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I have a brief stop in NYC on route to Europe, and I was invited by an old friend and his girlfriend to see "Juggle This" at Pratt Institute. While not all of the acts were juggling -- sadly, for the dogs were almost exclusively lame attempts at comedy -- there were four very different performers of such beauty that I can still barely speak.

The first was Brent McCoy, whose "Juggling Clown" was more stylized than standard circus-like. He performed two routines while never breaking his quite smooth persona. His first act was juggling up to five orange construction cones, which was lovely, especially with the weightiness of the cones, but his second act, in which he did quite amazing things with a Stanley tape measure, was topped by the single most skilled demonstration with diablos , hour-glass shaped contraptions which are manipulated by an unattached cord through their center, that I've ever seen, let alone imagined.

Florent Lestage, a 22-year-old Frenchman who is at circus school in Montreal, also performed twice. He is a natural mover, even if not a trained one and in each of his acts used the full stage in the most three dimensional way of any performer, quite literally when he juggled clubs in a full circle and when he transitioned from circular to parallel juggling. In his first act, he used two devil sticks, and like McCoy, managed to top a brilliant act with his second, in which he became a facet of the Little Tramp in an overcoat, juggling clubs and a cane, using the latter to locomote, sometimes catching a club with the handle of a cane and juggling the joined element, and catching and balancing a club on the cane itself. His handling had an angelic delicacy and his performances were exquisite.

The third magnificent juggler was Jens Sigsgaard, a Dane who performs in France. He did one long routine, a combination of air and body juggling. His juxtaposition of rhythms and style was masterful in its construction and complexity.

Sadly, the videos on the Internet of the last two performers don't really do justice to them. The two Sigsgaards on YouTube are far less smooth and tight -- they're from a 2006 performance -- but they and the Lestage give a sense of how the two move.


The last was more of a circus act performed by Gregory Arsenal and Yannick Thomas called "Le Con et L'Ange," in which the smaller of the two, dress in cut-off pants with angel wings, jumps on, does a series of planges with, and generally harasses the larger of the two; his was a puckish rather than benevolent angel. Besides the gymnastic skill -- and the smaller man had fantastic form, to the tips of his toes -- the psychological dynamic in the theater was vivid and compelling.

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