Photo: Lois Greenfield
Michael Moschen's path to performance success has led across deserts of introspection where few jugglers have dared tread.
In long years of quiet study of his props, his body, his mind and the world around him, Moschen has developed totally new forms of manipulation that stand out in bold contrast to the work of legions of look-alike comedy jugglers.
While almost all jugglers use three balls, Moschen created a ten foot triangle in which he stands to bounce them all around his body. He studied the fragility of a single crystal ball and, through hours of exploration and practice, developed a method of rolling crystal balls over his hands so they seem to float before him. He grasps two shining, curved rods and whips them around his body to create visual patterns from thin air.
His silent performances are spectacles of intense beauty. Moschen minimizes his own presence through blank expression and a dark body suit, and highlights instead the unique motions of his props.
His quiet genius has led to great success, though success has never been his goal. Growing up in Greenfield, Mass., he learned juggling at age 12 from his brother and next-door-neighbor Penn Gilette of the rogue magic team Penn and Teller. He got his first professional jobs with Penn, and the duo worked for a summer in an amusement park. Moschen's self-discipline was manifest early in his decision to drop out of high school. He explains:
"I was learning things in school rather than learning how to teach myself, which is what you have to do in life," he said. "So I just abandoned it and did ceramics for a year and a half."
He honed his art as a street performer after he and Penn went separate ways, and he became a founding performer in the Big Apple Circus from 1977-80. Since then he has done solo shows at the Brooklyn Academy of Music and Lincoln Center, was featured last year in a Public Broadcasting System documentary, and in 1990 won a five-year MacArthur Foundation Fellowship.
Still, he shuns the spotlight and, instead, follows his heart in trying to find new means of expression through manipulation of body and props. That mission has immersed him in the scholarly study of architecture, led him to serve as a carpenter's assistant and challenged him to learn dancing, martial arts and acrobatics.
He has traveled all over the world to perform in his 24-year career, but prefers to stay at home in Connecticut with his wife, Danielle Mailer, and daughter Isabella, to work on his art.
For more information take a look at the Christian Science Monitor article: A Juggler Extraordinaire.
Visit the NADA site.