Jackie Davis, volunteer extraordinaire!

give-help

With Ringmaster Residencies, Circus Smirkus joins students in the classroom with an artist-in-residency program that enlivens the classroom with the magic and joy of the circus while using the “CircusSecrets” to teach kids important life skills. These strategies are helping kids to develop their self-awareness and interpersonal relationships within the teaching framework of Social and Emotional Learning, or SEL for short. Educational researchers have shown that improvements in SEL are correlated with increased  engagement and improved performance in the classroom.

In partnership with Cirque du Soleil and the American Youth Circus Organization, we’re working on a study to demonstrate the impact of SEL. And we’re doing that right here in our hometown of Greensboro, Vermont with a year-long residency and study at Lakeview Elementary hosted by none other than the extraordinary Jackie Davis.

jackie

Jackie has been an incredible driving force in making sure that a Smirkus Residency can change kids’ lives, even over the course or a week or two. With her late husband Rick Davis, she developed the initial CircusSecrets framework and has continued to revise it, informed by the very research she has conducted in exploring the deep connections between the circus arts and SEL.

As the news gets out about our new approach to circus arts education – and its impact on students, both in and out of the classroom – we’ve been getting more and more inquiries from schools that want to both infuse their classes with the joy and wonder that the circus brings and also help their kids to develop these critical life skills. We’re hoping that by publishing the findings of this study, that we can expand the CircusSecrets throughout the region (and beyond!), benefitting Circus Smirkus for years to come.

Ringmaster Residencies have been a point of entry into the magical carousel of the circus for thousands of kids. Once seeing the wonder and feeling the joy of a space where everyone can succeed, many continue their exploration by developing their skills at Smirkus Camp. Some of these passionate kids eventually make their way to the Big Top Tour, where they reach new audiences of kids who – until then – had never dreamed of running away with the circus.

And you can bring a Ringmaster Residency program to your school, too! To learn more about the program, please email bill.merrylees@smirkus.org.

Posted in Residences | 1 Comment

The 2017 Big Top Tour Theme!

The Circus Barn is abuzz with excitement and activity – acceptance letters to Live Auditions have gone out and we want to congratulate all the talented and hard working young people who auditioned. The Big Top Tour has invited 45 applicants from across the country to join us for Live Auditions in January. An enormous HUP, HEY! to everyone who auditioned, your spirit of adventure shines through and is an inspiration to us all!

Speaking of adventure… The 30th Anniversary of the Big Top Tour will be a literal tent-full of it! This year’s show follows a group of intrepid adventurers who spend an exhilarating night inside a magical museum. Follow these Jurassic jugglers, aeronautical aerialists, courageous clowns, and wily wire walkers as they explore a sleepy museum that springs to life. Click here to watch the video reveal!  

the-2016-1

The Big Top Tour is putting the final touches on the Tour route and schedule, the creative team is brainstorming MIDNIGHT AT THE MUSEUM, auditionees are developing their individual acts for Live Auditions, and the hiring process for our incredible summer staff will begin shortly as well. Things are beginning to pick up steam and we can’t wait to explore this museum of life with you.

Stay tuned for more updates,

The Big Top Tour

Posted in Big Top Tour | 1 Comment

Reinventing Ringmaster Residencies

bementres

Students demonstrate their spinning plate skills at a final 2016 Ringmaster Residency performance.

Circus Smirkus comes into classrooms year-round to offer artist-in-residency programs that  use the circus arts to enliven the classroom, promote the arts and teach life skills to students throughout New England and beyond. While teaching circus skills, Ringmaster Residencies also introduces the “Circus Secrets,” engaging learning strategies that every child can use to improve their ability to gain new skills and concepts.

Now that the Every Student Succeeds Act has replaced No Child Left Behind, and many states are adopting the National Core Arts Standards, Circus Smirkus is adapting our curriculum to meet the needs of our changing educational culture. Circus Smirkus has recently completed work with educators and researchers to restructure residencies to better align with the requirements of this legislation.

Even better, we’re now more directly developing the Social and Emotional Learning of kids in our residencies. And we can prove it. In partnership with Cirque du Soleil and the American Youth Circus Organization, Smirkus is taking part in a nationwide study to demonstrate whether participation in the circus arts improves these social and interpersonal skills that are so critical for success in school and life.

 

Stay tuned while we continue to share developments about our participation in the study and our excitement about continuing to enhance and expand on American educational opportunities for social-emotional learning.

If you’re interested in learning about bringing a Ringmaster Residency program to your school or educational center, please email bill.merrylees@smirkus.org.

Posted in Residences | 1 Comment

The Spirit of Session V

There’s a busy week at camp and then there’s session V busy!  Everyone at camp has been putting in the sweat and love required to make not one but THREE independent shows that culminate into the Session V experience. Our Roadshow people have been hitting the road over the past week and visiting everything from nursing homes, to children’s centers, to Church Street in Burlington. Our campers have brought the joy and the magic of circus performance to so many adoring people in the community.

Another subsection of the session is the Individual acts.  A handful of campers take one on one time with their mentors to create a short solo performance in their chosen discipline.  They also take some time to come together as a group to weave together a show with group numbers to boot!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

And finally we have our Ensemble track campers.  These experienced campers choose a theme, create acts and put together a one-of-a-kind show.  They combine their excellent skills and, with the leadership of their coaches, create some amazing collaborative acts.

On the last night of every session, we finish the week in the tent with all the campers gathered together in a “happy circle of happiness.” So named because the outpouring of gratefulness for the Smirkus Camp experience move many to tears of joy.  This week, our campers were grateful for the acceptance they find here at camp, and how they can all be who they really are at camp.  It was inspiring to hear how many campers didn’t want to leave camp because they feel truly at home here.  It’s hard to put into words the atmosphere and the spirit of this session, but suffice it to say that love for each other and for the magic of circus is as abundant as air.

 

With you in Spirit,

-Aaron

Posted in Smirkus Camp | 1 Comment

Down the Road

Dear Smirkus Family and Friends,

We did it everyone! We entertained 66 audiences in 15 towns over 7 weeks. The Troupers performed their last shows in Greensboro in front of sold out crowds including our annual Joke Show on Friday. The Joke show is a tradition that gives the Troupers a chance to have some goofy moments in the ring while still putting on a great show for the folks that came. My personal favorite was the staff run-through during the club juggling act which naturally included three dogs and a faux marriage proposal.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Troupers left with their families yesterday morning after a prolonged and tearful farewell. It’s hard to say goodbye to people that you’ve spent nearly every day of the last 10 weeks with, but it’s made easier knowing that they’re going on to do great things. We had 7 seniors this year. They all have diverse interests, with some who will go on to continue studying circus or traditional studies.

I’m not sure what else do say. The tour experience is transformative. I’ve probably worked harder than I ever have before and made true friendships among my coworkers and the Troupers. I will miss them but there is a saying around here; “in the circus, we never say goodbye, we say, see you down the road.”

Take care,

Jane

Roads go ever ever on 

Under cloud and under star,

Yet feet that wandering have gone

Turn at last to home afar.

J.R.R. Tolkien – The Hobbit

Posted in Big Top Tour | 2 Comments

Three Ringed Circus Camp

We have arrived at our last session of camp, and it is a real tour de force for everyone. From the leadership team who organized and scheduled the three rings of session five: Ensemble, Individual Acts, and Roadshow, to the coaches, who serve as teachers and directors these weeks creating three unique shows. Not to mention the counselors who continue to guide the campers with their leadership and their dynamite personalities and to the campers themselves, all of whom have worked extraordinarily hard to put their acts together in Session V, and it shows!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Speaking of tour de force, Smirkus Camp saw the Big Top Tour in Montpelier this week and had a blast. At the end of the show, Artistic Director Troy Wunderle addressed the crowd to say that a majority of this year’s Troupers started out at camp. Many of the 2016 Troupers, including Jeannette Oubre, Hannah Grove, Jack Miron, Chase Levy, and Graham Reicher, were Session V campers last year. The campers got to see many of their friends perform in the Big Top Tour and enjoyed reuniting with them after the show. Similarly, while returning to Greensboro for the end of their run, the Troupers stopped by and visited camp too.

Even with the incredible level of skill everywhere at camp this session many campers are still here primarily for the camp experience. 17 year old Erika Wentz has been coming to Smirkus Camp for years and she says she comes to camp for the friends and the environment of Smirkus. And there is is plenty of camp culture to go around. From the songs that campers sing in strengthening, to the kickball games filled with base-moving silliness and sidesplitting “distraction” antics, Session V works hard and plays hard.

Camp seems to have the magical ability to meet the needs of all the campers, from those who come to build the skill to become Tour Troupers and professional performers; to those who return year after year to reconnect with their camp friends and live in the magic of Smirkus, and everyone inbetween. There is a place in the many rings of camp, and Smirkus at large, for everyone to succeed and grow. Which, I think, is the reason we all come back year after year.

IMG_4926_view.JPG

Your ring hopping blogger,

-Aaron

Posted in Smirkus Camp | 1 Comment

Back Home in Greensboro

Dear Smirkus Friends and Family,

What can I say folks? After seven weeks on the road it is good to be back home in Greensboro, Vermont. Traveling and working with a circus made this a summer like none other I’ve ever had. It’s hard work, odd and long hours, but no other job I’ve had has allowed me such a connection with my coworkers and of course the Troupers. Things are slowing down, but we’re by no means done yet!

We spent the first part of this week in Montpelier, Vermont. Montpelier is near and dear to Smirkus as we’ve been going there nearly since our founding. It’s also the home of our founder, Rob Mermin. It is evident that Montpelier feels the same way about us because they welcomed the Troupers with a parade sponsored by the local community vitality nonprofit, Montpelier Alive!

State Lawn

before parade

A bit of acro juggling warmup before the parade.

Staff and their dogs were also welcome to join in the fun. I had a great time teaching the basics of juggling to some very eager students on the State House lawn until the Troupers showed us how it was really done.

Later we had a completely improvised pie fight led by our very own Artistic Director and Boss Clown, Troy Wunderle.

We also had our annual Staff vs. Trouper kickball game. Staff emerged victorious but the Troupers put up a good fight and were good sports about it.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We have three more shows to go including our infamous Joke Show Friday evening. Tickets are still available but they are going fast. We’re not ready to say goodbye for the summer yet!

Take care,

Jane

 

Posted in Big Top Tour | 1 Comment