SMC student Reece Jones keeps his future up in the air
Before the camera's even rolling, 18-year-old Santa Monica College student Reece Michael Jones tosses five juggling balls simultaneously into the air, continuously, with the slightest of ease.
He catches them sequentially, and looks up to the videographer expectantly. As she gives him the cue that the camera is ready, he smiles for the hundredth time, and happily restarts what he calls a "5 ball cascade."
Jones is of average height, and a happy demeanor but what really sparks attention about him is his hair. As noted by a friend of Jones', Njoki Gachoka, "this kid has big hair". He laughs at her remark, and it's clear that he receives plenty of comments about his luxurious coif.
Beneath his dirty blonde locks rests a constantly smiling face. Jones has a friendly laugh and gives off an approachable vibe, probably explaining how most of the members of the Santa Monica College Circus Club, of which Jones is now president, became members simply by approaching Jones or other jugglers and performers in the college quad.
Born on Oct. 18, 1992 in Wisconsin, Jones actually spent a recent portion of his life living in Whangrei, New Zealand and that was where he picked up his skill for juggling. Jones explains that his involvement in juggling and circus arts began entirely by "happenstance".
He took a course within the Home School Group he was a part of in New Zealand and learned the tricks of the juggling trade there. He also picked up unicycle riding, plate spinning and other activities as well.
His talent for juggling and these other skills eventually lead to the creation of a circus show in Ireland with a close friend of his. He says he and Louis Mcdonald decided, randomly, to take on the persona of Frenchmen in their show.
They dressed up in berets and other typically retro French attire, spoke in fabulous French accents and called themselves and their show "Les Plonkers." When asked how this name was chosen Jones simply says, "we were idiots being ‘French' in the first place, so we thought we'd pick a name to match."
Soon after, Jones came to Santa Monica after finishing secondary school in New Zealand to spend some time with his dad. It was by mere coincidence that he found, and ultimately befriended, a group of students equally as enthralled by the Circus as he was.
Jones says he saw people juggling in the quad as early as the third or fourth day he even stepped foot on campus and that he's been involved ever since. Now he's one of the main teachers of juggling at SMC, and has become the new President of the SMC Circus Club.
Fellow member and SMC student, Stefanie Brilliant, believes that he will do very well in his new position. She says, "even before the club started, he was here [in the quad, juggling] every day. Just hanging out, seeing who was around. He even posted about joining the club on Facebook!"
Stefanie trusts that Jones has enough passion and enthusiasm for the Circus Club for him to organize and run it smoothly.
Watching Jones juggle is an experience in itself. He manipulates both the juggling balls and the clubs with grace, even if they tumble to the floor. He is capable of controlling up to five balls and three clubs at a time.
There is obvious concentration written on his brow and expressed in his firm body language as the clubs fly through the air above him, but an immediate smile breaks out across his face anytime he falters or stops by request of the videographer.
The complexity and technicality of the different ways to toss the five juggling balls into the air quickly becomes apparent to any audience. There are times when he catches two in each hand, with one ball remaining airborne, and others where all but one ball are in the air.
This is exactly what enthuses Jones the most about his hobby. He says that most of all he "enjoys the complexity and creativity" of juggling. He likes to challenge himself with new additions to old tricks, and mentions that he's nowhere near the world record of number of balls juggled.
Jones is self-deprecating about his obvious talent, even though the surrounding students are all sneaking glances at the show.
"I'm out of practice," Jones says sheepishly. "I left the juggling balls in Oregon. I haven't had them in three weeks."
His humor is infectious, and you can't help but laugh with him as he loses control of the clubs and gets embarrassed.
With subtle determination, he begins again.