Circus Smirkus.......The Show Goes On!!!!
By John Gales
Smirkus Still Here, Creating Magic Virtually
A summer full of circus and new programs are continuing this year, despite the inability to attend in person. Based in Greensboro, VT, and founded in 1987, Circus Smirkus has made it its mission to offer a virtual experience through Smirk-o-Vision, an entertainment series that allows the viewer to enjoy six events including a Season Premiere, Directors’ Commentary, Behind the Music, Beyond the Pie with Circus Chefs, Backstage at HQ, and the Grand Finale.
Online visitors can also take summer camp for a spin in two virtual camp sessions geared toward young campers, ages 5 to 11, trying out Smirkling Camp or the circus arts for the first time. It’s an experience Smirkus style with friends Mama Bear (Camp Director William Forchion), Head Coach Doug Stewart, and Assistant Camp Director Amira Silverman.
Once registered at the Virtual Smirkling Camp@Home (June 13&14) and the Virtual Intro to Smirkus@Home (June 20), participants will receive a camp package with a camp t-shirt, camp journal, popcorn and a move for movie night, juggling scarves, a spinning plate, and juggling balls.
Classes will continue and are lined up for June with new instructors including long-time tour coaches Jon Roitman (diabolo and juggling) and Rebecca Starr (bandstands and contortion) plus special guest instructor Mark Gindick, known for his work with Big Apple Circus, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus and Cirque du Soleil. Class highlights include magic, hula hooping, conditioning, club juggling, ball juggling and clowning.
A special four-week workshop in which participants can devise material and learn the nitty gritty technique of building a funny show is being offered on June 10, June 17, June 24, and July 1. Focus is on building bits, investigating inspiration and structure, and fine tuning the funny. At the end, you’ll have a brand new piece to perform, personally coached by Mark Gindick of Cirque du Soleil, Ringling and Big Apple Circus.
For those eight and over, a beginner’s ball juggling class with tour coach Jon Roitman is a chance to learn the drills that eventually lead to a successful three-ball juggling pattern. Offered June 8, June 15, June 22 and June 29.
A summer mentorship program with Doug Stewart will be offered June 9, June 16, June 23, and June 30. Students and mentors will work together to define goals and establish training routines and exercises. Whether you want to increase strength training for aerials or improve your juggling skills, Doug will work on your personalized workout plans and make you accountable. The class is limited to five people only.
Intermediate and Advanced Contortion with Rebecca Starr is for those interested in a fundamental strength and technique class that will be focused on advanced stretching exercises for back bends and splits, and move into contortion styles poses that may include forearm stands, handstands, chest stands, bridge variations, and bendy acrobatics. Session dates include June 11, June 18, June 25, and July 2.
Beginner Diabolo with Jon Roitman (ages 8+) is for participants who want to learn a variety of tricks with the diabolo, starting from the basics of how to start and keep it spinning on the string, then moving to throwing and catching it back on the string, and finally to moves such as “whip propulsion”, “trapeze”, “around the leg”, and more. Session dates are June 10, June 17, June 24, and July 1.
At Home Residency with Josh Shack comes as a package for $100 that includes an at-home residency kit plus five online classes. The five-day session includes classes in clowning, feather balancing, spinning plates, flower sticks and scarf juggling. Daily session dates are June 15-19 at 2 p.m.
Season passes can be purchased for $90 which enables participants to access all six events, each of which can also be bought a la carte for $15-$18. A Smirkus Joy T-Shirt can also be ordered online.
Circus Smirkus is a nonprofit arts and education organization whose mission is to promote the skills, culture and traditions of the traveling circus, and to inspire youth to engage in life-changing adventures in the circus arts. Its founder is Rob Mermin who established Smirkus on a 38-acre parcel in Vermont’s northeast kingdom. The property’s 150-year-old farmhouse is still home for 11 permanent year-round staff. The headquarters consists of the adjoining Circus Barn, the former horse stable and loft where it all started.
More information on Circus Smirkus 2020 can be found at www.smirkus.org