For junior Alec McGowan, his love for juggling began after being influenced by his older brother. Though not a fan of juggling when he first tried at age 11, he started up again when he was just entering high school. McGowan’s brother attended school in Canada for juggling and now performs professionally in Australia.
“My brother started doing it when he was in middle school. I thought it was kind of dumb for a long time that he did it and then he started to get good and I thought it was kind of cool,” he said.
McGowan had considered going to circus school instead of coming to Knox. He said that, for many who are involved in the circus, college is not a priority.
“A lot of the things that circus people say is that college is always there but circus isn’t,” he said. “But I kind of disagree, especially because college is so much more expensive.”
Since juggling is not as dependent on flexibility or agility as those in acrobatics, McGowan is not worried about losing his physical ability to juggle. He values the independence when learning to juggle. He noted that, unlike many other acts, jugglers need to rely only on themselves.
“When you’re learning other skills in the circus like tight wire and aerials and acrobatics, you usually have someone holding you,” he said. “You usually have a spotter or some kind of harness on. And those are all valuable things for those skills.”
McGowan mentioned that juggling requires muscle memory, patience and luck.
He described the frustration of working on a certain trick for so long and seeing no noticeable progress. Anyone who wants to get into juggling should be able to handle a lot of dropping and objective failures.
“It’s one of the most hopeless things in the world — when you’ve been working on a trick for years and you still can’t even get two or three catches of it,” he said.
Though McGowan does not find time to practice much during the school year, he plans to go on a tour of the northeast with a friend this summer. He finds that, when he is around a community of fellow jugglers, his motivation to practice is much greater than when he isn’t immersed in a community.