Domenyk La Terra: pushing my juggling ability is a hobby

Man juggling five balls
Domenyk La Terra – street show PYRAMID in Krotoszyn. Photo by Joanna Dryjańska-Pluta

An interview with Domenyk La Terra on creating juggling tricks for himself and the public, circus education and his favourite videos. Dom also shares a juggling tutorial for beginners.

I really enjoy both the technical and creative aspects of juggling. I see juggling as both a sport and an art form and I try to train both aspects equally. I like training high numbers and pushing my ability that is more for myself as a hobby and to share with the juggling community. Performing feels quite separate to that although I do still put some technical tricks onstage.

Domenyk La Terra

What was your path to becoming a performer?

I enjoyed performing from a young age, starting out learning magic which I performed to friends and family. It wasn’t until I was 15 years old and went to Switzerland on a school exchange program that I learnt to juggle. I quickly got really into it and it wasn’t long before I was training hours every day. This led me to performing juggling and I started street performing in Melbourne after seeing Richard Filby perform actually. Richard helped me make my first show which I then took to London and Edinburgh after I finished high school.

Domenyk La Terra stands behind the juggling balls formed in a shape of pyramid
Domenyk La Terra, photo by Małgosia

Juggling as a sport and an art form

You have just graduated from a circus school in Stockholm. What did it give you as a person and a performer? Would you recommend other performers choose artistic education?

For street performing, I don’t think it’s needed but I found it super helpful in improving my skills and stage presence.

I really enjoyed the school. Before going to the school I was mostly training technical juggling tricks. I was already performing but I was very into juggling as a sport and training difficult technical tricks. This was a good foundation for me to have and then during my studies I went in a different direction into more contemporary circus.

Domenyk La Terra

What education in a circus school looks like?

On a typical day in circus school, we would have juggling class in the mornings for 3 hours then after lunch a workshop with a guest teacher. These workshops changed every 2 weeks and included topics like dance, acting, clowning, acrobatics etc. We had 3 main juggling teachers and in class, we discussed conceptual ideas about juggling as an art form and were given tasks to create new juggling tricks and patterns.

Juggler Domenyk La Terra performing in the street
Street performance. Photo by Joanna Dryjańska-Pluta

In our interview, Ian Deadly pointed out that circus school graduates are not always good buskers. You have recently performed your show “Pyramid” on the streets. As it was created as a school project what changes have you made or you are planning to make between street and stage versions?

Yes, in circus school we didn’t learn about street performing. all our performances were done indoors without needing to build a crowd and the performances were focused more on the skills and discipline performed. 

This summer was the first time performing this new show outdoors and having to build a crowd with the show. The biggest change I will make is talking more to the audience in the beginning and end to build the crowd and connect with the audience. I also plan to give myself a little more freedom in the choreography, to allow for the inevitable distractions and moments of improvisation that occur often in street theatre. 

PYRAMID – trailer

What does a typical day look like? Do you spend a lot of time training?

It’s hard to say what a normal day is for me at the moment as it changes from week to week as I travel and perform at one-off events and festivals. During school, I was training juggling about 5-6 hours a day but it has been harder to find the time and regular training spaces since I graduated.

What are your priorities in creating new routines? How do you balance creativity and technical aspects and how important for you is beating your own or world juggling records?  

I really enjoy both the technical and creative aspects of juggling. I see juggling as both a sport and an art form and I try to train both aspects equally. I like training high numbers and pushing my ability that is more for myself as a hobby and to share with the juggling community. Performing feels quite separate to that although I do still put some technical tricks onstage.

A crowd watching a street circus show.
Domenyk La Terra performing PYRAMID in Krotoszyn, Photo by Małgosia Węglarz

What does the audience appreciate versus what you enjoy the most?

At least on the street, most audiences like to see big flashy tricks, technical tricks like numbers juggling or 360s. I enjoy performing these tricks as well as performing my own creative juggling sequences. 

On your Instagram, you post videos of your insane trick compilations. What’s the one that you are the proudest of?

I am most proud of this video, showing a lot of my early tricks I created with pyramids:

How does social media help you promote yourself as a performer?

I post quite often on Instagram and some of my jobs have come directly through people finding me online. So, I think it’s very important to have an online presence as a performer. Especially if you are working with one-off gigs or short contracts.

A painting of four wooden pedestals with juggling balls stacked a pyramid shape
PYRAMID at BuskerBus 2022 in Krotoszyn. Photo by Joanna Dryjańska-Pluta

In your show “Pyramid”, you prove that it is possible to tell a story with juggling. How important is narrative in your shows?

It’s a very abstract narrative, exploring the different ways of breaking apart and building back up the pyramid shape and showing the development I went through in my exploration into this Pyramid juggling technique. I think it is important to have some kind of continuity, especially in this show because it is a silent juggling show it is already a challenge to keep the focus.

Performer Domenyk La Terra juggles in front of the town hall in Krotoszyn
Domenyk performing in Krotoszyn in Aug 2022. Photo by Joanna Dryjańska-Pluta

What is your busking experience, and why do you perform in the street?

I really like my home pitch in Melbourne on Southbank. In the beginning, I learnt there and when I finished school I began travelling with the show during winter and coming back to Melbourne each summer. Overseas I spent most of my time in London performing in Covent Garden. I enjoyed working Covent because it is a big busy space that often feels like a big festival show 

What shows make you stop and stay in the street?  Who are your favourite buskers and the best shows you have ever seen?

On the street, I will stop and watch as many shows as I can. I learnt a lot from watching a lot of other street shows.

There are so many I like, for example, “Unstable acts” by Pete Anderson – a street performer from London. I was very impressed by his street show when I first went to London in 2018. The way he connects with his audience and sells the tricks in his show is inspiring.

They say that apart from being an exercise, juggling boosts brain development. What are the benefits you have noticed? 

Yes, I’ve read some articles about that. I think it has improved my reaction speed and coordination but it’s hard to know for sure.

I know you as a juggler, but what are your other hobbies? 

I had a lot of hobbies when I was younger, Painting, drawing, woodwork and fishing. I dropped a lot of my hobbies to focus on juggling.

I would say juggling is also my hobby at the moment because I often train strange or hard technical tricks that I don’t plan on ever performing and just do for fun.

Domenyk La Terra

What are your plans and dreams and what can I wish you for?

I have only loose plans for the future, I’m going to keep pushing my juggling training and creating new work. I love street performing but I am also keen to work with a touring show or a big company.

Good luck! I know that you are not a fan of karaoke, but you have promised me and Richard Filby to sing with us next time I invite you to Poland. Have you already memorised the lyrics of “Timeless Love” by Justin 3?

Not quite. I listen to it often so I’ll be ready to sing it by next summer.

Juggling tutorial for beginners

And here is Domenyk’s juggling tutorial for absolute beginners. If you try it, don’t forget to share the videos and tag us on Instagram!

A juggling tutorial by Dom

About Domenyk La Terra

Domenyk La Terra grew up in Australia. He began his career with a solo street and festival juggling show and toured in Australia, New Zealand and various street art festivals around Europe. In 2022, he got a bachelor’s degree in circus arts at Stockholm University of the Arts (SKH- Former DOCH). He enjoys exploring the virtuosity in juggling and how it can cause astonishment and surprise when shared with audiences

Domenyk performs a juggling act “Ballpark” and his full solo show “PYRAMID”.

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