Passengers On The Bus, by Dave Gillies
All of my fifth grade students learned to juggle. Many were so inspired and talented that they quickly exceeded their teacher in technical virtuosity. I was very proud of them. Some discovered a love for performing. A few, such as David Cousin, went on to successful careers as entertainers after a period of apprenticeship with Give & Take.
Being a teacher is not like being a gardener: you don’t always know how those seeds are going to grow, or if they do, if it’s because of what you did. Nevertheless, my young prodigies and I were soon joined by other talented and aspiring performers.
Erica Saben, The Epiphany
The Academy of Music, The Opera Company of Philadelphia’s 2007 season, the festive opening scene of Verdi’s Rigoletto: counts and countesses, dancers and jugglers… juggler is impressed by dancer, dancer joins Give & Take.
In preparation for this epiphany, Erica studied dance and theater for two years at Fredonia State University in New York near her native Buffalo (she is a Sabers fan, sorry about that), danced with Sankofa African Dance and Drum Ensemble while studying at SUNY Brockport, and attended Edna Manley College in Kingston, Jamaica on a full performance-based scholarship. (You can ask about her recipe for ackee.)
Erica was graduated cum laude from SUNY Brockport with a BS in Dance and Political Science, and received the Political Science Outstanding Student Award as well as the All American Scholar Award.
In addition to her work with Give & Take, Erica currently performs with Samba Productions and The Bistro Romano Dinner Theater. She recently choreographed an impressive solo piece for the Influx Dance Series. Look for her in the background of your favorite Bollywood film.
Kiva Ford, Out Of The Woods
Kiva was raised on a small sheep farm just outside of Milford, New Jersey. He enjoyed the team sports of soccer and baseball, but living a mile from the nearest road, he spent a lot formative time outside, and in the woods finding wild mushrooms, especially that finest of edible fungi, the elusive morel.
Kiva has been a friend of Devin Bird since the 2nd grade. Devin introduced him to juggling in 1999 and he has been hooked ever since, learning the ins and outs of performing with Give & Take and their associates and alumni.
After graduating from Salem Community College with a degree in Scientific Glass Technology, Kiva was invited to work for a major pharmaceutical company in the custom glass shop, where his main responsibilities are fabricating custom glassware for Research and Discovery Chemistry. He also enjoys working in his personal glass shop and creating artistic glass sculptures and goblets.
In addition to performing with Give & Take and glassblowing, Kiva likes playing the bass guitar, listening to rock and roll music, being with friends, and enjoying everyday.
Kiva admires Homer Simpson, Groucho Marx, Arthur Rimbaud, and the world-renowned master of lampworked glass, Cesare Toffolo.
John W. O’Brien
John joined Give & Take as an apprentice in 1990 while being home-schooled. Several years later he said to Dave, “We should get a website,” to which Dave countered, “What’s a website? We just got a fax machine!” Thinking he was merely indulging this up-and-coming computer geek, Dave acquiesced, “jugglers.com? Oh, sure. Why not?”
In the fall of 2002, John went on extended hiatus to attend the University of Colorado at Boulder. Six years later he finally returned from the foothills of the Rockies having earned a Bachelor of Science degree summa cum laude in Electrical and Computer Engineering (2006), and a Master of Science degree in Electrical Engineering (2008). Among his accomplishments: being selected for a 2005 NIST SURF internship where he worked on the atomic clock; and receiving a graduate research fellowship from Rohm and Haas Electronic Materials—now Nuvotronics—for electromagnetic design and development of microfabricated radio frequency systems (Si Pak and PolyStrata).
John then took a position with an aerospace company as a Communications Systems Engineer to design computer networks for satellites. In early 2013, John moved on to the latest chapter upon accepting a job at the University of Pennsylvania, in the Network Engineering, Research, and Development group, which has a very appropriate acronym.
When he isn’t tinkering with computers and electronics, John loves to take pictures and fly airplanes.
Devin Bird, A Different Drummer
As a young boy he saw Give & Take performing at the Mercer Museum Fair in Doylestown and soon became an apprentice with the company as part of his home schooling. In addition to juggling and riding the unicycle, he sings, writes songs, and plays drums and hammered dulcimer. He is skilled as a blacksmith, and does specialized metal and woodworking for the Smithsonian Institute. His atelier/salon in Bucks County is a favorite haunt of musicians and artists.
Devin is a dual citizen of both the United States and Great Britain and he has lived in five different countries. His secondary education was obtained in Europe studying at Le Petit College d’Art in Lyon, France, Design Academy Eindhoven in Holland, and University of the Arts in London. He loves boats, puns and being impulsive. He admires Buster Keaton and Bill Irwin.
Juggler David Cousin is a holder of 5 world records in juggling. He has performed professionally for both children and adults since 1980. The formerly Philadelphia based juggler relocated to California, performing both locally and internationally. His comedy juggling show consists of audience involvement, interaction, and music.
As a member of the Give & Take Jugglers David opened for John “Cougar” Mellencamp on concert tour, performed with the Philadelphia Orchestra in their children’s concerts and for the Philadelphia Flyers’ holiday parties.
He was featured in a national television special with Dick Clark and on Evening Magazine. He has appeared in a commercial for Showboat Hotel and Casino and made several television news channel appearances.
Since being inspired by a magic set at age nine, Keith, of The Keith Show!, has had an interest in learning cool tricks and funny stunts. A few years later, after learning to juggle, he added useless skills to his repertoire. In 1982, at the age of 15, he was first paid to perform for a birthday party. People were delighted. Keith was amazed, thinking, “My skills now have a purpose!” Keith began street performing at Philadelphia’s Newmarket while still in high school. He performed with a partner as a member of the Give & Take Jugglers at a wide array of malls, colleges, and high schools, while continuing to perform solo at parties. He continued to squeeze a few street performances in at Harvard Square while studying theater at Emerson College in Boston. After honing his chops with two to three performances every night for four months at the famous Key West sunset celebration, Keith moved west. Based in San Francisco since 1990, he has continued to sharpen his skills by performing from street to stage. Keith has had the opportunity to study with some of the world’s top performers by attending workshops and seminars in juggling, circus related skills, movement, comedy writing, and overall performance. Even with twenty years experience in engaging audiences, The Keith Show is an ongoing work and is constantly improving.
Thien and I met on the street in Philadelphia on July 4, 1976. We worked together busking at NewMarket for three years, learning a great deal from the experience and from each other. Phuc (pronounced “Foo”) is currently doing the cruise ship circuit and raising a family in Daytona Beach FL.
Fifth grade student Stephan McMenamin excelled at club passing and after fifteen years discovered what it was that I liked about Bob Dylan.
Tommy apprenticed with us while getting through Abington Jr and Sr HS. Now managing a cheese shop in Grand Central Station NYC and bringing up son Oliver.
Another one of the fifth grade prodigies. Joel performed with the company for several years, then left to find more excitement jumping out of airplanes in defense of our country.
Matt of Doylestown, expertly coached by Elsa, did many shows with us while at Central Bucks West.