By Dominique Jando
Jefferson Freire de Almeida was born September 27, 1990, in São Paulo, Brazil. His parents were José Josilvado de Almeida and Eula Da Silva Freire, and he had two sisters, Thais and Thalita. His parents had no relation whatsoever with show business, but both had studied music and played musical instruments; they imagined a musical career for their son.
However, Jefferson’s parents separated when he was still a kid. Jefferson was raised by his mother, Eula. He was fourfteen in 2005 when he began learning juggling techniques from a Brazilian street performer, Anderson Perreira da Silva, whom he had known for a long time and was to become known in juggling circles as one of the best jugglers in the country. At first, Jefferson learned just for fun, but he quickly caught the juggling bug, and began training incessantly. Rain or shine, at home or at school, Jefferson and his clubs were inseparable.
His mother was poor, and Jefferson decided he had to help her by taking advantage of his newly acquired skills: He went on to juggling on street corners making a living by passing the hat. In doing so, he also took comfort in the belief that, one day, he would become a true professional juggler and a circus artist—and this dream kept him going. For the time being, he was gaining performing experience.
Soon, he found engagements in small circuses. His technique was improving constantly, and his natural charisma led him to work in 2008 with Circo Tapias Voadores, a circus company based in Diadema, in the province of São Paulo, where he was also asked to teach juggling to the students of their newly created circus school. Being finally recognized as a bona-fide juggler, he began to work increasingly for special and corporate events, as well as for other Brazilian circuses, among which Circo di Napoli and Circo Montreal.
In 2012, he joined Circo Universo Casuo, one of Brazil’s most prestigious circus companies, created by the clown Marcos Casuo, a former featured performer of Cirque du Soleil's Alegria, who taught Jefferson how to perform for an audience, and become a true circus artist. With Circo Universo, he performed internationally in Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Colombia.
In 2013, Jefferson Freire enrolled in the Braapa Escola de Atores, a well-known acting school in São Paulo, where he graduated as an actor. Additionally, the taste for music his parents had instilled in him had grown, and this led him to study violin in various music schools before joining the Conservatório Musical São Caetano, in São Paulo in 2014. He soon added his musical skills to his act.
Jefferson came to the United States in 2017 to participate in the 13th Juggling Convention of the World Juggling Federation (WJF), the world’s largest gathering of jugglers—amateurs and professionals alike. He was only the second Brazilian juggler to ever attend this event. In the international competition that followed the convention, he ranked fourth, which is quite an achievement considering his youth and the high level of the competition.
Then, Jefferson Freire decided to settle in the United States and moved to San Francisco, California. He has since performed extensively on the West Coast (Seattle’s Moisture Festival, Circus Bella among other venues, and special events) and has participated in several Juggling Festivals. In 2020, he became a permanent company member at Circus Bella. He also improved his music skills, learning jazz and Gipsy violin with such teachers as Tregar Otton and Scott Feichter.
Although his juggling skills have already reached a high level, he continues to improve them, for which he takes his inspiration from such juggling legends as Enrico Rastelli, Alksander Kiss, Francis Brunn and Anthony Gatto.
- Video: Jefferson Freire, juggling act, at the Portland Juggling Festival (2019)