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James Jay has performed professionally since 1992.
He learned to juggle in January of 1990 at Earlham College when he took a juggling class to fulfill a physical education requirement. Although his literature degree has yet to pay a penny,
his academic introduction to juggling has proven practical.
The Juggling Jukebox premiered in Seattle in 1993,
growing out of experiments with more traditional street shows the previous summer.
He originally developed the jukebox to street perform in the tight spots at Pike Place Market. [Click to History for more details.] Since then, the Juggling Jukebox has been modified to work in many other venues.
born in Indiana
first juggling shows, in Seattle WA
The Juggling Jukebox debuts
The high-tech Juggling Jukebox premieres
First performances in Germany as "Jonglierautomat"
Five Movements stage show opens
The Animated Blake appears
joined Circus Contraption, became a clown
moved to Berlin, Germany
An art grant funded the creation of the high-tech Juggling Jukebox in 1994.
The experience of this installation inspired Jay to pursue a sculpture degree at the University of Washington, where he studied video, dance, ceramics and the casting potentials of salt. His sculpture has been exhibited at Lead Gallery and the Bellevue Art Museum.
The fringe theater bug bit Jay in 1998 when he attended the Edinburgh Fringe Festival on the heels of the European Juggling Convention. The two events sparked a synchronicity of ideas that led Jay to expand some previous William Blake poetry-meets-juggling bits into a full-fledged theater work. The Animated Blake premiered at the Seattle Fringe Festival in March, 1999.
Circus Contraption was Jay's primary creative outlet for three years. Soon after Jay had begun collaborating with Colin Ernst and Gary Luke in 1998, the juggling trio met an aerialist (Lara Paxton) and composer (David Crellin) who had an eye for starting a cutting-edge circus. Jay learned new circus skills and enjoyed destroying his own clown stereotypes.
Jay created and played a cast of characters, including a boy pirate, an inept butcher, a nonsense preacher, a nude chair, and the sometimes silly but lovable Pavel Merzo. Jay contributed heavily to the group on the organizational level as well, drafting the nonprofit bylaws, serving as the first convener, and managing publicity.
Jay moved to Berlin in September of 2002, after 8 months of travel in Asia.