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Jugglers, acrobats to gather at MIT

Susan Saccoccia | 9/14/2017, 8:52 a.m.
The largest gathering of jugglers in the region, JuggleMIT offers a weekend of family-friendly events, including more than 30 workshops ...
Paris, a.k.a. the Hip-Hop Juggler courtesy of http://www.hiphopjuggler.com

Bringing together juggling aficionados, first-timers and fans of all ages, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology hosts JuggleMIT 2017, a three-day festival of juggling and kindred circus arts, from Sept. 22-24.

Tickets for the JuggleMIT Circus Show: $8, children up to age 12 & seniors 62 up; $10, students; $15, general admission.

A pass to access all JuggleMIT 2017 events, including the show: $15, children and seniors; $20, students; $30, general admission

For more information, visit: http://web.mit.edu/juggle/www/juggleMIT.html

The largest gathering of jugglers in the region, JuggleMIT offers a weekend of family-friendly events, including more than 30 workshops for all, from novices to pros, as well as two evening shows showcasing top local and international performers.

Friday night’s show presents 10 seasoned local acts, many from area colleges. Saturday night’s spectacular, the JuggleMIT Circus Show, features 10 world-renowned jugglers and circus performers, including its MC, comedian and acrobat Cate Great (Cate Flaherty), an alumna of the Quebec Circus School.

Held from 7 to 9 p.m. at MIT’s Kresge Auditorium, the show has a varied lineup, from veterans to newly emerging stars. Performers include the Red Trouser Show (David Graham and Tobin Renwick), a popular Faneuil Hall duo whose props include machetes and flaming torches; and Jonah Botvinick-Greenhouse, the youngest-ever Overall Champion of the World Juggling Federation, a title he won twice, first, in 2013, at age 14. Susan Voyticky, who performs and teaches at the Circus Warehouse in New York City, will orbit the stage in a Cyr wheel, blending acrobatic daring with balletic grace.

Performers also conduct workshops, held on Friday and Saturday in MIT’s Walker Memorial Building, at 142 Memorial Drive. Among the workshops are one-hour sessions in which beginners can learn to ride a unicycle or develop and perform a creative act with a partner.

Longstanding tradition

Sunday afternoon, juggling games take place in the lobby of Building 10, at 222 Memorial Drive, where since the ‘70s MIT Juggling Club members have met on Sundays for drop-in juggling sessions open to all. Their year-round tradition distinguishes the group as the oldest continuously operating drop-in juggling club in world.

Visitors have included the late MIT Professor Emeritus Claude E. Shannon, the founder of modern digital communications and information theory, whose feats also include building the first juggling robot. He constructed the robot with an Erector Set and gave it a head that resembles the great comedian W.C. Fields (1880-1946), who got his start as a juggler. (See Shannon introducing his robot at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sBHGzRxfeJY )

JuggleMIT builds on MIT’s tradition as a hub of juggling enthusiasts and, now in its third year as an annual festival, the event draws participants from throughout the Northeast.

The first JuggleMIT, held in 2014, was a one-day affair that drew about 40 attendees. They braved a blizzard to take part in a one-trick show. Each performer spent about five minutes on stage.

But the small gathering struck a chord, notes JuggleMIT co-founder, Ian Chesser, MIT ‘16, now a Ph.D. student in materials science at Carnegie Mellon University. Chesser organized the inaugural JuggleMIT with Stephen McCrory, MIT ‘14, then-president of the MIT Student Juggling Club.