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Henry juggles at the DTL

By Amelia Tarallo
Hometown Weekly Staff

Summer requires a fair amount of juggling for parents. Balancing kids, work and life in general can be a challenge.

Luckily for them, the Dover Town Library (DTL) is back with regularly-scheduled outdoor activities this summer. On Monday, July 19, parents and kids gathered on the lawn outside the Dover Town Library to watch an actual juggler - Henry the Juggler (Henry Lappen) - perform some funny and awe-inspiring stunts.

Most acts begin with an introduction from the performer, but Henry's did not. After putting on a matching black and red hat, the audience was treated to a few stunts to prepare them for the spectacle ahead.

Using a few props, Henry managed to bounce a crutch around and spin it in the air, using only two implements the size of drum sticks. Quickly transitioning to more risky stunts, Henry then managed to balance the crutch on his head. The audience watched in awe.

Often, juggling programs will have a portion in which an audience member is taught how to juggle. Henry’s performance was no different, except that he had the added challenge of not speaking. One woman pulled on stage was taught almost exclusively with laminated traffic signs rather than Henry providing her with directions aloud. Even adults in the audience couldn’t help but laugh at the confusion that followed. Bringing another adult on stage only added to the madness of the situation as the two tried to juggle balls back and forth with Henry’s silent directions.

The audience was enthralled as Henry furnished forth a menagerie of juggling materials - he flipped rings in the air, twirled pins about the sky, and skillfully manipulated traditional juggling balls.

It was especially awestruck, however, when a volunteer was handed a number of enflamed pins to attempt juggling. Library staff in the audience were surely considering the insurance policy of the DTL at that moment. Luckily, Henry took over, dazzling the crowd with his skill - and surely preventing a fire, while he was at it. 

Henry the Juggler was among many performers who spent the last year unable to perform due to COVID-19 restrictions. “I missed the work. I love doing what I do, and it’s great to be back,” explained Henry after his performance. “And it’s great that the Massachusetts Cultural Council still has funding. I thought they may not have any more money in the state, but they did, and they funded me.”

At the end of his show, Henry brought the crowd of children up to the front, then gave each one a ball to try to juggle - though the attempts were rather humorous. Rather than actually juggle, some kids just threw the ball up in the air and caught it in the same hand. Others just moved the sphere from the front to the back, twisting it around. Very few attempts could be considered Henry-level juggling, but they all represented good starts to learning how to juggle. 

Juggling is difficult. It requires a level of balance and coordination that many of us do not possess. But Henry’s performance proved that in addition to the physical skill, good juggling also requires a level good humor.

From that perspective, the audience was already half the way there.

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