Vassar Stories

A Different Spin

A heart-pounding beat echoed loudly across campus, but from afar, the Quad looked dark and still. One might conclude that there was nothing to see—that is, until a bright flame shot up into the night sky and illuminated the faces of the crowd below. The fiery baton landed in the hands of Michael “Mooch” Mucciolo ’06, a member of A Different Spin, a professional performance troupe made up of former Vassar students.

“I didn’t want to get a normal job,” Mooch says about his decision to become a professional fire spinner after graduating. “I’d much rather do what I love for a living.” The former Barefoot Monkey gathered some friends and headed to California in pursuit of his dreams—and it did not go as well as he had hoped. Discouraged, Mooch took a year off from fire spinning before teaming up with three other Barefoot Monkey alums, Ricky Hawkins ’07, Jeremy Warren ’07, and Tim Ellis ’07, to finish what he had started. Their troupe, A Different Spin, has been performing ever since.  

Specializing in circus and fire arts entertainment, A Different Spin performs all across the country—at colleges and universities, as well as festivals and other events. Their shows feature an array of exciting acts, including fire dancing, juggling, baton twirling, acrobatics, and comedy.

Their performance at Vassar did not disappoint. The audience, even on the chilly night, was captivated, cheering loudly at every turn. “We enjoy giving an experience that prompts crowds to have a good time,” Warren says. “If the four of us had to stop performing and couldn’t be up in front of people, we would be very sad human beings.”

Warren recalled being at a bonfire held on the final week of his senior year, and thinking, “This is going to be the last time I ever get to do this.” He says it was “a heartbreaking thought.” Thanks to his career with A Different Spin, the adventure continues.

To learn more about A Different Spin or to book a show or workshop, visit, email, or call 914-482-1958.

—Alexa Levine ’15

Posted Monday, December 16, 2013