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2016 - Stage Championships Rules
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About the IJA Stage Championships

The IJA Stage Championships is a prestigious international competition recognizing top-level entertainment by offering medals and prize money for juggling performances. The goal of the IJA Stage Championships is to reward a stage-performed juggling act that is entertaining and marketable to a broad audience.

The IJA Stage Championships finals are held every year during the annual IJA Festival. Tickets for the final round of competitions are sold to the public.

The IJA Stage Championships consist of three events:

  1. Individuals – solo juggling routines
  2. Teams – routines involving two or more jugglers
  3. Juniors – solo juggling routines for jugglers under 18 years old

Medals & Prize Money
The 2016 prize money for the IJA Stage Championships has been generously augmented by two anonymous donors. In addition to the rewards that the IJA provides, we are grateful to iiWii and Unna Med for their significant contributions. The amounts listed below show the totals that the winners will receive.

        Individuals       Teams       Juniors
First Place - Gold Medal $10,000 $10,000 $2,000
Second Place - Silver Medal $4,000 $4,000 $800
Third Place - Bronze Medal $2,000 $2,000 $400


In addition to these monetary rewards, winners are presented with medals, and the name of the Individuals Gold medal winner will be inscribed on the IJA Stage Championships trophy.

The prize money for teams is to be shared among the team members, regardless of the number of jugglers in the team. For example, a prize of $10,000 for a team act means that the team receives $10,000, not that each team member receives $10,000.

If only two entrants qualify for the finals in any event, then no third place medal or third place prize money will be awarded in that event. If only one entrant qualifies for the finals in any event, then that entrant wins the gold medal and associated prizes, and no second or third place medals or prizes are awarded in that event.

If there is an exact tie for first, second, or third place – even after the tie-breaker is applied (see “Scoring” section below) – then the appropriate higher medal will be awarded to all tied entrants, while prize money for multiple places will be split among the tied entrants. For example, in the event of a two-way tie for first place in Individuals, each of the two first-place competitors would receive a Gold medal plus $7,000 (i.e. half of $10,000 for first, plus half of $4,000 for second); no Silver medal would be awarded; and the Bronze and $2,000 would be awarded as normal to the third-place competitor.

All monetary prizes for IJA competitions are in US dollars and will only be paid via check, PayPal, or bank/wire transfer. Prize winners will need to supply the necessary information for their chosen form of payment. The IJA will need the following for each payment type:

  • Check: Legal first and last name or legal business name
  • PayPal: The email address associated with the recipient’s PayPal account
  • Bank/wire transfer: Legal first and last name or legal business name; bank name, address, phone number; the routing number (the number that identifies the bank); and the winner’s account number

Any questions regarding payment of prize money should be directed to the Stage Championships director, the treasurer of the IJA, or the chair of the IJA.

Applying to Compete
IJA competitions are open to all, regardless of race, nationality, sex, sexual orientation, or age. The only exception is that entrants in the Juniors event must be under 18 years old on the day of the competition and have neither qualified for nor competed in the Individuals event in past IJA Stage Championships. No one may enter both the Individuals and Juniors events in the same year. No one person may enter as a member of more than one team in any year. Competing in the same year both as a member of a team and as a junior or individual entrant is allowable. All entrants must be IJA members at the time of competition. No team member change (addition, deletion, substitution) is allowed between preliminary competition and final competition.

Applications closed on April 1, 2016. Good luck to all the competitors! Watch your IJA newsletter for the list of finalists.

About the Venue
The 2016 IJA Stage Championships will take place in the Plaza Theater, El Paso, TX. Opened in 1930, the Plaza was billed as the largest theater between Dallas and Los Angeles. After a period of decline, it has been restored twice, reopening as functional in 1990 and restored to its original grandeur in 2006. It routinely books touring Broadway productions and major concerts. At 2,050-seats, it’s the largest IJA venue in recent memory.

Competitors may find it helpful to know that the performing area is approximately 36 ft wide by 30 ft deep (11 x 9 meters). There is an additional 3 feet forward of the proscenium. We are hoping to provide 25 ft (7.6 meters) height, but the exact height available will depend on the lighting needs of the show.

Find out more and see pictures at http://elpasolive.com/venues/plaza_theatre

The IJA uses an all-online video preliminary system. The preferred video URL source is YouTube. Under “Broadcasting and Sharing Options,” use the “Unlisted” Privacy Option. This allows privacy from public viewing but enables the prelims judges to review your performance. Please do not list the URL publicly.  If this entry method is an obstacle to your entry, please notify the championships director.

The entry must be one unedited single-camera shot. Zooming in and out is permitted. Video should resemble the stage act as closely as possible in all aspects, including costume and music.  All IJA Stage Championships competitors are responsible for complying with the IJA Stage Championships Rules and the IJA Music Policy and FAQ.

The Championships Director may accept all applicants into competition or may ask five preliminary judges to narrow the selection for any or all of the competition categories (Juniors, Teams, and Individuals). Each judge will be given time to evaluate all the acts independently.  The preliminaries judges will then return scores to the director, keeping a record of their own scores and keeping their scores and opinions confidential. The Championships Director will compile scores and choose competitors based on the top combined scores. The director will then forward the results to each of the preliminaries judges, showing all scores and computations. Once all judges have confirmed the accuracy of their scores, all entrants will be notified of whether they qualified for the final competition or not. Prelims scores, rankings, and judging notes if any will be withheld until the IJA Stage Competitions, after which they will be available, on request, to anyone who submitted a prelims video whether or not that video qualified for competition.

The maximum number of competitors will be determined based on the time and resources of the festival. The Championships Director, in conjunction with the Festival Director, will determine this number. The scoring system for finals (described below) is also used for the preliminaries; the only difference is that whereas seven judges are used in the finals, five are used for preliminaries. (High and low score per category are eliminated in both cases, so here the middle three are averaged instead of the middle five. Performance position in the competition finals may be partially based on the entrants’ preliminaries performance score.

Finalist registration videos, submitted during preliminary competition, must remain available to view by judges through the completion of the stage competition finals. Should the need arise, this enables judges to review and verify that no significant performance change or team substitution has been made between the preliminary and finals competition.

In the IJA’s ongoing efforts to document and preserve the history of juggling, especially the activities of the IJA, videos submitted for the preliminary competitions will be downloaded and preserved in the IJA Archives. If the preliminary competition video is not in a downloadable format, the entrant agrees to provide the IJA with a physical or downloadable copy of the prelim entry. Preliminary entries will be maintained in the Archives, but will not be made available for public viewing without prior permission of the entrant.

Rules for Competitors
This entire web page, and not merely this section, delineates the rules of competition. Unless stated otherwise, the term “competitor” as used herein applies to juniors, individuals, teams, and the individuals within the team.

Every finals act is required to be similar in spirit to its preliminaries video. A competitor who intentionally changes his or her act in a significant way from the preliminaries may be disqualified at the discretion of the Championships Director.

The goal of the IJA Stage Competitions is to reward a stage-performed juggling act that is entertaining and marketable to a broad audience. As juggling is an ever-changing and broadening field of skilled prop manipulation, there is no limit on the choice of props; however, the majority of the act must involve the manipulation of objects in a manner that would best be described as juggling, as opposed to by a well-known other specific name. In other words, we encourage competitors to expand our preconceptions of juggling, but the IJA stage competition is a venue for acts that primarily present juggling; not for acts that primarily present prop manipulation in forms that already have their own competitions elsewhere. Non-juggling skills will be judged only in so far as they directly enhance the overall entertainment value of the routine or the extent to which, when combined with juggling, they increase the difficulty or risk of the juggling. Acts that are not primarily perceived as juggling may be disqualified from competition by a majority vote of the preliminary judges or at the director’s discretion.

Competitors are to have a prepared, polished juggling routine, running within the time limits of the competition, with few drops. Competitors are expected to behave in a professional manner, and to inform the Championships Director beforehand of any unusual needs or problems with a routine. Professional practices include knowing the rules; abiding by the schedule; being on time for all registrations, preliminaries, rehearsals, performances and awards ceremonies; respecting the rights of others; and conducting oneself in a gracious manner.

No object may be intentionally juggled in an unsafe manner or thrown or kicked off the front of the stage. Fire is not permitted. Acts must not damage the performance area in any way. The Championships Director reserves the right to veto any prop or portion of a routine that may jeopardize the professionalism of the championships or the safety or property of the audience, the championships personnel, or the theater.

The minimum time for all competition routines is five minutes. Juniors performances have a maximum time limit of seven minutes. Individuals and Teams performances have a maximum time limit of eight minutes.

In the event that any rule listed here is violated, either by a competitor or by anyone else associated with the competitions, the appropriate action to be taken will be decided exclusively by the Championships Director. The Championships Director will also decide the outcome of any dispute that may arise concerning either interpretation of these rules or circumstances not covered by these rules. Decisions of the Championships Director in these matters are final.

IJA Music Policy

Competitors who plan to use music in the IJA Stage Championships (Individuals, Teams or Juniors) should read the IJA Music Policy and FAQ to ensure compliance with copyright law. Compliance with the IJA Music Policy and FAQ is the responsibility of the competitor.

Competitors who advance to the finals must attend a rehearsal to review procedures and inspect the performance space. Competitors must make their technical requirements, such as sound and light cues, known to the Championships Director, who will be responsible for communication with the technical staff and volunteers. The competitor is solely responsible for any errors resulting from a lack of communication with the Championships Director or staff, including errors that interfere with the competitor’s performance and/or adversely affect the judging of that competitor’s routine. The Championships Director will allow each act an equal amount of time for rehearsal. It is the responsibility of the competitors who qualify for the final competition to know when and where the rehearsals will take place. Competitors who miss their rehearsal time may be disqualified from the championships.

Backstage Access
Due to insurance requirements and to ensure professionalism, no one is allowed backstage during technical set up, tech rehearsal, dress rehearsal, final performance, or post-performance except competitors, Championships staff, production staff, site technicians, and other authorized personnel.

The IJA will provide stagehands to assist the competitors in setting and removing props. Each competitor in Juniors and Individuals and each team may authorize up to two additional people, such as coaches, parents, translators, or prop assistants, for backstage access. Security passes may be required for everyone permitted backstage.

Competitors may ask the Championships Director to authorize additional backstage passes if necessary.

Technical Restrictions
To reduce delays in the competitions and minimize the time between performances, acts will be given a maximum of two minutes for set up, starting from an empty stage, and two minutes to completely clear the stage after the act is complete. Any unique entrances, exits, props, intentional drops, or other special circumstances, must be discussed with the Championships Director before the competitions begin. If the routine requires any special effects, such as strobe, fog, explosives, fluorescents, black lights, etc., it is the responsibility of the competitor to provide them. All special effects must be cleared with the Championships Director and the facility manager.

The IJA will endeavor to provide a high quality stage for the competitions, but no explicit guarantees are made concerning characteristics of the performance area. For example, competitors are advised to provide their own bounce slabs and to be prepared to cope with possibly adverse lighting conditions or uneven ceiling heights.

A competitor or team may be disqualified by the Championships Director for failing to abide by these rules or behaving in a manner that jeopardizes the safety of the audience or staff, compromises the professional standards of the championships, or performs material that is judged to be dangerous, obscene, profane, overtly political, or offensive to a typical family audience. If the act were a movie, it should be rated G, PG, or PG-13. Harassment of other competitors or any other behavior that is rude, inappropriate, or materially affects the operation of the competitions in an adverse way will be considered grounds for disqualification. The IJA Board of Directors will review all incidents of this nature, and may recommend further disciplinary action.

Judging Guidelines
A judge’s primary role is to provide a fair and objective appraisal of the performance. Judges are to score based on what is seen at the time of judging, not on what they think the competitor is capable of or on what the judges have otherwise observed the competitor doing. Scores should be completely independent. Judges should not talk to each other during the competition. A judge should never criticize other judges or their scores.

Judges are to look for both good and bad qualities. It is important for judges to evaluate the whole routine and not overemphasize one point so that it becomes the prime issue. Judges should be honest with themselves and not worry about what others may think or decide. Judges should train themselves to be consistent. All competitors should receive the same appreciation and consideration. Marking a score differently than what one really feels (too high or too low) could unfairly affect the final outcome for another competitor. Judges may also prepare comments to give the competitors feedback on their routines. These comments are not part of the official scoring system.

Judges are responsible for reading and understanding all rules before the competition.

Judges should make themselves available to competitors after the competition for further explanation and suggestions for improvement. All scores are anonymous. Preliminaries judges must keep their opinions and scores confidential until after the competition is complete. After the finals, prelims and finals judges are welcome to discuss their opinions with competitors but are asked not to disclose which scores they gave.

All concerns and questions should be addressed to the Championships Director or to an individual designated by the Championships Director.

The scoring system is the same for all stage competitions. The Teams competition has the following additional rules:

(a) Team acts should involve significant juggling and performance interactions among the team members. Significant interactions include any kind of passing or exchanging of props among members, as well as synchronous or coordinated juggling among members.

(b) All team members should make a significant contribution to the act.
The Presentation category includes criteria for judging how well teams follow these guidelines.

Each competition is judged separately from one another; however, the Championships Director has the discretion to set the show order so as to intermix or separate the Individuals and Teams competitions.

Judges are expected to compare competitors to an absolute scale, not against the other competitors. Judges should not rank routines. Instead, they should score each routine against an absolute standard in the seven categories below, determined by the judge’s previous experience and knowledge of the field.

Judges assign each of the seven categories a score on a scale of 0 to 10, in whole numbers, to denote the following:

0 = No Achievement or Attempt
1 = Dismal
2 = Very Poor
3 = Poor
4 = Adequate
5 = Average
6 = Good
7 = Very Good
8 = Excellent
9 = Outstanding
10 = Perfect

The scores in each category are then multiplied to weight their importance in determining the final scores. The categories and weights are as follows. Descriptions are below.

Category      Multiplication
    Total Possible
Entertainment Value 2.0 20
Execution 2.0 20
Juggling Difficulty 2.0 20
Juggling Creativity 1.5 15
Presentation 1.5 15
Representation of Juggling 1.0 10
 Total   100


Entertainment Value: overall appeal of the act. Judges are free to apply their own personal preferences in this category; at their discretion, they may also take into consideration the audience’s response. They are not expected to evaluate the act’s appeal for a hypothetical audience that is not actually present.

Execution: how well the performance accomplished what the routine set out to do. High marks are awarded for completion of tricks without hesitation or awkwardness (but note that competitors are not penalized for deliberate pauses or drops). Drops lower the score, of course. Form and technique should be considered as well.

Juggling Difficulty: difficulty of juggling tricks performed successfully, as well as the inherent difficulty of the prop used. This score should represent the average difficulty of the entire routine, not just the difficulty of its hardest trick. Degree of difficulty is determined by the type and number of objects juggled; the speed of the juggling; the types of throws, catches, balances, or other object manipulations; the complexity of combinations of juggling tricks; and the transitions between juggling tricks. Non-juggling skills are not relevant in this category except for their impact on the difficulty of any juggling performed at the same time.

Juggling Creativity: innovation in tricks, props, and approaches to juggling. This category specifically rewards creativity in juggling; creativity in the non-juggling aspects of the routine do not contribute here, but may be recognized in the Entertainment Value or Presentation scores.

Presentation: extent to which all aspects of the performance are integrated into a coherent routine. This is different from the “Execution” category in that it includes (but is not limited to) costume, music, choreography, use of props, character, story, comedy, and non-juggling props and circus skills, in addition to the juggling itself. Note that the only element of a routine that is required is juggling; other elements may either enhance or detract from the performance and should be scored accordingly.

Additionally, in the Teams competition, the Presentation score should reflect the degree to which the routine integrates all team members and follows the guidelines for team competition, above.

Representation of Juggling: Judges use this special category to determine whether each act is a good representation of juggling, even if it incorporates other skills. This category is intended to ask: “is this basically a juggling routine, as opposed to some other kind of routine?” It is not asking: “is every moment of this routine juggling?”

Each judge is required to score independently. Judges record their scores and write comments for each act immediately after the completion of the act. All scores are to be turned over to the scorekeeper before the next act begins and may not be changed after submission.

The Drop Counters count the drop events in each routine. A drop event occurs when a competitor loses control of one or more props that fall to the floor. Regardless of how many props hit the floor, the loss of control is counted as a single drop event. The Drop Counters give their drop counts to the judges for consideration before the judges submit their scores. It is up to the judges to determine how much the drops affect the scores; the counts simply serve as a reminder.

The Timer measures and records the completion time of each act. The act is considered to begin when anything changes; if movement is made, lights or video change, or recorded music or sound is heard. The act is considered to have ended whenever the performer strikes a pose, takes a bow, or leaves the stage, and does no further performing afterward. If the competitor goes over/under time, the following points will automatically be deducted from the final score. This is a systematic deduction and is not within the responsibilities or control of the judges.

For every second over the maximum time or under the minimum time, the score deduction will be calculated by squaring the number of seconds over or under, dividing the result by 100, and then rounding to the nearest tenth of a point. At 61 seconds over or under, the competitor is disqualified.

  Seconds      Penalty     Seconds     Penalty     Seconds     Penalty  
1  0.0 21 4.4 41 16.8
2 0.0 22 4.8 42 17.6
3 0.1 23 5.3 43 18.5
4 0.2 24 5.8 44 19.4
5 0.3 25 6.3 45 20.3
6 0.4 26 6.8 46 21.2
7 0.5 27 7.3 47 22.1
8 0.6 28 7.8 48 23.0
9 0.8 29 8.4 49 24.0
10 1.0 30 9.0 50 25.0
11 1.2 31 9.6 51 26.0
12 1.4 32 10.2 52 27.0
13 1.7 33 10.9 53 28.1
14 2.0 34 11.6 54 29.2
15 2.3 35 12.3 55 30.3
16 2.6 36 13.0 56 31.4
17 2.9 37 13.7 57 32.5
18 3.2 38 14.4 58 33.6
19 3.6 39 15.2 59 34.8
20 4.0 40 16.0 60 36.0


The scorekeeper is responsible for overseeing the score data entry and calculations. The lowest and highest scores within each category are discarded, and the remaining five scores (remaining three in prelims) are averaged together, then multiplied by the corresponding weights, and added together to produce the final score. The competitor with the highest score wins first place, the competitor with the second highest score wins second place, and the competitor with the third highest score wins third place.

In the event of a tie, the final categorical scores for the competitors with equal scores will be recalculated with all the judges’ scores in each category, including the highest and lowest scores that were previously omitted. This recalculation will determine who wins the tie. If the scores are still tied after the recalculation, a tie will be declared and multiple medals will be awarded for the same place. In the event of a two-way tie for first place, no second place will be awarded. In the event of a three- (or more) way tie for first place, no second or third places will be awarded. In the event of a two- (or more) way tie for second place, no third place will be awarded.

One of the five preliminaries judges is needed to be present at the competition to confirm that the final act differed in no major way from the preliminary act. If the preliminaries judge feels the competitor has intentionally changed his act between the preliminaries and the finals, the Championships Director will be notified. It is the decision of the Championships Director as to whether or not the competitor will be disqualified. The Championships Director will not have the opportunity to make the decision unless the preliminaries judge raises the issue.

Following the competition, the judges will be required to confirm all of their scores are correct. This time is to be used to confirm scores. This time is not to be used to discuss, debate, or change scores. Winners will not be announced until the judges confirm their scores.

All scores with complete breakdowns may be posted at the festival and on the IJA website. All competitors will receive a copy of the scorecards and comments for their preliminaries and finals on request.

Competition Logistics

The Championships Director will choose all staff for the competition. The staff needed is as follows:

  • 5 preliminaries judges
  • 7 finals judges
  • 1 timer (a second timer may be used as a back-up only)
  • 1-2 drop counters (in the event that two drop counters reach different counts, both counts are made available to the judges.)
  • 1 scorekeeper
  • Stagehands – number to be determined by the Championships Director.

The Championships Director may appoint additional staff if needed.

Judge Selection
A Stage Championships preliminaries judge cannot serve as a finals judge for that same year’s Stage Championships. The Championship Director will select judges from a variety of backgrounds. Judges are not required to know all the intricacies of juggling, but they need to understand the value of and have an appreciation for the entertainment of juggling. Judges may include, but are not limited to:

  • hobby jugglers
  • professional jugglers
  • former juggling competitors
  • entertainment establishment owners
  • circus owners
  • circus / variety arts entertainers
  • juggling prop makers
  • patrons of the arts
  • university theater professors
  • booking agents
  • talent scouts
  • theater producers / directors
  • other theater or variety arts professionals, e.g., musicians, choreographers, costumers, etc.

The Championships Director should attempt to diversify as much as possible the panel of finals judges. Judges should not have a close personal relationship with any competitor that would prevent them from assessing all routines fairly. If a judge or competitor feels that a particular judge might have a conflict of interest, then it is that individual’s responsibility to bring the matter to the attention of the Championships Director.

The Championships Director does not participate in the judging of any competitor’s preliminary or final performance and should not influence the judges’ scoring.

Past Results
Click here to view results of previous IJA competitions, including the Stage Championships.

Questions or comments regarding the IJA Stage Championships should be addressed to championships@juggle.org

All concerns and questions of consequence regarding a specific preliminary or finals event should be addressed to the Championships Director or to an individual designated by the Championships Director, and not to an individual judge or other IJA staff person. Decisions of the Championships Director in all matters regarding the Stage Championships are final.

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