Page 28                                            Spring 1995

A Tale of Two Arms

By Bill Giduz, Editor


You might think that only having one arm would limit what you can do in the world of juggling, but Dale Jones and Casey Boehmer prove that even basic natural equipment is optional in this versatile art.


Fate has forced each man to develop a one-sided approach to juggling, but fate could not hinder the creativity and ambition they have applied to it. They make a curious couple, thrust together in the public eye by their common handicap and their proximity.  Other than those two factors, they are very different people.


Jones is the veteran. He works as a professional comedy juggler, touring clubs and fairs for the past 18 years from his base in St. Louis, Missouri.  Boehmer, 16, lives within 70 miles of St. Louis in Jerseyville and performs mostly as a member of the 12-person Boehmer Family Jugglers act.   But Casey would rather not say a word on stage, letting his strong right arm express his entire spirit in classical form as he cascades up to five balls, five rings and four clubs.


Youthful and enthusiastic, Boehmer works hard to improve his technical skills, motivated now by placing third in the Juniors at last year's IJA festival in Burlington and the "Most Incredible" trophy he received at the Groundhog Day Juggler's Festival.  He plans to enter the Juniors this year with a new and improved act, and says he would like to make a career of Vegas-style technical juggling.


Mature and wise, Jones also practices regularly to improve his technical skills, but mostly for his own edification. The five ball in one hand bounce multiplex he has created and dubbed "Jones Jewel" was built on two decades of preliminary moves. Most of his highly technical work never makes it to the stage, but satisfies his drive to explore an aspect of the art that fully armed jugglers never consider. "Not that I'd wish an accident like mine on anyone, but the way my life has worked out is neat," he said. "I've gotten to really explore something that had never been done before."


That optimistic statement summarizes Jones's attitude toward his handicap. Injured in a playground fall at eight, his right arm atrophied and he was left with virtually no function below the elbow.  Though he tried hard to fit in on sport teams, coaches and team­mates discouraged him because  of his bad arm.  "I got tired of people telling me I couldn't do things when I knew I could," Jones said. 


He decided  to try juggling at age 15 when he saw a classmate entertaining a table of girls in the lunchroom. "I started working on two ball juggling with my hand, and when I got it on the third or fourth try, it was the most magical moment of my life," he said. "It's hard to explain but from then on everything was different for me."

Casey Boehmer - Potrait of a future champ? (Bill Giduz photo)

Casey Boehmer - Potrait of a future champ? (Bill Giduz photo)


(l-r) Casey Boehmer and Dale Jones don't let disabilites interfere with juggling.

(l-r) Casey Boehmer and Dale Jones don't let disabilites interfere with juggling.

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