It began in 7th grade. After his laptop failed him, he found himself bored and decided to experiment with juggling by self-teaching himself. Beginning simply with only three balls in the air, Joe Anderson, a junior at Concordia College, dialed into his true talent. In his eight and a half years of practicing the skill, Joe has discovered his juggling abilities have gotten him to as many as seven balls the air at one time and beyond that, a multitude of different experiences.

Joe has found himself performing for audiences of all different sorts: a sophisticated older women’s Bunco party, the Northwest Art and Air Festival for a group of small children, the incoming class of freshman at the Welcome Show this fall, as well as numerous other appearances in some of Concordia’s showcases, and even a try-out on America’s Got Talent in the spring of 2011. This guy has done it all. His favorite though is a two person juggling, comedy routine that he does with a friend back home in Oregon. The dynamic duo pass a series of objects back and forth, tell a round of audience appealing jokes, and do occasional mind reading. It’s a crowd pleaser. His claim to fame when he came to Concordia was when he appeared on stage performing juggling tricks that were far from ordinary while decked out in a pair of brightly colored crazy socks, instantly charming the audience.

Interestingly enough, Joe argues that juggling, as it stands right now, is a controversial thing. “It’s gone from a mediocre side talent to something of big talent.”  The controversy began when Jason Garfield started the World Juggling Federation  in 2000 with the intent of sparking greater interest into juggling to make it an actual sport. Garfield was not happy with the reputation of circus acts and flaming tricks that juggling was associated with, so he created real sport competitions that recognized juggling as a true skill. Because of this and the heavy instructional component of juggling, it has become common to watch an amateur juggler go from a couple of balls to seven in a matter of months. The world’s first juggling competition aired live on ESPN 3 in 2011 and was held again this past August. Despite the push for a socially accepted athletic event, Joe claims that people would still rather go watch someone juggle three objects while eating an apple (which could be taught in a week) than watch someone juggle a large number of objects, which requires a whole lot more skill.

At this point in his life, Joe doesn’t practice on a daily basis. When he is feeling stressed, he collects seven of his favorite juggling balls and heads to Olson to release tension in a competition of personal progress. His inspiration: siblings Vova and Olga Galchenko from Russia, two of the best jugglers in the world who make juggling “very cool.” To put it into perspective, Joe comments, “They’re like to juggling what Michael Phelps is to swimming.”

Joe’s draw to juggling is how he finds it relating to his own life. “Juggling creates foundations that are similar for life. In juggling you need to build a strong base of skills and once mastered, need to be built upon. There is always another level; you can always add another ball. There are thousands of trick combinations that can be performed, an infinite amount of possibilities.” While Joe doesn’t specifically see a future as a juggler, his future career ambitions include becoming some sort of a public speaker. With this, Joe wants to incorporate his juggling skills. When tosses balls up into the air, he plans to not only catch the descending objects, but also the attention of his audience. Joe believes that with this tactic he will be able to make a special connection with the crowd and leave a lasting message.

Joe’s juggling abilities should never be underestimated. Anyone who has seen him perform knows that it’s easy to become mesmerized when he begins to juggle. He exerts great confidence and ease when channeling his energy into something he clearly loves to do. He makes it look all too easy. When Joe is juggling you’ll find yourself labeling the skill as downright “cool” and wonder where you can buy a pair of juggling balls like his so you too can start to become a master juggler. While Joe has no upcoming performances, his juggling career at Concordia is far from over. Be on the lookout for the man dazzling you with the number of balls he can juggle and of course, the crazy colored socks.

 

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