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Stick Heroes - February 2013

2013.02.28. 09:54 bravojuggling

Kawika KeAlii Lee

Kawika KeAlii Lee has given contact tricks heavy attention as it is proven in his video as well.

Name: Kawika KeAlii Lee
Age: 31
Nationality: Hawaiian/American
Place you are living: Alaska

How many years have you been juggling with devilsticks?
16 years. I do want to point out that does not say anything about flight time. My progression has been a very slow process. For a long time it was just something I played with now and again. It was always something I was good at right away, but didn't take seriously until much more recently.

Number of devilsticks you have: Right now I have 4 sets.

Your juggling achievements (prize / performance / trick that you are most proud of / etc.):
I will be teaching at FireDrums 2013. This makes me very happy as I have reached the point in my juggling that I desire to take an active role in teaching and cultivating the growth of the artform.

What other juggling equipments do you play with?
I can do some basic juggling with clubs, nothing special. I also spin a fair amount of staff, mostly doubles.

Are you member of any team/group/club/association?
Not officially, tho I do guest perform with a number of troupes on occasion.

Why did you choose this juggling tool and where did you first meet with it?
When I was a teenager there was a man who traveled the local summer music festival circuit as a vendor and sold handmade sticks. I got my first pair from him and had so much fun. From then on I could be found dancing with my sticks during outdoor shows. At first that was all there was to it. I didn't practice or drill, I just danced with them.

Where did you first meet with devilsticks?
Alaskan summer music festivals. Self taught groovin to the music.

Which trick did you find the most difficult to learn?
I have been heavily incorporating Contact style into my sticks. The most difficult trick I can do right now is probably the contact move known as a Jesus Roll. My footwork is sloppy.

What are you practicing at the moments?
Contact! Lately I have been all about incorporating contact. When I was first exposed to talented contact staff spinners, I was immediately entranced by its beauty and started trying to incorporate the movements.  Later I saw Paul Rozaire's "Flowers Power" video and it was such a huge inspiration for me. Here was a guy proficiently doing everything that I was trying to play with. Things that were in my head but I hadn't drilled into smooth play, nor had I ever seen anyone do, he was doing seamlessly. It really made me get off my butt and refocus. It is a goal of mine to meet him and geek out on some sticks at some point. Guess I am going to have to make a round of European festivals!

Do you have tricks that you invented?
That's kind of a funny question. I believe that there really is no such thing. Lots of people stumble upon "new" tricks out of their own creativity. I am self taught, so most of what I do is that way.  That being said, I also know that anything I stumble upon, there are those out there who have been doing long before me. I do not try to take credit for "inventing" anything.

What are your favourite tricks?
Lately I have been doing a lot of anti-spin fountains. It feels nice to do, it presents well, takes amazing pictures, and I have drilled it to a point where it is a nice stable go-to trick if I need to restabalize.

What are the most difficult tricks you can do?
The most difficult trick I can do right now is probably the contact move known as a Jesus Roll. My footwork is sloppy.

What is the most difficult trick that you would like to learn?
Handstick flairs. I do very little of this, and it looks so good. It is a weak point that I feel would do wonders to level up my play should I give it the attention it deserves.

In what style do you play and what other styles do you like?
Currently Paul Rozaire is my biggest inspiration in sticks. His style is what has been stuck in my head since before I was ever exposed to his work.

Do you play with firesticks as well?
Yep.

What do you do on a normal day, how many hours do you practice?
This is a really large variable. I do try to get some time in daily, but it would be a lie if I told you I was super disciplined. I do play with my sticks most days. Sometimes only for 30 minutes to an hour, other days I will spend many hours on them.

How and where do you practice?
Anywhere I can.

Do you perform with devilsticks?
Yes.

Do you teach juggling?
Not as much as I would like to. I do share what I can whenever I can, but I do not have a structured outlet. This is something that has been increasingly on my mind of late. I have reached the point in my own progression that teaching is the next logical step. I want more people to stick with, so it is up to me to teach them..

Why do you like devilsticks?
One of my favorite things about sticks as a prop is that everyone you meet who uses them has their own unique style. The are as dynamic of a prop as can be. When you are dialed in with this prop, you are REALLY dialed in. I think it is great how everyone who uses them loves them, and it is always fun for me to meet new stick players and see where their own unique approach took them.

What are your strong/weak points?
I have been giving contact heavy attention lately, so it has become a strength. Very few people do this with sticks. My weak points I would say are handstick flairs and footwork. There are a couple contact moves in which my footwork is what is holding me up. I am up to two Jesus Rolls back to back, tho not with complete consistency. I can tell it is my footwork and sloppy pirouettes that are holding me back from performing these rolls continuously, which is a goal.

How is juggling life in the USA? Are devilsticks popular?
Juggling is currently experiencing heavy growth in the USA. I would not go so far as to call it mainstream, but it is growing. One frustrating thing is this growth in the USA is directly linked to the use of fire. Every time I am out juggling people ask me if/tell me to use fire. I love using fire, it would just be nice if it was appreciated for the sake of the skill. Sticks in particular occupy a funny space in the awareness of juggling. I would say most people have been exposed to them, but very few have ever seen anyone who is honestly proficient in their use. Almost everyone has at some point goofed off with them as a child, everywhere I go people want to play with my sticks. Of course they just toss them around, but it makes them smile and laugh, and that is awesome. This is one of the reasons I feel I have reached the point where I desire to start a practice of teaching. People want to play with them, but they have a steeper learning curve than most props so very few people stay with them. All they need is someone to lead the way.

What is your goal related with devilsticks? What is a challenge for you?
I want to get in on the teaching and performing path. I feel that it is just the natural progression. I have reached a point in my juggling that everything I want to do with it requires training. I will not get any better just goofing off, I am past that point. Starting a practice of teaching and performing would involve me in this full time in such a manner than I would always be training. This would not only fulfill my own personal goals, but it would be doing my part in cultivating the growth. I think my challenges in this are the same as everyone else who has reached this point before me. I didn't reach this point with the original goal of becoming a teacher/performer. I just played until that became the natural path. So now my challenge is to fully embrace this and learn how to create this niche for myself.

How do you imagine yourself when you are old? Will you still juggle?
Oh yes, I will juggle when I am old. It must be a guy thing, but thinking of myself as an old greyhair really makes me smile. It is going to be fun to school the young pups in some nasty tricks.

Can you imagine not juggling devilsticks any more?
No. No I cannot.

Who do you recommend devilsticks for?
Anyone! It doesn't matter who you are.

What do you advice to beginner/advanced devilstick players?
Have fun, and participate in community. For years I had friends who urged me to get active in online communities, and for years I gave it little thought. I am from a small town in Alaska, and I just played with my sticks at summer festivals, and snowboarded all winter. I never really got active with what was happening online, and being in a small Alaskan town I was very isolated. Recently I have been paying closer attention. Participation in these communities has done wonders to connect me to people who share my passion, and push me forward on my own path. It really accelerates progression. Make videos. It doesn't matter if you are "the best" or whatever. Video is a fantastic way to get feedback from your community who understands what they are watching.


Bravo Juggling presents: Stick Heroes
January 2013 - Will Young ▶
August 2012 - Lluis Gomez Lopez - LUCO ▶
July 2012 - Florent Lestage ▶
June 2012 - Rafael Kirashov ▶
May 2012 - Lukas Reichenbach - Lund ▶
April 2012 - Michael Sather - Stixguru ▶
March 2012 - Yuho Fukuzawa - Pyokofrog ▶
February 2012 - David Hirshman - Devil Stix Dave ▶
January 2012 - Alessandro Budroni - Alestix ▶
October 2011 - Itaken ▶
September 2011 - Bálint Turai ▶
August 2011 - Rodrigo Huenchupan Contreras ▶
July 2011 - Simon Oganisyan ▶
June 2011 - Tomás Di Tomaso ▶
May 2011 - Nikki Snijders ▶
April 2011 - Markus Furtner ▶
March 2011 - Adam Dipert ▶
February 2011 - Paul Rozaire - Polostick ▶
January 2011 - Alì Akbar Rahati Nover - Ghost ▶

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