Thomas Arthur
Juggler
EVENT: A night of juggling with music (from Paul Ely Smith and Gina Salá) at the Broadway Performance Hall on Sat Nov 25.

You describe yourself as "lyrical"--is that opposed to "epic" or "elegiac"? "The most difficult thing for me is to find a way to describe what I do to people--because I'm certainly not your 'Ride the ducks'-style street performer. The word lyrical describes my style in some ways--describes the flow and the movement and my relation to music, which is probably the most unique and interesting aspect to my work."

I'm sorry--"Ride the ducks"? "You know, that tour bus with all the quacking tourists on it--obnoxious. You see that flavor a lot with jugglers and street performers."

How many balls can you keep in the air? "I can juggle five balls in the air. I hate that question. When people see me, they always want to describe other jugglers that they've seen."

Why do you think they do that? "I don't know if they're trying to fit me into a certain category. Both with the media and when I'm trying to get gigs, people want to put me into their kiddie matinees. 'Oh, we've got a juggler! A juggler extraordinaire!'"

Is this what you saw yourself doing when you were a child? "I've always connected my juggling to music. I learned how to juggle when I was 11 years old, mostly to Simon & Garfunkel tunes; the first song that I choreographed to was 'Mother & Child Reunion.'"

That's Paul Simon solo. "Yeah, that whole album, I would just put that on and juggle in the basement all the time. I never wanted to be a performer, probably because all the jugglers I saw as a kid were just using juggling as a prop for comedy. For me it was simply a way to enter into a meditative trance."

Do you find yourself entering some kind of Zen state when juggling? "A lot of people ask that--maybe when they see it they have that quiet sense within themselves. Zen doesn't quite explain it for me, though there is a certain concentrated one-pointed focus, but it's more like Sufi spinning in its reach toward a place of ecstasy and dizzy delights."

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