Arsene was talking about the harmonic convergence. "Yes," he said in delightfully French-accented English, "I's a time when the Aztec calendar ennz and a better time beegins, or some-sing like dat."
It seemed that people were getting together all over the world to share their energies in the cause of better human relations. Hmmm, I thought. Sounds a lot like the IJA convention I just attended!
The week recently spent in the presence of fellow jugglers in Akron represented the best of the human spirit. Anywhere such people of common bond gather to share is a harmonic convergence of sorts. Joy and creativity marked just about every encounter on the gym floor, in the dining room, in dorms and in show places of our 40th Anniversary Convention site.
As usual, Arsene was in the middle of it all. Passing clubs, showing magic tricks, demonstrating his boomerang rubber band shot and generally unleashing a personal magnetism that always attracts a crowd.
Odd to think he was once a professional motorcycle racer in France. He quit that career following an accident and traveled at a more sedate pace on two wheels from New York to Alaska. On the return trip he met a juggler in San Francisco and found his calling in the camaraderie of Golden Gate Park's Sunday afternoon sessions.
He returned to France to begin a clowning career. He turned to street shows and met Paul Burke (Waldo), finding in him a perfect foil and passing partner. They came together to the IJA convention in Cleveland in 1981 and Arsene hasn't missed one since.
The two went their separate ways amicably after a three-year partnership. Arsene has now settled into a comfortable life on the renaissance fair circuit, entertaining rapt crowds for up to 45 minutes without saying a word.
Creativity seems to flow from his pores in a heavy sweat. "Even in the worst situation you can find something to do," he said. He can take a mundane object and make you laugh at it in a hundred ways. As he stood backstage prior to our "Old & New Vaudeville" show, his assignment was to serve as foil to Robert Nelson, the ever acerbic Butterfly Man.
Arsene said he felt in his pockets, always full of tricks, and fingered the rubber bands he had been boomerang-shooting off the floor all day. "Then I remembered this Quasimodo character I always liked. Didn't you see the Notre Dame film, too?" Arsene asked. Without a worry in the world of failure, he twisted the rubber bands around his nose, lips and ears. With pillows stuffed under the coat of his shoulder, a nasty limp and guttural one line script, he walked on stage and shone like the sun in his role.
One is fortunate to be at a convergence where such talent is the fare! We who can't do it worship in awe from the seats, or behind a camera lens.
I asked Arsene about the secret of such profound ability. The secret, he says, is no secret at all. He said, "The philosophy of performance, I think, is love. It's a sharing thing between audience and performer. You give what you are and the people feel that. If you work on yourself, your inner self, people will feel that outside you."
It seems, then, that the secret of harmonic convergence is no date on an Aztec calendar at all. Arsene called it for us, for all the Juggler's World to hear: LOVE.