Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Club juggles fun and fancy

Matthew Harrison/Collegian

From juggling torches to acrobatics to unicycles, the Juggling Club, meeting every Wednesday in the Boyden wrestling room at 6:30 p.m., offers an array of awing object-manipulation activities.’ Welcoming those looking to sharpen their skills or be introduced to the art, this registered student organization at the University of Massachusetts Amherst includes certified juggling teachers and an opportunity to learn something new.

The club’s diverse membership is made up of high school students, undergraduates, graduates and post-docs. Even jugglers living in the nearby areas attend the meetings. Versatility in the activities include traditional ball juggling, club juggling, rings, contact juggling, poi (which involves balls on ropes being swung in circular patterns), staves, meteors, diabolos, yo-yos, devil sticks, acrobatics and the unicycle. What makes the experience even more enriching, however, is that fact that people can be in the company of others with similar interests.

One member of the club, Katherine Skipper, a junior at UMass remarked, ‘It is great to find a group of people as crazy as I am who enjoy the same things. Also, you find out that you have never learned everything.’

Joshua Drolet, president of the club, said, ‘It’s usually more fun to juggle with more people because you can learn from them and teach them.”

Juggling, which is derived from the term jogelen, meaning to entertain by performing tricks, is the physical human skill involving the movement of one or more objects, usually through the air. Though popular in early civilizations, the sport became more popular after the fall of the Roman Empire. During the 19th century, the popularity of music hall theatre led to a demand in jugglers to entertain the audience during intermissions. Nowadays, it is viewed more as a hobby.

The International Jugglers Association was developed in the 1950s and now hosts regular conventions. The association’s formation led to World Juggling Day, where juggling is recognized and jugglers are encouraged to celebrate everywhere. World Juggling Day is expected to take place this year on June 20, 2009.

Henry Lappen, a professional juggler for more than 25 years, not only teaches others in the club, but is also an active member of this International Jugglers Association.

The Juggling Information Service Committee on Numbers was created, which maintains the official numbers of juggling records.Because of this committee, those who are highly competitive and passionate can strive to someday beat the world record of juggling with a particular prop.

In the early 1980s, the International Juggling Convention, which previously took place at Hampshire College, moved to UMass, and the club has expanded and excelled under talented jugglers at the university.

Another member of the Juggling Club, Daniel Coyne, who is a marketing consultant said, ‘You learn ‘hellip; because the moves are broken down to less intimidating ones.’

More importantly, the idea behind the process of learning can be applied to any other discipline or activity.

Though the club usually performs at various UMass events, what many look forward to most is seeing the jugglers use torches and spin fire poi as well as fire staff. This type of entertainment normally takes place during the spring and summer near the campus pond.

Drolet also said, ‘The goal for the group is to introduce the jugglers of
the Amherst area so they can practice their skills and become better.’ Another major goal, if not our most important, is to teach others who are new to juggling how to juggle.’

Dinah Gorelik can be reached at [email protected].

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