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

“We assembled a critical mass of jugglers in one place in the Boston-Cambridge area for the first time in a long time,” says Chesser. “We simply wanted there to be more jugglers in one place at the same time. There are lots of good jugglers in the area, but they are rarely in the same place.”

Word spread and the following year, JuggleMIT ‘15 drew 200 attendees over three days, including performers from New York and Philadelphia.

An epicenter

JuggleMIT ’17 organizer Cole Perkinson, a Ph.D. student in physical chemistry, describes MIT as “an epicenter of recreational juggling in the Boston area,” just as Faneuil Market is a hub for street performers. JuggleMIT fulfills a unique role by taking the lead in bringing artists together, says Perkinson, the current president of the MIT Student Juggling Club. “This event bridges the gap between street and recreational juggling and also extends to circus artists and acrobats.”

“Artists come from all over,” says Harlem-based Paris (a.k.a. “The Hip-Hop Juggler”), a Saturday night headliner who has performed on the “Today Show,” “Sesame Street” and at the White House. “We get to see what others are doing and after, meet and talk about what we like to do. It’s an all-in-one package with a great show plus workshops and games for people at all levels.”

Last year, at JuggleFest ’16, Paris led a workshop on juggling to music. “Each has its own timing,” says Paris. “You have to trick juggling out of its normal timing so that it works with the timing of the music.”

A 2004 graduate of Manhattanville College, Paris recalls getting his own start at age nine from an outreach program of the Big Apple Circus. “Performers came to my school in Harlem and taught us to use trapezes and trampolines. By age 12, I was juggling, too.”

On Sunday, some JuggleMIT games will take an MIT spin, says Paris, who recalls a challenge from last year’s Simon Says session. “Players were asked to juggle three balls and throw one under the leg as many times as the 8th digit of pi after the decimal point.”

But JuggleMIT is no nerd fest and plenty of activities suit newcomers. “JuggleMIT draws lots of bucket-list people who always wanted to try juggling but had no idea how,” says Paris. “Some of the best jugglers on the planet will be here to help you.”