Ian Elsner puts safety first: No fire indoors, and new members are not allowed to play with knives.
Elsner is the president of Objects in Motion, the official UF juggling club. The club will hold its first solo performance, “Objects in Motion Live! and in 3D” Saturday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. in the Reitz Union Grand Ballroom.
“As a club we’ve wanted to do a showcase for a long time,” Elsner said. “Seniors will be able to do solos, and it will let new members get a taste of performance.”
Objects in Motion has more than 50 active members, with an average of 30 participants at each activity, he said.
The club meets every Wednesday at 9 p.m. and represents all types of juggling.
Contact jugglers balance an acrylic ball on their bodies and allow it to roll across their arms, shoulders and hands.
Poi spinners twirl sticks with small weights tied to them with colorful string or ribbon. Jugglers toss clubs and balls alone or in groups.
Outside of practice, members often get together to juggle on the Plaza of the Americas.
The jugglers try to draw in bystanders with what they call “the free juggling lesson” — guaranteed success or your money back.
Elsner said 90 percent of the people he approaches tell him that they have below average coordination, which, as a statistics major, he is quick to point out is a mathematic impossibility.
“You’re human, so you’re actually pretty good at this intuitively,” he said. “All we have to do is spend about half an hour with you to teach you the method.”
Andi Clinton, a biology junior, was one of those unsure bystanders less than three years ago. Despite a bit of stage fright, she now performs regularly with Objects in Motion and can juggle, spin poi and ride a unicycle.
“I think what is most important about our club is that it’s really chill, and that anyone can do it,” she said. “I ride a unicycle and I trip over my own feet sometimes.”
While juggling may not be as difficult as it seems, when it comes to juggling knives or fire, club members act with added precaution.
Fire juggling is never done on campus. Instead, the jugglers meet at a member’s house, where the lawn and trees have been hosed down.
Elsner is sure to keep emergency supplies of water and fire blankets, and the lighter fluid is stored away from the jugglers.
Juggling knives are also weighted, and are designed to look real. They look and sound dangerous, but are otherwise harmless.
Elsner is happy to say that, due to planning and attentiveness, no one has ever been injured during a meeting, practice or performance.
Both Elsner and Clinton have made juggling a part of their lives and look forward to continue their passion after college.
“Once it clicks, once you sort of get into the rhythm, it feels amazing,” Elsner said. “It’s not only one instance; it’s a constant recalibration of your throws. You’re sort of feeling the way that the balls are moving and it’s an extension of something that goes on for a while, like a conversation.”