Author Topic: Workshops of Wonder  (Read 6753 times)


  • Thanks: 0
Workshops of Wonder
« on: January 03, 2006, 09:16:32 AM »
So i'm about to host my first diabolo workshop

and I've read a little bit about other successful workshops but have'nt found any other threads that quite deal with putting on a workshop

I'm gonna be Teaching the local youth circus + punters from the public
so that means a range of skill levels but noones gonna be there that has no ability at all

So i guess what I'm Asking is

What Would u ideally like to see in a workshop?

What are Succesful things that you have seen in previous Workshops?

but your suggestions don't just have to be for my workshop lets make this thread a valuable resource for every1  :D
do it, do it ,do it, DO IT!


  • Donator
  • Thanks: 12
Workshops of Wonder
« Reply #1 on: January 03, 2006, 10:50:23 AM »
The workshops I've tried to teach to 10-11 year olds have been difficult when it comes to diabolo.  Teaching them the inital get it started step is always difficult as many don't understand "Roll the diabolo from your right to your left and pick it up".  Most of the time it's rolled in the wrong direction or just swung from right to left.  And then when it looks vaguely going, a throw is inevitable.

But if you're past this stage, things become much more interesting I think.  Basic tricks like suns, trapezes etc. allow people to get an idea of how the diabolo might move.  I'm not really sure about the rest though.  One on One help seems to be the best approach for most people, but not always possible when there are 10 people wanting help.

Something I've found helpful in teaching people (especially hand and arm movements).  Keep some wooden handsticks around (the really long 450mm ones) which if you're not feeling too shy, get the person to hold the sticks further up and you stand behind them and hold the ends.  Then just let them relax and feel how you move your arms to do various things.  When people realise the movements, the muscle memory should hopefully allow them to keep it going and eventually remember it.

Sorry can't help more, but good idea

Chiok - Gravity pulls down, we throw up.
University of Bath Juggling and Circus Skills


  • Thanks: 0
Workshops of Wonder
« Reply #2 on: January 03, 2006, 11:10:07 AM »
yes that really works to stand behind them and hold the sticks too. so that they can feel the feeling of getting it to spin faster, cause they always move the right stick just as hard as the left one if you know what i mean...and you're right about the throwing's inevitable :P but it will just do some sort of kickflip :P


  • Thanks: 10
Workshops of Wonder
« Reply #3 on: January 03, 2006, 11:47:18 AM »
well, i'm lucky enough to be employed part-time as a youth worker, teaching circus skills to teenagers. i do 2 sessions a week, 1 in a youth centre and 1 at a school.

regarding diabolo, i have some simple tips.

1. always have plenty of equipment! diabolos get *very* popular in these situations, i took 12 to my school and they were snapped up in seconds and spent the rest of the session having to shuffle people around so everyone gets a go.

2. most people will get it spinning pretty quickly. my method is to ascertain their strongest hand, show them how to do a floor start ("make sure you're facing the diabolo, put it to your right hand side (for rightys), roll, lift, right hand up and down and left one relaxed.") and help them out if needed, but after a few mins they'll get the hang of it.

3. and then they will start launching it. make sure you don't run a session in a drama studio, with expensive stage lights like i did. trust me.

4. i find the simplest trick, after a throw and catch, is the trapeze. it seems to be a good building block. and after that, i go for trapeze on both sides, or a double on one side. or catching the diabolo with your arms crossed (going into cats cradle for more advanced students). chances are, byt that point you'll have a few dedicated people who want to learn more, and a lot of people happy with getting it spinning and throwing, who move onto something else.

5. lastly, and hugely important - at the end of the session, make sure that people return the equipment in 2 piles - sticks with the string wrapped around them securely, and diabolos. if you don't ask this, people leave the string around the diabolos, throw them in a box, and then everyone else follows suit. when you empty the box, you find that 17 diabolos are tangled up. this is horrendous, and after 3 hours you will have to cut through the mess with scissors. it does happen.

6. lots of spare string in case of above scenario.

for everything else, plate spinning is very popular (make sure you get plastic sticks rather than wooden, and plenty of spares. you won't believe how many get broken from impromptu jousting), followed by juggling, and probably devil stick lastly in my experience. your mileage my vary.

it is a great thing to run though, watching the delight of teenagers or children getting it spinning for the first time, or doing their first trick. i tend to get a few people who have behavioural troubles, and aren't interested in school or any sports, but have tried circus skills and really connected with it. that's pretty rewarding. anyway, good luck with it and let us know how it goes.



  • Thanks: 0
Workshops of Wonder
« Reply #4 on: January 03, 2006, 08:58:48 PM »
I teach elementary school outside of Seattle, and Diabolo has taken off with my kids, (as well as unicycle).  I have broken the skills down by level and have tried to include some different ways of speeding it up in each level.  as well as a mix of string tricks and throw and toss tricks.  There is no "scientific" formula that I have found as to what skills to teach first, but this works for me.  I have also found that labeling skills by levels gives kids natural goals to work on and gives them a huge sense of accomplishment when they reach it.

Here they are:

 Level 1: Throw and catch
Single Trapeze

Level 2: Open orbits
Power pull
Forced Sun

Level 3: Double Trapeze
Clockwise Sun
Counter Clockwise Sun
Sun pulls
Jump the fence

Level 4: Grind on right stick
Grind on left stick
Over the shoulder catch

Level 5:Chinese snaps
Hook and loop
Around the Leg

Level 6: Spaghetti
Chinese Stick Release
Right or Left side recapture

Level 7:Coffee Grinder
Dot the “I”
Around the arm
Stick release

Level 8:Jump Rope
Double Stick release
Whip Catch
Chinese Magic Knot
Bow and Arrow

Most of these tricks are found on  I have changed suicide to "stick release" for a school setting.

I hope this helps.
Andrew Hershey


  • Thanks: 0
Workshops of Wonder
« Reply #5 on: January 07, 2006, 06:53:09 AM »
Thanks for all your feedback guys

Its nice to hear from other people teaching diabolo around the world

I'm thinking I'd really like to give these guys the tools to make up thier own tricks and show them places where innovation is possible

I think that the trapeze is proabably the first place to start

then mabye suns

then mabye arm orbits

it just seems like thiers so much information that i want to give them
but i don't wanna just stand there and show them tricks they can't do and then have them forget them 2 days later

also i've been asked to give instruction on getting two going
any advice about this?
do it, do it ,do it, DO IT!


  • VotW Contributor
  • Thanks: 15
Workshops of Wonder
« Reply #6 on: January 07, 2006, 09:42:43 AM »
I was the first in my school to shuffle 2 diabolos and quite a few people got it quite soon after me. the start I used was the popular wrap start which is good because it means the diabolos are more stable before you start them shuffling.

1. Make sure the string they use isn't slippery, if it is rub dry soap on it.

2. Get the other diabolo spinning quickly on the string first so it is stable.

3. Wrap the other diabolo and tell them to flick their wrist to get it started.

4. Pull the string quickly and repeatedly in a tapping motion.

5. As you unrap the diabolo that is wrapped give it some force downwards.

6. In the shuffle every time a diabolo comes round push it down with more force than it seems to need.

Tell them if they put enough practice in it will work because practice is the key to anything.              

However, show them other starts such as the throw start or the rocket start.

Good luck with the workshop.
Behind your back is your front.


  • Thanks: 0
Workshops of Wonder
« Reply #7 on: January 07, 2006, 09:58:50 AM »
For learning two, I wouldn't get started them with wrap starts...

I would throw the seccond diabolo in myself or order the others to do teamwork and their partners throw it in...This worked goood for me and later I showed them the wrap start, which went good after they could do the normal shuffle


  • Thanks: 10
Workshops of Wonder
« Reply #8 on: January 07, 2006, 10:34:19 AM »
yes, by far the best way of actually having the "feel" of 2 is to get 1 going yourself, and then get a friend to pop a diabolo over to your string. even though the shuffle only briefly commences and then falls apart shortly after, it's the feeling of having 2 going round that feels like such a huge step up, and really inspires you to learn it for yourself. that was how i first got 2 going, thanks dave p!

again, once they're used to the feeling of the shuffle going around, try and push down every revolution to stop it from collapsing. i found this the hardest part by far, and it's really difficult to give advice on as it's something that just needs to be played about with until it works. doing around the leg orbits is a good way to learn the initial drive of the dominant hand, i think.

i'd probably recommend wrap starts or throw ins next, depending on the equipment. those wanting to learn 2 in my juggling club right now will find it pretty tricky, as we only have small cheap plastic diabolos and rubbish string.  but i'm just in the process of getting some more equipment, does anyone have any advice on "jumbo" diabolos that are cheap but would be suitable for workshops? bearing in mind they're going to get dropped a lot..!


  • Thanks: 1
Suggestions on Teaching a Diabolo Workshop
« Reply #9 on: July 20, 2006, 03:46:35 PM »
I just got a job, teaching a diabolo workshop and now I am really excited about this!! :D  I will just be teaching the basics and the workshop will be free to any one who comes but I have never taught or been to a workshop before so does any one have any suggestions on teaching a diabolo workshop? If so can you tell me?


  • Thanks: 3
Workshops of Wonder
« Reply #10 on: July 20, 2006, 04:36:38 PM »
Is your workshop of people who have never touched a diabolo before?  In that case you will want to start with the rolling start, pulling / tugging on the string to keep it spinning, correcting the tilt, and eventually work up to tossing / catching.

More information about your workshops would help (length, skill level, age of students, etc)
Keeping the world safe from boring people,

Tim Ellis

Check out my YouTube tutorials!


  • Thanks: 1
Workshops of Wonder
« Reply #11 on: July 20, 2006, 05:19:31 PM »
it is going to be about a hour long I think most of the people will be new at it and have never touched a diabolo before. I think the age will very. This is for a juggling/magic store and they want to sell more diabolos.

I was thinking I will print a short instruction sheet that the people that come to the workshop can take home with them.


  • Donator
  • Thanks: 3
Workshops of Wonder
« Reply #12 on: July 20, 2006, 07:03:42 PM »
one thing i would definitely say is to STOP and help out people.

Last year i went to Matt Hall's workshop in Berkeley. he did an excalibur workshop, then a general workshop after. the excalibur workshop went over REALLY well--i had never done excalibur before and after this short workshop i was already doing some tricks! basically, he explained everything, and then let people try it out, and went around offering his help.

the other workshop went over decently. he talked the entire time, kind of like giving a lecture. he went over everything--he gave a huuuge chunk of information. half the people were rapt with attention (like me), but half the people (i suspect the newbs who got lost after the 1D section) were bored. a lot of people just left! you can't please all of the people all of the maybe it was a success. i was fascinated, and people were coming up afterwards asking for help.

what i gathered from that is that people need to be engaged at certain points. you talk, and then see what people need. then you can move on. obviously, if no one in your class knows how to do 2D, you're not going to be working on fan variations.

so, figure out where everyone is at, and then work from there. give examples, and have people try it themselves. encourage group participation.


  • Donator
  • Thanks: 12
Workshops of Wonder
« Reply #13 on: July 20, 2006, 10:10:53 PM »
A topic with a few more helpful hints: HERE

Generally think about who you are aiming at i.e beginners so work straight from the beginning with rolling starts, control, maybe a sun, and a throw.  If the class isn't too large, try and get one on one time with everyone.  If it is a bit large, do it in 5-10min slots getting people to go away to practise and then come back.

A short performance or demo before or after works nicely too.  Gets them all excited about learning, or its a nice reward to see what they've learnt can be applied.

Chiok - Gravity pulls down, we throw up.
University of Bath Juggling and Circus Skills


  • Donator
  • Thanks: 10
Re: Workshops of Wonder
« Reply #14 on: May 14, 2008, 08:16:08 AM »
Hey, I have a question.
To do workshops you need diabolo's. How many do you take to a workshop? And how do you get them? Because if I buy 10 finesses that would cost me around 150 Euro. Or do you have it sponsored by a local store? Because the store could sell more diabolo's

And how much money do you ask for a workshop if you are giving one on a school?


  • Moderator
  • Thanks: 49
Re: Workshops of Wonder
« Reply #15 on: May 14, 2008, 03:32:14 PM »
Schools have classes and it helps them if you can keep to those sizes. the problem with that is that you need at least 1d and sticks for each person and yourself or you have to use more than one prop and rotate smaller groups.

Ask your local shop or more likely the importer/distributer/manufacturer for props in your country and see if you can get a deal on workshop quantities of kits. There's no way you should be paying full RRP if they can't help you keep looking.
If you are self employed and submitting taxes equipment can often be claimed against tax. Talk to a small business adviser to see how this works.

Decide whether you need full size diabs or not. If you think you will be mainly be working with teenagers and adults this might be the way to go. Smaller children might find them unwieldy. I used to use g2's and allys for everyone but now have 6 of those little Belgian diabolos for standard use and 6 old finesse and circus I no longer use as back ups. If I need more I can lay my hands on them.  I'm using wooden sticks and stock string but will replace that with decent string when needed.
I quite like the Belgian diabolos, I can pretty much do all the stuff I can do with my own diabolos which is important, they are a bit pricey for workshop kits though. I reckon that Tornadoes are going to be the way to go if the price is right as they are a good halfway between small and regular diabs.

In the UK the average primary school class size is around 30, I'm not sure what size they are in Holland. For the last person I worked for we had a policy of maximum 15 in a group for one workshop leader. This worked well but we lost work because schools would often prefer 30. 30 kids throwing things in an average junior school hall is a nightmare and to be honest they wont get much out of it (good line to use to justify small groups).

My method is to bring 5/6 sets of diabolos, balls, plates, flower sticks, poi, stage balls, scarves - in theory this means i have enough equipment for 42 (but I'm not about to let that happen) or enough variety to run say 3 sessions with the same group using a variety of props with the chance of another 3 sessions expanding their skills.
A few weeks ago I was booked to do a days workshop with 4 groups of 25 13 yr olds. when I got there that turned into 3 groups of 60 16 yr olds. You want to watch out for that. Luckily I had a friend along with a background in drama and dance and some circus skill ability. She did the warm up, I did the deo, she took the diabolo and poi outside and left me with a manageble group. We billed them for 2 sessions. I know some that would have walked and put an invoice in anyway.

I'm an ex secondary school teacher, I'm a fair size and have a good voice and a shaved head, I dont tend to get much trouble from kids that I teach. I put this down to my teaching knowledge rather than appearance as I know how to handle a class. I have methods I employ to set the tone and to make the group responsive to me. Games and warmups for example are useful as they can control, focus, calm, give confidence, break down the 'I'm a cool teenager I wont look a fool in front of my peers', etc. I suggest you get a handfull of these and be able to know when to use them.

Price? area dependant, find out what others in your area are asking. I'd say it's politic to not go about undercutting others if you can help it, they have a living to make as well and in the end nobody does well. In the UK there are rates for artists/dance/music/drama specialists in schools which are around £25-£35/hr. Schools seem to accept that so there is no reason why they shouldn't be able to pay you that (not withstanding you have a very specialist skill and the equipment costs are appreciable so in theory aim for the higher end). Quite often use that as a guideline then offer an hourly price. a reduced rate for a half day and reduced again for a days work or potentially come down on prices for repeated sessions.

Don't forget insurance, risk assessments, CRB (criminal records check needed for working with kids in UK, simmilar elsewhere) and it defineitely doesn't hurt to have first aid and child protection training (what to do if a kid tells you something / how to avoid finding yourself the wrong side of a vivid imagination)

spinnin pig

  • Thanks: 0
Re: Workshops of Wonder
« Reply #16 on: May 14, 2008, 05:38:52 PM »
Quote from: seán_
child protection training (what to do if a kid tells you something / how to avoid finding yourself the wrong side of a vivid imagination)
that is so true, some idiot in my class went and told her mum that when we were away in kielder the teacher had "touched her" and if he hadnt had a female assistant teacher with him he probably would have been put under investigation, theres my advice, have a reliable assistant to back you up if something does happen (e.g. (not meaning to stereotype) a man in a hooded top who stays in the corner for the session isnt going to be seen as a fully trustworthy person)
piggy out
[edit] cool double brackets  ;D [/edit]
tricks im happy with
2d stuff
sticktrap double release
sprinkler/sprinkler suicide


  • Donator
  • Thanks: 10
Re: Workshops of Wonder
« Reply #17 on: May 20, 2008, 09:33:09 AM »
Thanks sean! I'll reply to it later at school now.


SimplePortal 2.3.7 © 2008-2023, SimplePortal