Page 16 Spring 1988
& Take Teams Find the Secret to Success in Philly
The Give and Take Jugglers, juggling is not a job or even an
adventure. For the past 12 years it's been a calling.
Gillies, Nick Gregory and various apprentices have entertained tens
of thousands in the Philadelphia, Penn., area and been directly and
indirectly responsible for teaching thousands more to juggle.
the beginning years," said Gillies. "Teaching large
numbers of people to juggle at a festival made me feel like a
missionary spreading the 'Joyful Catch.'"
a surprising attitude for a teacher who retired five years ago to
juggle full time, or for the grandson of a fundamentalist
evangelical preacher. "What
we're doing is quite similar to my grandfather preaching on the
street," he said. "Juggling has an evangelistic quality in
that it's entertaining. People are converted by juggling as they are
by preaching, just to different ends."
For several years, the troupe was made up entirely of Gillies and his fifth grade students. "It took me weeks to learn from the Carlo book, but then it only took a fe" minutes for my students to learn from me personally," he said. "We approached it and practiced it as a sport, but people quickly began expecting us to perform."
own personal performance career began with help from another
he played the harmonica and juggled at the same time! The only thing I
could think of to top that was to put a ball in my mouth and juggle
convinced Gillies to perform the bit with him at a coffeehouse. Peck
also came to Gillies' school to teach students some of his tricks.
Peck's help, Gillies and the class developed some material and began
to perform for free at nursing homes, children's hospitals and other
schools. They soon moved on to performances and workshops at the
Philadelphia Folk Festival, where they taught 1,500-2,000 people a
year to juggle. "We didn't even have a name for two years, but
came up with 'Give and Take' because it was a nice double entendre for
describing the process by which we all learned."
He and his class attended the 1977 IJA convention in Newark, Del. Then Gillies began the professional Give and Take company by doing two-man shows with Thien Phu. Gillies continued to work with students at the same time. One girl, Page Wolper, performed with GilIies and Phu for about three years. Like many other students he has worked with, she has moved on to an honorable future. She's now enrolled at Harvard University.
David Cousin and David Gillies of the Give & Take Jugglers with the group's hurdy-gurdy.