Catawba student juggling much more than classes

Did you know that Catawba College in Salisbury has its very own highly skilled juggler?  As if juggling classes and college life wasn't enough, Cole McDonnell has to keep a lot more things up in the air.  Here's his story, provided to WBTV:

The performance arts are a thriving sector in today's world and have been since the beginning of time. While music, dance, theatre, and visual arts are the usual suspects in this crowd, there is another face of visual/ physical art which sometimes becomes forgotten and taken for granted: Circus. When merely taking a glance at this astonishing phenomenon, it is difficult for many to fathom the incredible amount of dedication, discipline, talent, and commitment which goes toward creating what is considered the Greatest Show on Earth!

SALISBURY, NC (WBTV) - One of the staples of the circus enterprise is object manipulation, also known as juggling. Juggling is a combination of dance, balance, imagination, timing, mathematical strategy, physical strength, musical expression and understanding, as well as personal discipline. Few have attempted this incredible feat, and even fewer have successfully achieved what is known as “a juggler's cascade”. When talking to someone who can juggle, they will probably tell you the same thing: “IT IS SO MUCH FUN!”

My name is Cole McDonnell, a music major at Catawba from Waverly, Pa.  I began juggling when I was 10 years old. I started eager as ever to expand my talents and challenge my mind. I started just like everyone else who first learns how to juggle, with a toss-toss-DROP-DROP. I was determined to accept the failure and push myself to never give up. Now, over ten years later, I am still juggling and incorporating this exciting hobby into my daily schedule.

Being that I am in my senior year at Catawba College, life is quite stressful. Aside from participating in the musical arts programs here, keeping up with friends/ family, and staying physically active, I find time every day to juggle because it relaxes me. It de-stresses my body and releases any pent up energy after sitting in a classroom for many hours of the day.

The Catawba PRIDE (marching band) chose a Cirque du Soleil-themed field show for their football games this fall, and this served as a perfect way to show public audiences how juggling can be incorporated into a college level music program. What truly never ceases to amaze me is the amount of wonder I can see in people's faces as they watch me juggle.

Recently, I was hired by a children's theatre company in Winston-Salem, as a juggler for a Halloween festival, and seeing the guests' eyes brighten up as I performed my tricks was all worth the incredible amount of practice time invested. It is such a mesmerizing thing to watch a juggler keep odd numbers of objects afloat, because it makes you wonder what they could be looking at, or thinking about during the act. My answer to these questions would be this: I am juggling the thoughts of what incredible trick comes next, and I am observing the beautiful sky as my props come plummeting back at me.

Many children have asked me to teach them how to juggle, and I always start my classes with the following quote: “You must learn to crawl before you learn to walk. Then learn to walk before you run.” This translates to juggling in one word: patience.  Juggling is a skill which requires active participation from both sides of the brain: creative/ imaginative and problem solving / physical awareness. In this case, it becomes an amazing physical and mental workout!

Being that this skill is difficult, it serves as an incredible boost of confidence when mastered. It always amazes me what people learn about themselves when I teach them how to juggle. They always begin by attempting, failing, then giving up almost immediately. It takes patience and mental strength to pick the objects back up and try, try again. Most people will say “I can't do this” when in reality, yes they absolutely can. I constantly tell my audiences that juggling is like anything else: something you practice and work towards. Practice doesn't always make perfect, but it certainly opens the opportunities to expand your potential. Giving up is too easy, so never give up is what I say! Have fun and do it for you, for your health, and to bring smiles to those who are witnessing the act.

If you or anyone you know wants to learn how to juggle, I will be offering lessons in Winston-Salem on November 20


at The Children's Theatre there between 11 am- 3 pm. Hope to see you there!