Contact Juggling is not typically considered a competitive sport, although there are occasional competitions and events where performers can showcase their skills and compete for prizes. However, most Contact Jugglers view it as a form of self-expression and art rather than a competitive activity.

9. Where can I learn Contact Juggling?

There are many resources available for learning Contact Juggling, including online tutorials, instructional videos, and classes offered by local juggling clubs or circus schools. It is important to start with basic techniques and gradually progress to more advanced tricks, always practicing safety and proper form.

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