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The Kara Box: The History of the Prop and Trick

In the past, I’ve written about the Salerno Ring, the famous invention of the gentleman juggler Salerno. While it’s an amazing invention and prop, it was the lone trick that Salerno performed that didn’t fit in with the general idea of the gentleman juggler; only using normal items found in a parlor or a gentleman’s home.

SalernoRingSalerno and his Salerno Ring

Kara, Salerno’s rival, likewise had one trick that didn’t fit into the gentleman juggler paradigm. It was similar to the Salerno Ring, as it was balanced on the head and involved tossing balls into or through the prop. This prop was known as the Kara Box.

KaraBoxesKara and his Kara Box

As you can see in the above photos, the Kara Box consisted of a rack of inclined ramps. Balls were tossed into the top and rolled down the ramps until reaching the bottom and falling back down for the juggler to catch. It is not known if Kara inspired Salerno or the other way around, but the similarities are too close to be a coincidence.

Like the Salerno Ring, the Kara Box was copied by other jugglers. Below is a photo from 1895, showing Resa using a Kara Box. This was while Kara was still at the height of his career.

Resa and his Kara Box

Kara retired in 1927. In the 1930s and early 1940s, the Kara Box was performed by Felix Adanos. Below you can see a never before published photo of Adanos using a Kara Box as well as an illustration of him performing it from one of Adanos’ posters.

Adanos_02Adanos

KaraBoxAdanos3

Adanos

After Adanos’ use of the Kara Box, the following illustration by Joe Marsh (from the November 1947 issue of the Jugglers’ Bulletin) is the next reference I’ve found to the trick.

KaraBoxJB

The October 1961 edition of the IJA Newsletter featured an unknown juggler using a spiral version of the Kara Box. As you can see below, he didn’t use it in a balance, thus making it one of the easiest juggling tricks of all time!

KaraBoxSpiral

KaraSpiralCloseup

The following illustrations of the trick appeared in The Art of Juggling by Nikolai Bauman, which was published in 1962. This book was the juggling textbook for Soviet circus schools.

KaraBoxBaumanBook1

KaraBoxBaumanBook2

The Kara Box was performed by Ukrainian juggler Alexander Brezitskiy in the 1970s and 1980s.

KaraBoxAlexanderBrezitskiyeAlexander Brezitskiy

In the 1980s, Kit Summers’ book Juggling With Finesse featured the following illustration of the trick.

KaraBoxJWF (779x1280)

The Kara Box was performed by Jeff Taveggia in the 1980s. His version of the prop was built at RBBB Clown College by juggler David Berman and Ringling master prop builder George Shellenberger and was passed down to Jeff. You can see it in the photos and video below.

KaraBoxTaveggiaJeff Taveggia’s version of the Kara Box.

Jeff Taveggia in the IJA Gym in 1987

An art exhibit that was held in conjunction with the IJA’s 50th Anniversary 1997 featured the following piece by Karen Gersch.

KaraBoxKarenGersch

The most recent juggler that I’m aware of that performed a balanced Kara Box is Barry Friedman of the Raspyni Brothers. You can see a photo of him performing it at the 2005 BJC below.

BarryFriedmanKaraBox

A few other modern jugglers have taken inspiration from the Kara Box. A front facing back pack Kara Box was made and used by Swedish juggler and juggling historian Erik Åberg.

KaraBoxErik

Below is a video of Jay Gilligan and Erik Åberg using Kara Box-style ramps in a unique way.

A video posted by Jay Gilligan (@instantjuggler) on

The video below shows the use of a Kara Box-like ramp system by Impredecibles Circo.

 A very similar set of ramps has been used by Otavio Fantinato, which you can see below.
The Kara Box is an old school trick that I’d love to see more jugglers work with. Perhaps this article will inspire some readers to make their own versions. I think that a crutch would make a great base structure for the type that Jeff Taveggia used. If you make a Kara Box, send me photos and video and I’ll add it to this article.
10 months ago by in Featured , Opinion/Theory/History. You can follow any responses to this entry through the | RSS feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
About

David Cain is a professional juggler, juggling historian, and the owner of the world's only juggling museum, the Museum of Juggling History. He is a Guinness world record holder and 15 time IJA gold medalist. In addition to his juggling pursuits, David is a successful composer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and singer as well as the author of twelve books. He and his children live in Middletown, OH (USA). His favorite color is purple and his favorite food is filet mignon.

5 Comments to The Kara Box: The History of the Prop and Trick
    • Barry Friedman
    • The first time we ever performed this was at RIT In the 90s. We had it hooked up to a drum machine and the balls triggered sounds with each hit of the walls. It’s hanging in my garage 🙂

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