Juggling outside the box: Michael Moschen to explore subject of creativity in Jersey City



“Tapping Your Creativity” is the subject of a demonstration and lecture that juggler Michael Moschen will present March 29 at New Jersey City University. That’s an unusual kind of presentation for a juggler to present, but Moschen is no ordinary juggler. He’s appeared at festivals all over the world, and worked with prestigious organizations such as Cirque du Soleil, Pilobolus and the Big Apple Circus. He consulted on the Jim Henson-directed movie “Labyrinth” (starring David Bowie), was the pre-Teller partner of Penn Jillette, and has received a Fellowship from the MacArthur Foundation (also known as the Genius Grant).

And if you have any doubt of his juggling prowess, just check out the videos below.

I talked to the Connecticut resident about the upcoming event — which is free and open to the general public — earlier this week.

Q: So, what you’re doing in Jersey City … how much of it is lecture, and how much is performance? What can people expect to see?

A: They can expect to see performance, and they can expect to participate in some things. The lecture part of it … I’m not a big fan of lecturing by standing behind a podium and talking about ideas. I like to mix it up and get into doing things, whether it’s performing, or analyzing the structure or the underlying spirit or emotion of what I’m working on, or what I’m performing. It’ll be a pretty active process.

The last couple of years, I’ve been focusing a great deal on what learning is all about. This being something on creativity, I’m going to try to explore the creative aspects of going after new things, which basically has been my whole career. So I’m sort of bringing people into that process.

Q: So you not only talk about the mechanics of juggling, but also the creative process?

A: Well … I’m a juggler because you have to put a category somewhere, as far as what somebody does, so people have a general idea. For many years, when people have written about my work, they’ve had a difficulty with that. Yeah, I’m a juggler, and my background is studying the history of the craft.

But being a creative artist — and using, as my medium, objects — it does touch on juggling a great deal, but it also explores physics, and mathematics, and nature, and how we understand shape and texture and color, and all different kinds of things.

I’m not a big fan of boundaries, and definitions that limit the possibilities. I’m trying to open things up to the audience, so therefore I’ll start with something simple, maybe a technique that I’ve invented, and go after why that technique happened, and also the new language that it’s speaking. So that gets more and more into the sense of creativity.

Q: Is you’re goal partially, at least, to make people see juggling, to use that word …

A: That’s alright, you’re allowed to use it (laughs)

Q: … to see juggling as more than just a trick, and actually as an art form?

A: Anything that anybody really loves … if you’re alive and you love something, and you maybe have sought out people who love it as well, and do it at a very high level, you can find out things that are not specifically within that discipline.

So if you say “juggling,” and then you immediately jump to, “somebody who throws things around,” well, I would counter that by saying, “Jugglers have existed in all cultures throughout history, and what they are is a necessary force, in that they are the personification of being in control.” So they’re the master controller. And that can be done for all sorts of different reasons. When I’ve made pieces, sometimes I’m an alchemist, sometimes I’m the high priest, sometimes I’m a jester, sometimes I’m a communicator.

My experiences with my craft, in my field, leads me to believe that it’s human expression, and if you’re doing it honestly, and listening closely to what needs to be expressed, it’s like any other art form.

The lecture and demonstration takes place March 29 at 6:30 p.m. at the Margaret Williams Theatre at Hepburn Hall, New Jersey City University, 2039 Kennedy Boulevard, Jersey City. There is no admission charge.

The event is part of NJCU’s Winter/Spring 2016 Presidential Speaker Series, which will conclude with a talk by Carolyn Porco, imaging science team leader for NASA’S Cassini mission to Saturn, April 4 at 6:30 p.m. at the IMAX Theatre of the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City; visit njcu.edu for information.

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1 comment

Robert O'Donnell March 25, 2016 - 12:03 pm

Michael Moschen is amazing! I saw him many years ago. It was a thoughful and very entertaining performance…


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