Mountain Motion: All the right moves

Gary Linehan, The Union Democrat /

Emotem Productions will present the Mountain Motion Performance Team, featuring a combination of juggling, comedy, theater and dance, from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Sonora Opera Hall.

Doors will open at 5 p.m. Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for children 12 and under, available at the door.

The three performers and co-founders of Emotem Productions - Erin Stephens, Kevin Axtell and Jeremiah Johnston - all grew up in the small community of Murphys in the Sierra Nevada foothills.

Stephens was the first among them to pick up the skill of juggling at the young age of 11. She quickly progressed in ability and began performing at 15.

Fast forward to her senior year at Bret Harte High School, where Erin became friends with Kevin Axtell, who learned to juggle in her back yard. Practicing ceaselessly and utilizing online videos to master new tricks, Axtell quickly became an avid juggler.

Stephens then left for college at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Enter Jeremiah Johnston. Having learned to juggle in middle school, it wasn't until his college years at Humboldt State University that he fully dove into the art form.

At this time Axtell was a regular "special guest" at the Humboldt State University Juggling Festival, performing and teaching workshops to the attendees.

Johnston found enormous inspiration in Axtell's juggling style, and they soon began working together on intermittent projects such as educational DVDs and festivals.

Stephens also came to know Johnston through being a guest performer at the HSU Festival, and found it rather ironic that he too had grown up in her home town and graduated from the same high school.

​Having each gone their own direction and becoming highly skilled and respected performers in the juggling community, the three came to recognize their coincindental history as a fateful sign.

They began discussing a common vision to unite in their home community and form a performance and empowerment company.

They have now returned to their mountain home to make this vision a reality.

As a female, Erin Stephens is a rarity in the professional juggling world. Having learned to juggle at the age of 11, she has gone on to captivate international audiences with the flare and dynamic skill she brings to the stage.

She is a two-time bronze medalist of the World Juggling Federation Championships; a juggler and choreographer for the acclaimed Salt Fire Circus; co-founder of YEP, a nationwide juggling education program; and a certified firewalking instructor.

Stephens has lived an inspiring life of overcoming obstacles to achieve her dreams. She now utilizes her personal story and insite to empower others to do the same.

Kevin Axtell has been a professional entertainer for 10 years now as both director and performer for the fire dancing and juggling team Mountain Mischief.

He is also a firewalking instructors and has led thousands of people across the coals.

Axtell said his mission in life is empowerment, excitement and transformation.

Jeremiah Johnston said he has been influenced throughout his life by art, dance and adventure and strives to live a life of excitement and expression.

Surrounded by an eclectic group of aspiring circus performers in his early college years, his passion for juggling was ignited. Over the years, his talents and innovative style have progressed rapidly.

Having worked with several performance troupes at events and gatherings across the country, Johnston now shares the magic of juggling and flow arts with the world as a performer, instructor and co-founder of Emotem Productions, whose mission is to entertain, inspire and educate audiences around the world through dynamic performance and presentation.

For more information, visit www.emotemproductions.com .

11899054
The Union Democrat
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