Most people are familiar with toss juggling. Maybe they’ve even attempted it themselves, taking three balls and trying to keep them in motion, or maybe they’ve seen something a little more spectacular like a juggler tossing knives, fire torches, or chainsaws. But the most spectacular juggling actually occurs when the juggler never loses contact with their props—that is, when they’re contact juggling. Though a centuries-old practice, it was brought to prominence by Michael Moschen with his performance of “Light” in the ’80s.
As the video shows, he’s capable of palm-spinning up to eight crystal balls simultaneously, as well as making a single ball appear to float over his hands and arms. This act was met with much praise from the international circus community, eventually earning him a MacArthur Fellow Genius Grant in 1990. Prior to that, it also landed him a gig with David Bowie in 1986’s Labyrinth. As Jareth The Goblin King, Bowie is seen speaking to Jennifer Connelly’s character, taunting her with a crystal ball that he slides effortlessly around his hands.
That is in fact Moschen, who stood behind Bowie during filming, reaching around and performing tricks without being able to see what he was doing. In a behind-the-scenes video, Jim Henson explains that what Moschen does “is as close to real magic as anything I really know,” which made him the perfect person to give Jareth a “certain kind of magical powers.”
The rest of Moschen’s work is just as mesmerizing, and a great way to get lost in the internet.