Alert
Close

Think you know AARP? What you don't know about us may surprise you. Discover all the 'Real Possibilities'

Contests and
Sweeps

Dream Vacation Sweepstakes

10 weeks. 10 amazing trips. Seize your chance to win!
See official rules. 

Happiness
poll

most popular
articles

Viewed

Commented

Joy of Juggling

His new career is up in the air — and he couldn't be happier

Portrait of Harry Levine, of The Flying Karamozov Brothers, with Steve Horstmann, Jeremy Perkins, and Amiel Martin juggling in the background in Layton, UT

"I soak up the energy, which sweeps over you," says Harry Levine, 54, who recently joined the Flying Karamazov Brothers. — Photo by Brad Swonetz

Harry Levine steps onto a New York City stage before 400 rapt onlookers. Wearing a kilt, Prince Charlie jacket, white shirt, and bowtie, he holds a small recorder to his mouth and plays the top half with his left hand, using his right to juggle three balls with another juggler — who is simultaneously singing and strumming a guitar himself. Meanwhile, another juggler is playing the bottom half of Levine's recorder. Much to Levine's relief, the crowd roars. "I didn't think I'd be able to do it," admits the new member of the renowned Flying Karamazov Brothers (FKB), a juggling company famous for tossing about frying pans and flaming torches like so many nerf balls.

See also: AARP The Magazine editor learns to dance.

Levine has come a long way from the Washington State orchard where he caught the juggling bug some 20 years ago, "messing around with apples" while working as a picker. Juggling became both a hobby and his "therapy." When he juggles, he says, "All other things melt away — I'm just sort of grooving." Levine turned pro in 1995, joining the Mud Bay Jugglers, an ensemble group based in Olympia, Washington. As he honed his juggling skills, Levine set his sights on performing with the Flying Karamazov Brothers. "They're silly, they're funny, they're imaginative," he says. Four years ago he auditioned for the Brothers and finished as first runner-up. "It was a real shot in the arm," says Levine. "Just to be considered a viable candidate was amazing."

Last year the FKB finally called and welcomed him to the family. Levine was given the stage name "Kuzma" (every name in the troupe comes from a character in Fyodor Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov) and a list of routines to learn. A member of a back-up team of Brothers, he hasn't yet worked a top-tier international gig, but he frequently jets to cities around the country, recorder and kilt in tow. (The kilt is part of the FKB costume. "I'm not going to say it looks good on me," he concedes.) It's a crazy life being on call, and mastering the elaborate routines demands serious discipline: That trick with the recorder (called "4 by 4") took about 50 hours of focused practice. "It just blew my mind," he says. But despite the challenges, Levine is thrilled to be working with his heroes. "If you'd told me 20 years ago that I'd be juggling with the best, I'd have said, 'No way!' But here I am, and that's cool!"

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts

Processing

Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

Discounts & Benefits

Norwegian Cruise Lines

Norwegian Cruise Line offers 5% off on select cruises, plus other special offers.

Tanger Outlets

Members receive a free Tanger Coupon Book including up to 20% discount offers.

Life insurance: you are covered rain or shine

Members can convert their assets into guaranteed income for life with AARP Lifetime Income Program from New York Life.

Member Benefits

Members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change. Join Today

Featured
Groups

5 Weeks to a New Life

How do you resolve differences in a relationship — without fighting? Share your tips in our online community and be eligible to win prizes. Discuss

The Reinvention Group

The Reinvention Group

Ask questions, find support and share information about changing gears in your 50+ years. Discuss

coffeeshop

The Coffee Shop

Kick back and enjoy lighthearted conversation among Online Community locals. Discuss