Circus Skills - Small Scale

Small-scale manipulation skills involve manipulating various smaller objects, often more than one at a time. In this category we have put slightly more advanced skills such as:

Devil Sticks/Lunastyx/Flowersticks: this prop consists of three sticks, two are held in the hands (hand sticks) and one bigger prop is weighted (devil/luna/flower) which is manipulated into tricks using the two hand sticks.

Poi: involves creating swinging patterns with two heavy objects on a rope or chain. You build up tricks from simple circles to complex weaves and flower patterns, where the left and right hands have to do different things.

Juggling: is the art of keeping three or more objects moving through the air at the same time.


To be successful

Advice or tips to help you

1 Juggling

3-ball cascade

Decide on which hand to throw the first ball from

- Start from the hand you naturally write or lead with.

- Then, practise throwing the first ball from the hand that is holding two balls.

- Start from a different hand each time.

Improve the way you pass the ball

- Make sure the balls are always being thrown up and over to the opposite hand, not just being passed.

Throw to different heights

Throw the balls just above eye line from both hands.


Body position

Check the gap between both hands

- Have your hands shoulder-width apart.

Ensure the distance of your hands from your body is correct

- Have your elbows at 90 degrees by the sides of your hips.

Keep your back and foot positions steady

- Keep your back straight and feet a little bit more than shoulder-width apart.



Throw one club

- Throw the club using your forearm.

- Do not throw the club using just your wrist.

Hold two clubs in one hand

- Hold one club with your middle finger, ring finger and middle finger

- Have your index finger opposite to the three fingers on the other side of the handle next to your thumb.

- Place the second club in between your thumb and index finger so that it rests on the first club's handle.

Use the three clubs

- Spin the clubs at the same speed and height from both hands.



Build up a new trick gradually

- Break the trick down first by going back to the basics of that trick.

- Use one ball to help do this and work up.

Concentrate when performing your tricks

- Really think when you are learning a new trick and take in what you are not doing right so that you can correct your mistakes.

Practise hard

- Regular practice, even if only ten minutes a day, will improve your juggling.

- Once a week will improve your skills much less.



Getting started

Give yourself enough space

- Check around you and be sure you can turn the poi in an arc all around you before starting.

Grip the poi correctly

- If your poi have finger loops, make sure you have your pointy and middle fingers through them.

Make sure your poi are the correct length

- Some poi are adjustable and some will wrap around your hand. Make sure your poi do not hit the floor when they swing but are long enough to circle around your body.


Planes and further tricks

Spin the poi in planes

- Try to spin the poi forward in the three different planes.


- Now try swinging the poi backwards in the three planes. Make sure the planes are straight.

Perform further tricks

- Using these basic principles, you can progress to some tricks. Check websites such as Youtube or other video-sharing websites for demonstrations.


Moving with poi

Use different levels

- Practise doing all three planes with the poi while kneeling down, or going on tip toe, to get different heights.

Turn with the poi

Using one poi at first, try half turns with your whole body in both directions.

Split-time the poi

- Using wheel plane, start one poi going faster so the other poi is chasing it, a half turn behind.


Devil stick

Getting started

Idle with hands

- Place devil stick vertically on the floor.

- Kneel on the floor and hit top half back and forth from each hand.

- Try to do the hits in a rhythm and always think about catching it first then throwing it from each hand.

Idle with hand sticks

- Same as above, just use the hand sticks instead of your hands.

Idle standing

- It is important to catch the devil stick first before hitting it back.

- Do not just hit back, catch it softly first.

- Try and make the catching stick meet the devil stick halfway, catch it softly and then throw it back.

- Hit it back and forth in rhythm.


Picking the devil stick up

Pick up with one hand stick

- Roll the devil stick with one of your hand sticks onto the other hand stick, then pick it up straight into the idle.

Pick up with two hand sticks

- Use both hand sticks to roll the devil stick towards yourself, then pick it up using both hand sticks.

Kick up

- Put the devil stick on your foot.

- Hook it between the upper side of your foot and your shin and move your foot out- and upwards and kick up the stick.



Perform a double hit

- This is the idle but using both hand sticks at the same time.

- When one hand stick hits the top half on one side, the other hand stick hits the bottom half at the same time on the other side.

Perform the cross arms trick

- Put the devil stick horizontally on both hand sticks.

- Throw it up into the air.

- Cross your arms over, then catch the devil stick with your arms crossed.

- Throw the devil stick into the air from this position.

- Uncross arms and catch the devil stick.

Perform a half flip

- Put the devil stick horizontally on both hand sticks.

- Throw the devil stick, pushing one side more than the other up into the air. After half a spin, catch it on the sticks.