Bosses of the high tosses

Flying objects fill the air at the Talent Elementary School gym on Tuesday evenings where the local juggling club welcomes all ages, skill levels, and interests. The club's definition of juggling is broad. "Juggling is the manipulation of an object for no real purpose," says organizer Jordan Saturen. In addition to tossing balls and clubs, some participants practice twirling devil sticks, flipping cigar boxes, and spinning yo-yos. Sometimes, a unicycle may even roll by, rounding out the circus-like atmosphere.

Saturen, a first grade teacher at Talent Elementary, started the club recently. An Ashland native, Saturen has been juggling on and off for close to 20 years. As he met other jugglers at parks in Ashland and Talent, he realized it would be good to have a place to practice and get to know people with similar interests. He's pleased with the response so far to the club, "I started this because I wanted to get back into practice. I knew if I set a time for myself, I'd do it." He gestures at his 21-month old son, "And my son loves being here."

As beanbags, clubs, and yo-yos zing about, Saturen's little boy toddles around the gym with other children, playing with equipment. "He's never been hit by anything," says yo-yo artist Eric Beekman. We're all aware of him and he just seems to know how to avoid stuff. He's gifted." Beekman has a suitcase of yo-yos, each serving specific goals. One is Teflon coated for speed, another has a string that attaches to the finger, but not the yo-yo, and others have wacky designs or are specifically for stunts. Beekman also demonstrates his skill with the diabolo, an hourglass-shaped spool that is spun and tossed on a string tied between two sticks, with one held in each hand. "If you can get it spinning, it can sort of climb the air," Beekman adds.

Krisgoat, a local artist, has been juggling for about — years. "I'm a juggling baby," she says. She credits Beekman, her boyfriend, with introducing her to the sport. Beekman demonstrates flower sticks, a juggling prop that consists of a fringed baton manipulated by two sticks. "He can juggle anything," says Krisgoat. Beekman, who works at the Shakespeare festival, occasionally does juggling performances and is part of the competitive yo-yo community. He even keeps a yo-yo attached to his belt loop for impromptu yo-yoing sessions.

While Saturen admits he is a good juggler, he'd rather practice or teach than perform for an audience. That doesn't mean he is shy about juggling five beanbags while holding a conversation or tossing juggling pins back and forth with a friend across the room. "I just love juggling, I'm actually surprised more people don't do it, " he says as he gives a quick juggling lesson to a visitor. "The equipment is cheap and you can do it anywhere."

Beekman also expresses his enthusiasm for juggling and the club itself, "We welcome everyone. You don't have to have any stuff or skill." He gestures to the wide-open gym, "juggling here is awesome. There's nothing to break."

The juggling club meets Tuesdays 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Talent Elementary School Gym, 307 W. Wagner Ave., Talent. For further information contact Jordan Saturen at 535-1163.

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