Obie Makes It In the World of Juggling

Oberlin Review

FEBRUARY 9, 1996


Up in the air: Cindy Marvell with her traveling juggling troupe, Lazer Vaudeville (photo courtesy of Cindy Marvell)

By Catherine Tarpley

Although her Oberlin classmates said she could never do it, Cindy Marvell, OC 88 is making a living out of juggling. She has been traveling and performing for eight years, and for the past few years has been a member of Lazer Vaudeville, a Florida-based company that is reviving vaudeville.

With only three performers in the company, the members handle the technical aspects of their performances. It takes them six hours to set up their equipment. They run their own sound and do their own lifting, jobs people have told Marvell that they couldnt do themselves. Most of the companys time together is spent on the road, not on the stage. Last year the group traveled 30,000 miles in a nine-month period, each of them taking turns to drive their truck.

Despite the stress and physical demands such a lifestyle imposes, Marvell doesnt mind: juggling has been her passion since the age of 12. Marvell started juggling in high school, but her enrollment at Oberlin only marked the beginning of a more intense juggling schedule than the one she had maintained during high school. She began practicing her juggling at least two hours everyday.

Oberlin provided Marvell with public forums for displaying her talent. She performed at Mayfair and juggled to spoken poetry for one of her Winter Term projects. Juggling to poetry inspired Marvell to want to write her own poetry to juggle to, so she did.

Though some might think that graduating requires abandoning true passion and finding a job with some stability, Marvell has proven that wrong. She has never held a job that wasnt juggling based.

But, said Marvell, persistence is required if one wants to find juggling work in the postgraduate world. To get jobs, Marvell said that jugglers must be willing to promote themselves avidly.

Marvell has always enjoyed traveling, and juggling is taking her everywhere. She had three different jobs in San Fransisco, including one at an amusement park. Also, Lazer Vaudeville travels all over the U.S. and Canada. This summer they will tour parts of Asia.

Marvell particularly enjoys street performance because, she said, it increases her spontaneity and helps her deal with difficult life situations when they arise.

Another aspect of juggling that Marvell finds attractive is that it allows her to be creative. Though “Juggling is a physical talent,” through performance Marvell has found an outlet for her creativity. Such a talent, Marvell said, must never be wasted.

While she was at Oberlin, classmates told Marvell that she could not juggle for a career. She said that many of her classmates gave up their dreams within a year of graduating to pursue more conventional professions.

Despite a “tough” first year, Marvell has found success in an unlikely arena. Now in her second year with Lazer Vaudeville, she is also one of the only women to find employment with the group.