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Juggling Society balances more than schedules

By bensacks

Section: Features

November 14, 2008

Juggling society meets in the Alumni Lounge in Usdan from 8-10 Thursday nights.<br /><br /><i>PHOTO BY Ben Sacks/The Hoot</i>

Juggling society meets in the Alumni Lounge in Usdan from 8-10 Thursday nights.

PHOTO BY Ben Sacks/The Hoot

When Dan Weisz ’09 joined Juggling Society during his first semester at Brandeis, he already knew how to juggle. But now he’s better. Rather than three balls at a time, he can do seven. He can also ride a unicycle and he’s hoping to soon be able to walk on stilts.

Perhaps Juggling Society should be more aptly named “Carnival Club,” given the range of activities on the club’s weekly agenda. In addition to the above, members of Juggling Society can learn how to swing devil sticks, poi (balls on a chain that make a cool design in the air when you swing them around in certain patterns), diablo (Chinese yo-yo) and if they are really daring, do all of these things while on stilts.

Juggling Club was founded in 1999 by four then-sophomores who resided in the Castle and came to know each other through their love of juggling. The four would juggle for fun in the Castle common room, and then figured, as Weisz put it, “why not form an official club?”

Coincidentally, one of the four was Scott Seltzer ’07, in no way related to the famous Scott Seltzer who performs juggling acts all over the world as a profession. He can be seen juggling garden shears at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lGYERT2wIBY.

Another of the four, Brad Guttkin ’07, had a personal friend who happened to be a professional juggling instructor and treated the club to “tutoring” sessions during some of its weekly meetings. Since then, the club has used its meager funding each semester to slowly stock up equipment so that various members can do activities at the same time. Juggling Society has had some interesting experiences with the Brandeis Student Union.

Rejected were requests for such items as a “Zombie Ball,” a ball that can be manipulated to give the illusion that it is floating in midair, and extra juggling balls, but accepted was a request for “Juggling Knives,” phrased as “We think learning to juggle knives would be fun and exciting in performances.” Juggling society used to throw fire-sticks – sticks that are caught and thrown on one end as fire burns at the other – but when a new Waltham Fire Chief took office in 2006, he decided that it was too dangerous.

Juggling society has grown from four regular members to approximately 15, and has since performed at the bi-annual Festival of the Arts and at coffeehouses at Chums. During the “Brandeis Cares” campaign, a capella singers were taught how to juggle and Juggling Society members were taught how to sing.

Neither acquired the other’s skills very well.

Why go? “It’s a real stress reliever,” explained Weisz. “I love it.” Jokingly, he added “I’m always trying to get my hands on some balls.”

Students interested in attending a meeting should head on over to the Alumni Lounge in Usdan, over Levin ballroom, from 8-10 p.m. on Thursday nights.

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