The Flying Karamazov Brothers have been around for over 30 years, and yet I have never seen them perform. It’s not to say I haven’t wanted to see them; it just never worked out. I’m positively fascinated by juggling because it’s one of those things I have always wanted to be able to do, but never have been able to master. I am intrigued by one’s ability to not only juggle, but moreover, to master the art of juggling unlike objects.
It was with this hope, of gaining insight as to how to learn to juggle, that Max, my 14-year-old son, his two friends, Paige and George, and I attended the preshow event in the Kimberly Clark Theater. Too timid to try with the juggling balls they had set to the side for practice, two talented local jugglers shared onstage their tips for learning how to juggle with the packed-in crowd whom I’m sure, like us, were hoping to find a little latent talent hidden inside ourselves. Tucking away the information for future reference should we need it, we moved on to the Thrivent Hall to watch The Flying Karamazov Brothers perform their magic.
The Flying Karamazov Brothers derive their name from the famous Dostoevsky novel, but are not Russian, are brothers only in name, and they do not fly. They are, however, an amazingly talented troupe of comedic jugglers who, with their decidedly un-glitzy stage set of packing boxes, allowed the four of us and the crowd to be positively mesmerized as they juggled practically anything and everything. From an assembled pile of possibilities donated by the audience, they juggled butter, a violin, and a bar of slippery wet soap. If we thought that was impressive, the final act of juggling the nine objects of “Terror” assembled throughout their show made us realize that their talent is in a league of its own.
Intermixed with their juggling feats they also sang, danced (ballet in tutus, nonetheless), performed taiko-like drumming on cardboard boxes, “drummed” with a juggling pin while it was in motion, and, while standing in a line, blew into their musical instrument of choice with the one next to them doing the fingering as the two end members juggled between themselves. Clearly, their talent extends well beyond just juggling.
What I love most about The Flying Karamazov Brothers is not only the humor and intense talent they possess, but the larger message they share. They describe their art as a “flirtation with failure” and demonstrate that nothing is impossible. People can work together in harmony and if one should fail, or drop something, that it’s easy enough to pick things back up, to get back in sync, and to still find the humor in the process. This morning as the four of us stood in the kitchen in our own “flirtation with failure,” we tried not to focus on the drops, but rather, in keeping with The Flying Karamazov Brothers, with a smile on our face.