A One-Ring Twofer at the Big Apple Circus

The juggling LaSalle brothers, identical twins Jake and Marty, make their Big Apple Circus debut at Dulles Town Center.
The juggling LaSalle brothers, identical twins Jake and Marty, make their Big Apple Circus debut at Dulles Town Center. (Big Apple Circus)
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By Wendi Kaufman
Special to The Washington Post
Friday, September 26, 2008

Audiences will be seeing double starting this week as the Big Apple Circus pitches its tent at Dulles Town Center. That's because this year's production, "Play On," features identical twin brothers as jugglers.

The 24-year-olds from Kennett Square, Pa., mix gymnastics and juggling in a routine that will have the Big Apple's live circus band cranking out a mix of jazz, soul and rock-and-roll.

"Our act certainly integrates music and movement," explains Marty LaSalle. "This is not just one juggling trick after another. We incorporate dance moves, acrobatics and juggling to create a seamless, fast-paced performance that keeps moving."

The LaSalle brothers' career path didn't exactly lead straight to big top; they stopped along the way at Columbia University; they both graduated in May 2007. And no, they didn't major in juggling: Jake went the pre-med route, while Marty chose economics, spending a year abroad at Oxford University.

So, why with the ink not dry on their Ivy League diplomas did they run away and join the circus?

"We've always loved the circus," Marty says, "and now we get to be part of it. This is an incredible experience doing something we both love and enjoy."

Jake LaSalle remembers discovering he could juggle at age 9. "I was in an apple orchard with my mother, and I took three apples and started throwing them up in the air and that was it; I was hooked."

Jake took easily to juggling and quickly taught his brother. The boys were so enthusiastic about their newfound activity they were soon begging their parents to take them to juggling competitions and conferences. Eventually Marty and Jake met a coach who saw potential in the identical fair-haired boys and helped them launch a professional career in juggling and performance art.

The brothers have taken their juggling performance around the globe, appearing in Europe, Central America and Japan, but never as part of a circus. "It's ironic: Even though juggling is a traditional circus art, this will be the first time we're performing with a circus," Jake says.

Big Apple offers a surprisingly intimate and unchaotic experience -- for a circus, that is. With just one ring, the audience can focus on the LaSalle brothers juggling or the high-wire acts or the antics of the ever popular "Grandma" the clown, played by Barry Lubin.

And as much as the LaSalle brothers are enjoying their first time in the circus ring, they know it is finite. In July, when Big Apple Circus concludes its 11-month tour, the twins will take separate paths: Jake is applying to medical schools; Marty is interested in an advanced degree program in film or the business management side of the entertainment industry.

"This is the last year we'll be available to devote to our discipline and our art," Jake says of his Big Apple Circus experience.

But for now, when you are watching their synchronous performance, witnessing the perfect double image of Marty and Jake tossing, catching and juggling with the same precise and identical rhythms, here's a little hint: Marty is the one in red.

Big Apple Circus Dulles Town Center, routes 7 and 28, Sterling Dates: Through Oct. 13 Tickets:703-828-9014 or 888-541-3750, online at http://www.bigapplecircus.org or at the circus box office in front of the big top. Price:$18-$52

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