Most jugglers are show-offs. All they really care about is the applause, which is why they always stand front and center, ready to take their bows. Michael Moschen is an exception: juggling since he was a kid performing for quarters in front of New York City’s Metropolitan Museum, he clearly enjoys the applause but is more interested in transforming juggling from a sideshow trick into a transcendentally beautiful form of dance or kinetic sculpture. Where others are content to move from balls to apples to knives to clubs, Moschen constructs beautiful human-powered Calder-esque mobiles out of large hoops spinning on giant poles or sends balls careening around him in dazzling orbits from within a small, specially built triangular room. For a time Moschen considered another career that would allow him to manipulate balls artfully through space–pro golfing–and his love of athletics is still apparent in his tightly choreographed routines and delight in pushing his body and mind to the limit. What kept him from becoming just another white guy in plaid pants on the PGA tour was his disdain for competition, a disdain that also rules out greedily lapping up a winner’s applause. Winner of a MacArthur genius grant, Moschen takes a backseat to his art. Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State, Chicago, 312-443-1130 or 312-902-1500. Opens Tuesday, December 28, 7 PM. Through January 1: Wednesday-Thursday, 7 PM; Friday, 3 and 8 PM; Saturday, 2 and 7:30 PM. $21-$36; $16-$31 for children. –Jack Helbig

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Wayne Sorce.