Performer wows with bright and vibrant routine
THE SANTA CLARA
April 23, 2015
Reoccurring Love Jones performer David Lyons can’t recall a time when he couldn’t juggle. Breaking brains with his mind-bending juggling-in-the-dark routine, he doesn’t have plans to quit any time soon.
“There’s just something about performing that I really enjoy,” said Lyons. “It frightens me, because within a second, hundreds of people are judging you. But right before I go onstage, there’s no better feeling. I can feel my whole body pulsing.”
A junior, Lyons puts tremendous thought into each routine and mixes his own music for his performances. Though his moves may blow the minds of novices, the darkness pushes Lyons towards improvisation over rigid structure and showmanship over flawless technique.
“When the (ball) drop is going on, I’m just throwing them as fast as I can. Like, if you saw it in the light, it would actually not be that cool,” he said and laughed. “But it looks crazy in the dark.”
Performing onstage is as much a task of the mind as it is of the body, and everything else falls away.
“It’s meditative,” said Lyons. “The second you think about something else, you stop thinking about juggling. That’s when (accidental) drops happen. If you heard what was going on in my mind it’s like ‘throw, throw, catch, throw, throw catch.’ Literally that’s all I’m thinking about.”
Lyons approaches his craft with the calm confidence that can only be earned through repeated failures in front of large audiences.
“I know that dropping is inevitable, but it’s almost a metaphor for life,” said Lyons. “Every time you drop a ball, you have to decide -— are you gonna stop, or are you gonna pick it back up and keep going?”
Lyons started his craft when his kindergarten gym class did a segment on juggling. After discovering he had a knack for the hobby, he started practicing at recess and went on to scour YouTube for tutorials on how to perform new tricks.
As a ninth grader, Lyons and a friend busked at the Northwest Folklife Festival in Seattle. There, Lyons met an older juggler, who showed him the two moves he now uses the most.
One is “Rubenstein’s Revenge,” where Lyons criss-crosses his arms as he swirls two balls in the middle of a looping arc of the third ball. The other is “The Machine.” Lyons streaks one ball in a rectangle while juggling the other two. Since his act mostly deals in swirls, the angular shifts provide a double-take-inducing contrast that nearly hyponitizes.
With goals to perform at his high school talent show, Lyons practiced his moves every day, but his act was still lacking a little something.
“I was drilling, trying to do something original and unique,” said Lyons. “I had these balls that weren’t very bright, and I thought, ‘these are lame, I want something dope.’ Then, I found these dog toys, these ‘meteor light’ balls.” Those are the same balls he uses today.
“I started juggling in the light, and the song was ‘Bass Head’ by Bassnectar,” said Lyons with a smile. “Then, right when it dropped, all the lights got cut. I’m talking blackout. Backstage. Frontstage. And the balls light up.”
The auditorium lost it.
After high school, the time commitment proved too great for David to continue at the competitive level. But the open format of Love Jones felt right for him to keep performing.
Lyons might add some balls or even some clubs for his next Love Jones performance, but beyond his graduation, there are no definite ideas.
“I’m a mechanical engineer, so it’s not related at all,” said Lyons. “But, maybe when I’m working and it’s someone’s retirement party, I’ll juggle there. I don’t really have any plans. It’s just something I enjoy doing.”
Contact John Flynn at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (408) 554-4852.