Page 10                                                 May 1980

From Nowhere To Stardom Via A Library

by Ethel Sikorsky Baltimore, MD


Bert Sikorsky, my husband, became an amateur clown 13 years ago. Subsequently, he became president of Clowns of America and editor of its magazine, "The Calliope." After dad began clowning around, his sons Tom (then 10), AI (then 8) and Larry (then 6) naturally wanted to join. They learned how to apply make-up, costumes and wigs, then began participating in skits and gags with dad. But, wanting to be different, they looked around for something else to combine with their clowning.


Tom got a book on juggling from the neighborhood library and everyone learned. That's how "The Sikorskys" jugglers came to be. From balls, they progressed to rings, clubs, axes, tennis rackets and baseball bats - anything they could find three of. I was a fifth-grade teacher then, and would often enter the classroom to find the three boys juggling blackboard erasers, chalk, hats and gloves.


"The Sikorskys" spent a great deal of time practicing. When Tom was 15, he joined Circus Kirk, an all-student circus where he joined other talented jugglers such as Steve Mills, Mike Straka, Craig Carlson and Bobby Pleis. Each summer, as they became old e­rough, the other brothers joined Circus Kirk, until finally the juggling act on Circus Kirk was "The 'Sikorskys."


The boys spent each summer from May to September perfecting their juggling, unicycling and rolling globe stunts. They also learned as much as they could about showmanship. It's not an easy way to spend your summers; as anyone else who's worked with a 'mud show' will agree.


Today, The Sikorskys have a fast paced juggling act that rivals any in the country. Their act consists of single juggling, seldom seen three-man juggling and passing routines. They juggle on 6-foot unicycles, juggle two-man high on the 3-foot cycle and jug­gle on the rolling globes. They are currently working on passing routines with clubs on the 6­foot cycles.


While seated in the audience at the start of a recent show in Delaware, a magician friend asked how the boys learned to juggle. I replied, "From a library book." The guys came out and began their opening, a routine of single juggling with clubs. After the boys took their first style bow, the magician again turned to me and asked, "Are you sure they learned that from a book?"


Of course, as I said before, the act they present today is the result of much practice and work. The boys have also been helped along by some of the best jugglers in our area, including Lou Meyers, Nick Gatto, Vin Carey of Baltimore and Ed Sparrow of Virginia.


Tom and AI were never able to attend an IJA convention because of their summer work. But the highlight of Larry's last summer at home before joining Circus Kirk was a trip to the IJA convention in Youngstown, OH, with our friend Nick Gatto.


Larry carne home bragging that he had participated in a five-man pivot with Hovey and Judy Burgess. Bert and I attended the 1977 IJA convention in Delaware. At the Saturday night banquet, someone made a statement that was to become very important to us later. He or she said, "Go out and teach someone to juggle. We want everyone to    juggle."


The Sikorskys are now associated with Juggle Bug Co. Our corporation TAL World-Wide Productions, Inc. (T for Tom, A for AI, L for Larry) are East coast distributors and demonstrators for the West coast-based Juggle Bug Co.

After the Christmas 1979 shows, Tom retired from the act to teach juggling with Steven and Grady Prosser, from Baltimore, in the physical education classes of schools in this area. They teach "An Adventure in Motor Learning," which includes a demonstration of advanced juggling, a film and individual class instruction. Along with teaching, Tom is also in charge of the TAL sales department.


Tom, newly married with a year-old daughter, had to be replaced in the act. AI and Larry contacted their friend Bobby Pleis, formerly with the Fantastic Flying V's of Norristowri, PA, who said he would gladly join. With Bobby's skills, they have not only equaled, but improved upon the original juggling act. Today these three (AI, Larry and

Bobby) comprise the following acts: The Juggling Sikorskys, The Unicycling Wilsons, The Rolling Royales and Bobby Pleis on the trampoline.


AI, Larry and Bobby recently completed a six­week engagement at La Fuente Casino in Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic. They returned to the State March 31 for a tour, which ended May 4. Back in Baltimore now, they are scheduled for two weeks of local shows and appearances on the "Bozo TV Show" in Chicago May 20-22. Later they will also appear in Denver, Kansas City and for three weeks at Canobie Lake Park in Salem, NH. Further into the summer, they will be on Prince Edward Island and Halifax in the Cana­dian province of Nova Scotia. dian province of Nova Scotia.


On the road, The Sikorskys carry 19 unicycles, including minis, regulars, 6-footers, 15­footers, seatless and zig-zag models. They also do a 3-man, 3-globe rolling globe act. Bob­by Pleiss does both comedy and skilled trampoline stunts.


The Sikorskys have worked fairs, parks and festivals all over New England and eastern Can­ada. They have also appeared on stage at the Hershey Theatre in Hershey, PA, and at both the museums of Natural History and History and Technology in our nation's capital.


They've appeared at Boston's Symphony Hall and did a half­time show during a Washington Redskins football game.


They have toured both short and long with a number of stage shows and circuses, and have been seen on television appear­ances with both PBS and NBC


As you can see, the career that started from a library book on juggling is keeping The Sikor­skys very busy. Good luck and best wishes to all jugglers from The Sikorskys and TAL World­Wide Productions.

The Sikorskys 'hack around' on unicycles.

The Sikorskys 'hack around' on unicycles.

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