How many times have you seen someone spin a ball on the forefinger of each hand, toss them up slightly, pirouette and catch them still spinning on the fingers again!
That difficult move is in the exciting repertoire of Michael Chirrick, who opened Jan. 9 for a six month run at Resorts Hotel-Casino in Atlantic City, N.J. The 34-year-old son of Lotte Brunn and Ted Chirrick has entertained audiences world-wide in a 16 year career.
He admits that the styles of his mother and uncle, Francis Brunn, have influenced his own. "But I do my own thing," Chirrick said. He works almost exclusively with volleyballs, performing many spinning tricks, body rolls and juggles. "I don't think I could juggle three lacrosse balls," he joked. "Volleyballs interested me from the beginning and I stuck with them."
He combines ball tricks with mouthstick manipulations in many creative and difficult ways. He does a slow backward roll-over while spinning a ball on both forefingers and a third on the tip of a mouth stick. He holds a single ball between his heels and a mouthstick in his mouth, does a back handspring to toss the ball up in the air and catches it on the stick.
His ball juggling includes bouncing a ball on his head while juggling four. The bounced ball is then added to the pattern for a five ball cascade. His "photo trick," as he describes it, combines a ball spun on his right forefinger, two rings twirled on his right upper arm, one on his right ankle, one on his right thigh and three rings juggled with the left hand.
But he views his crowning technical achievement as a trick he has seen no one else but Francis Brunn perform. While spinning a ball on a forefinger, he rests another on the nape of his neck behind his head. He rolls that ball down his back, kicks it with his heel and catches it on the spinning ball so that both spin. "It's completely blind," he explained. "You have to make the kick by feel, and don't see the ball coming over your shoulder until last instant. To catch it on the spinning ball, it has to be right there."
Chirrick began training with his mother and uncle in high school. After graduation, he career began with Harlem Globetrotter halftime shows in 1970. It was a grand beginning, encompassing two world tours, two United States tours and three European tours. Since then, he has participated in the International Circus Festival in Monte Carlo and worked in hotels and clubs in Reno, Las Vegas and other places worldwide.
His main artistic drive now focuses on presentation of his act rather than learning new tricks. "I've got the tricks I want," he said. "But I'm always trying to change my presentation, to find different ways to present the material."
Feb. 28 Flynn Theater, Burlington, Vt. March 18 - April 12 George St. Playhouse, New Brunswick, N.J. April 5 Aquinas Hall Theatre, Newburgh, N.Y.
March 15 Southern Coll., Collegedale, Tenn. March 17 Michigan Theatre, Ann Arbor March 18 River Center, Davenport, Iowa March 19 Center East, Skokie, Ill. March 20-22 Midland Arts Center, Midland, Mich. March 23 Roy Thompson Hall, Toronto, Ontario March 27 Island Center, St. Croix, Virgin Islands March 28 Reichold Center, St. Thomas March 31 McCarter Theatre, Princeton, N.J. April 1 Lowell, Mass. April 2 Schenectady, N.Y. April 3 Palace Center, Jamestown, N.Y. April 4 Wadsworth Aud., Geneseo, N.Y. April 5 Somersett Coll., Somerville, N.J. April 6 Strand Theatre. Lakewood, N.J. May 8-July 5 Lincoln Center, New York City
Feb. 16-22 NACA National Convention, Nashville, Tenn. Feb. 24-28 Columbus, Ohio March 2-7 Kentucky & Indiana comedy clubs April 20 Manhattan, Kan. April 21 Lawrence, Kan. April 22-26 Columbia, Mo., Jugglefest '87