RICHMONDâCircus Smirkus, Vermontâs award-winning international youth circus, is back on the road with its 2012 Big Top Tour, celebrating a 25-year tradition of bringing joy and magic to towns all over the Northeast.
The show will stop at the Washington County Fairgrounds again this year, with performances on Sunday, July 15 at 2 and 7 p.m. and Monday, July 16 at 1 and 6 p.m. The shows in Richmond are sponsored once again by the Waldorf Meadowbrook School.
The traveling youth circus performs approximately 70 shows this summer, from the mountains of Vermont to the shores of Maine. Twenty-nine stars, ages 11 to 18, bring youthful exuberance and polished skills from all parts of the country and the world.
The show is full of aerials, acrobatics, wire-walking, juggling, trapeze, clowning, live music and an array of brilliant costumes. This yearâs tour continues the tradition of theme-based shows with a blast from the past, and fun from the future in Topsy Turvy Time Travel.
Circus Smirkus is the only American youth circus to travel âunder canvas;â that is, the only youth circus to put on a full-season tour under its own big top â a 750-seat, one-ring, European-style tent. The touring company consists of some 80 people including the performers and coaches, counselors, costumers, tech crew, tent crew, circus chefs and a live circus band. The tour caravan requires 23 support vehicles: five equipment trucks, three equipment trailers, four bunk trailers, seven pickups, three passenger vans and one âpie car,â where the meals are made. It takes eight hours to set up the big top, backstage and concession tents, and to prep and organize 200 costume pieces, 100 props, 70 spotlights and a mile of electrical cable.
ââCircus Day,â the day the circus came to town, was historically a holiday-like celebration,â said Executive Director Ed LeClair. âWe try to keep that tradition alive. Watching the show pull onto the lot, watching the tent go up, it recreates all the excitement and spectacle of âThe circus is coming!ââ Troupers are selected for skill, character and personality through an audition process that begins each fall. The show is created over the winter months. Then, in three intense weeks in early June, the troupers arrive and the show is rehearsed at Smirkus headquarters in Greensboro (pop. 772) in Vermontâs remote Northeast Kingdom. During this time, troupers work closely with coaches, a choreographer, composer and costumer. Then the circus hits the road for a seven-week tour, during which troupers learn the ropes of traditional circus life: hours of practice, full two-hour shows twice a day, and the demanding labor of loading the show in and out. In addition to circus arts, the troupers learn about teamwork and community, and give back to the larger community through free performances at childrenâs hospitals and nursing homes.
âSmirkus was an inc
redible experience for me,Â and continues to be theÂ sourceÂ of my mostÂ precious and cherishedÂ memories (and friends!),â said Joy Powers, a Smirkus âgraduateâ who went on to work for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, and now performs, with two other Smirkus alumni as The Piccolini Trio. âIt was exciting, nurturing, enveloping and breathtakingly enjoyable. I think that I can speak for mostÂ of my fellow Smirkos when I say that we will spend the rest of our lives searching for another environmentÂ like Smirkus.â
If the performances this year at Washington County Fairgrounds are anything like last yearâs, the show should be a hoot for the whole family.
For tickets and more information call 1-877-SMIRKUS toll-free or visit smirkus.org.