Rola-Bola – Beginners Moves, Tips and Tricks
Once you have mastered the standard balance on the Rola-Bola, play about with your posture (so that you can get used to recovering your balance from all sorts of positions!) This will also help you to quickly master many more tricks such as…
First Set of Tricks To Learn
Surfing: This is where you balance on the rola bola so it looks like you are surfing (eg feet both pointed in the same direction, along the board, and in a slight crouch position). Best advice is to work through the standard balance tricks once again, but with your feet in the surfing position!
Pause: This is where you are rolling from side to side, and then suddenly stop with the cylinder at one end of the rola-bola. Obviously this is all to do with weight distribution! Slowly roll yourself towards one end of the board. Once the cylinder is near the end of the board, put all your weight on the foot that is over that side. Use the other foot simply to keep the board balanced, so that you do not roll back and forward. This is a useful pause trick for you to accept some applause from your audience!
Crouch / Squat: Slowly lower yourself into a crouching position, and then raise yourself back up to a standing position. While lowering yourself, it can be easy to completely lose your balance because your centre of gravity is also shifting, so take your time and be careful!
Standing on one Foot: Your foot must be on top of the cylinder. Best advice would be to try balancing on the cylinder without the board on top first of all.
Walk on Cylinder: Stand on the cylinder and try to move forward (similar to using a Walking Globe). Perhaps this could be your opening trick where the cylinder is at one side of the room, and the board is in the middle of the stage?
What Props Could I use while I am on the Rola Bola?
If you are already a juggler, then consider using whatever props you already use. Balls and clubs are relatively easy. Poi and Diabolo aren’t quite as straightforward! For my rola-bola routine, I use 2 Juggling Knives and a chicken! For any props you intend to use, be sure that you have practiced with them plenty of times without using the rola-bola. You won’t be able to move forwards and backwards to catch props, so your juggling must be smooth!
Obviously certain tricks are not possible on the rola-bola (under the leg for example – unless you keep both legs on the ground and do an “albert throw”!) Likewise, certain tricks which require very quick sharp movements (such as chops) may be best avoided as they could knock you off balance. Swinging poi is the equivalent of patting your head and rubbing your stomach as you try to swing props in one direction and roll yourself the other way, so it may be best avoided also!
Another Person! It is possible for 2 people to stand on the board facing each other while holding hands or hugging (to help keep each other on the board, of course!) I have seen some performers also jump onto a rola-bola just as someone jumps off it. You would need to work on the timing and make sure that you exited forward and not to the side in case the trick didn’t work as you would end up with a board flying towards you! 2 People could also face the same way (one person climbs up behind the other person).
Basketball: Rola-Bola on top of a basketball or bowling ball
Jump/Turn: Practice jumping while balanced on the rola-bola, then when this feels comfortable, try to do a 180 degree (half) turn, then finally build up to doing a 360 degree (full) turn. Keep your jump as low as possible as you do not want the board to start sliding to one side so you need to land as quickly as you can and with minimal impact!
Jump Mount: Ask someone to hold the rola-bola steady with the board horizontal and for them to let go just as you are about to land.
Hands and Feet: Hands on one side of the rola-bola and feet on the other side! Or just use one hand and one foot on either side. Do not place your fingers underneath the board just in case you come to a stop and squash them!
Leapfrog! I have seen Luke Burrage leapfrog someone and land on a rola-bola! Only to be attempted if you are very brave or very foolish!
Picking up props from the ground: An entertaining trick which builds on the squat/crouch trick from earlier is to pick up your props from the ground, one at a time! When performing, make this trick look really difficult by wobbling the board and looking as if you are about to fall off, but it should be easy if you can lower yourself!