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UCLA

Jazzed about Juggling

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By Robyn Stark

Published Jan 1, 2014 8:00 AM


“The secret . . . is patience, meditative focus and, in the face of defeat, resilience,” says Chris Smith ’07.

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Photo courtesy of Blue Man Productions

Chris Smith ’07 doesn't just juggle objects; he juggles careers. The TFT graduate once celebrated as “the UCLA Juggler,” who performed at football and basketball games, just wrapped a tour with the Blue Man Group, which followed an appearance on national television for his juggling act. Now he’s working on a screenplay for an action-comedy feature.

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But Smith’s passion remains juggling. His most recent stunt — a two-minute video titled "Juggling Around Iceland", with amazing footage of him tossing yellow balls in island locales — garnered more than 700,000 views on YouTube and earned him an invitation to NBC’s Today show in New York.

“Traveling has always been a really big part of juggling for me,” says the Denmark native. While on tour with Blue Man Group, Smith traveled to a new city every three to four days, performing eight shows per week and practicing during the day. But it was the long road trips his family took when he was a kid that started him down the path of success. In fact, it was on a family vacation to Yellowstone National Park that the then-12-year-old picked up a Juggling for the Complete Klutz book, accompanied by three small beanbags. He taught himself to juggle on road trips over the years. As he got more advanced, he traded his beanbags for machetes and fire torches and street performances. In 2010, at the age of 25, he joined Cirque du Soleil for a limited engagement.

“The secret to juggling is patience, meditative focus and, in the face of defeat, resilience,” he says. That advice came in handy during his open tryout for the Blue Man Group, when he was asked to drum as part of the audition. Having never picked up a drumstick before, he was understandably nervous. But with a little tenacity and some instruction from an old friend from his Cirque days, Smith passed the audition. One thing he’s learned for sure from juggling: “When you drop the ball, you have to pick it back up and keep going.”

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