Music. Dancing. Comedy. And, of course, juggling.
|Members of Jonglissimo, a juggling group based in Austria, present a tribute to Maurice Ravel and his orchestral work Boléro during 'A Taste of Vaudeville' presented by the International Jugglers' Association at Kobacker Hall in Bowling Green. (Photos: Enoch Wu/Sentinel-Tribune)
The International Jugglers' Association brought "A Taste of Vaudeville" to Kobacker Hall on the campus of Bowling Green State University Tuesday night, showcasing a variety of acts with one thing in common: a penchant for keeping balls - and other objects - in the air.
"We're here, I hope, to see some good juggling and to see some good shows," said Mike Gilligan of Arcadia. A longtime IJA festival attendee, Gilligan's son, Jay Gilligan, is also a juggler, and will perform on Saturday.
"You never know what to expect," Gilligan said of juggling shows, adding later, with a laugh, "Keep an open mind."
The anticipation of the acts was palpable even before the show and during intermission, as numerous attendees in the lobby of Kobacker, and even in their seats, sat with juggling balls, rings and clubs, and practiced a few close-order routines while they waited.
The night opened with Cirque du Soleil alumnus Steven Ragatz. Dressed in a bowler-style hat, suit, and tie, and carrying a briefcase and umbrella, Ragatz looked as though he'd stepped out of a Rene Magritte painting as he juggled large red balls using his hands, hat, and umbrella. He later performed a rolling balance routine using a series of suitcases and white cylinders, upping the ante each time as he stacked the suitcases and even created an extended series of drums which he appeared to surf on.
Circus and television veteran Rob Torres showed off his juggling chops as well as a healthy dose of physical comedy during his two routines Dressed in a baggy blue coat, tie, and red cap, Torres juggled shaker cups, his hat, and a whimsical sense of humor as he engaged the audience in some participation routines.
|Juggler Rob Torres attempts to catch cups during an act in 'A Taste of Vaudeville'.
Perhaps the most technically difficult display came from Austria-based quintet Jonglissimo, who performed a 17-minute routine to Maurice Ravel's famous classical piece, "Bolero." As the music moved towards its crescendo, the act increased incomplexity.
Beginning with one man on stage handling a single club, and then three, the number of performers, and clubs, continued to increase. Soon the jugglers were performing intricate passing maneuvers and stepping in for one another as the flying clubs went from six to nine to 12 to 15.
For their finale, each of the five men continued to juggle non-stop, keeping more than 19 clubs in the air.
Circus Stella presented big top-style acts during the show. Aided by his wife, Jayna Lee, Dextre Tripp braved the tightrope on stage, juggling with clubs, riding a unicycle, and even walking across the rope while his wife sat on it. Tripp twice attempted to stand on a chair while it, too, balanced on the tightrope, but couldn't quite pull off the stunt.
"Before I do this, I'd like to point out, even monkeys fall from trees," he said. The duo later brought out three of their dogs to perform as well.
Ohioan David Cain presented a series of musical juggling tricks, including using the ukelele and melodica, and playing "Mary Had a Little Lamb" on the harmonica while simultaneously spinning a lariat around himself and juggling two balls in his other hand.
Gymnasts Kellin and Chauncey from Circus Harmony performed gymnastics, tumbling and balancing acts for the audience, and teenage juggling and the Jugheads Youth Juggling troupe offered a comical act spotlighting "Dance Styles Around the World."
The show was part of a series of performances continuing throughout the week as part of the IJA festival. For a list of events, visit www.juggle.org/ija/festival/.