Penn State student Chris Ruggiero is happiest when he's tossing fire far above his head. Kip Imperato, meanwhile, prefers hurling beer bottles in the air.
"It's really hard to go somewhere with a bunch of juggling torches and set them on fire," Imperato (senior-biochemistry and molecular biology) said. "There's empty beer bottles laying all over the place, and you can just grab those three objects and go. People are blown away by it -- because it's on the spot, and you're bringing the entertainment to them. I think that's the most powerful form of juggling I've seen."
Imperato and Ruggiero (senior-earth sciences) are the masterminds behind Out Of Hand Entertainment, a newly launched juggling and magic group. The duo said they hope to perform at tailgates, weddings, parties and spontaneously across campus and downtown.
"What's really interesting is that there's a huge variation we can do," Imperato said. "Cards, predictions, juggling, fire, guessing birthdays ... depending on what someone's after, we can tailor the show to their needs."
The cost of a performance also varies, Ruggiero said.
"We don't have a set price for anything, and I don't think we ever would," he said. "Whatever people could afford to give us."
The idea for the group was born this summer as an alternative to the Penn State Juggling Club, of which Ruggiero is president. He saw the new group as a way to entertain his peers and introduce them to what he considers an under-appreciated art form.
"To see it in person, to see the magic actually happen, you know there's no camera trick or anything like that involved," he said. "It brings it to the next level, where it really impresses a lot of people. It's a little bit more real, a little more hard hitting."
As his new venture takes off, Ruggiero said he hopes to lead the Juggling Club to a new level of visibility and participation this year.
"We'd like to do a lot more events around campus and get more people involved because a lot more people could benefit from what we're doing," he said.
The group is scheduled to perform at the Libraries' Open House on Sept. 18 and 19, and at Synergy, a student talent show on Sept. 28.
Joe Scholz, the former Juggling Club president, said group members hope to learn "more intense, new stuff" this year.
"The current 'big names' in the juggling community are coming up with some sick ideas and I hope we can take on that attitude of creativity," said Scholz (graduate-engineering science and mechanics). "[Juggling] is a challenging skill for sure, but intensely rewarding when you make progress. And it's a lot more enjoyable to juggle with people than by yourself. It fosters creative ideas."
Imperato, who began juggling in the summer, said he encourages both novices and veterans to get involved.
"The most important thing, from an involvement perspective, is that anybody who puts their mind to it can do it," he said. "We can market ourselves as having super powers all we want ... but any human being who is interested can apply themselves and do this."
Imperato added that he is optimistic about the success of both Out Of Hand Entertainment and the Juggling Club.
"I think it's something State College is really missing," he said. "With the amount of people rushing this town, it's like New York or any other big city. And when you go to these places, you have in-town performers. Are people looking for that type of thing? I think they might be."