Dear Smirkus Friends and Family,
As Opening Day closes in on us (2 days left!), I would like to take this time to talk about the importance of nutrition and health and how we emphasize this to Troupers and the whole crew. We are fed incredibly well, my mantra everyday has been, “I’ve never eaten this well, nor will I ever again,” and that has quite a bit to do with our amazing Pie Boss, Chef Andrew Levy and cooks Sarah Hartman, John Shaw and Maddie Pryor, a special thanks to them for cooking delicious and healthy meals!
Moreover, our talented and brilliant aerial coach, Alisan Funk, has taken this to the next level with our Troupers, who at the core of it all are athletes of the highest caliber that must fuel and care for their bodies much more stringently than the average bear. Every evening we have council with the Troupers where they can air concerns, share inspiring moments and wins, and get feedback from Artistic Director, Troy Wunderle and Creative Director, Jesse Dryden. Alisan also takes this time to go over a “muscle of the day” and nutrition education.
Alisan, a Keene, NH, native and daughter to a surgeon has always had a fascination for the human body and how it works. “I started pestering him around the age of seven to teach me about the body and for bedtime stories I would ask him to name all of the bones in the body.”
After growing up on a farm in New Hampshire, Alisan attended Barnard College in New York City to study dance, but graduated pre-med. While in college she discovered circus, fell madly in love with it and hasn’t looked back since. With a thriving career as an independently contracted circus coach in her current hometown of Montreal, Canada, as well as being a fully certified Pilates instructor, Alisan is truly an asset to the Smirkus Team. In addition, she is pursuing a Masters in Circus arts! A true professional who has taken the craft of circus performance to a level that was unfathomable several years ago.
With this arsenal of knowledge, experience and talent she knows the importance of learning how the body works in the circus profession. “I am fascinated by how the brain and body interact. In the circus, not getting a trick or an injury can be very emotional, but if they can break it down into components of how the bicep, for example, moves the arm and how it is not moving the way it is needed, it can give a sort of emotional reprieve.” She not only teaches the Troupers where muscles are and how they move our body, but how nutrition fuels the body and the significance of what we eat. “I never tell them what to eat, but why we need carbs and proteins and how they create the energy needed for the body. That way they can make the right decisions individually. I want them to be excited to eat what’s good for them, but also eat enough and not deny themselves.”
In addition to her circus coaching career, two seasons at Circus Smirkus Camp, nine seasons with the Circus Smirkus Big Top Tour, Pre-Med degree, and pursual of a Masters in Circus Arts, Alisan’s pilates training also gives her a dual perspective here. “I mostly work with clients that have had an injury or back pain. For me it is just as amazing to help someone move with ease after years of pain as it is to achieve a difficult trick in a circus discipline.”
Personally, I can attest to Alisan’s miracle working. About ten days ago, I strained my shoulder, don’t worry it wasn’t circus related, but actually while painting a sign (ha). I was in such excruciating pain I thought I had torn something and that I may have to go home. Alisan used her training and knowledge of the body to breakdown exactly what was going on and taught me stretches to do everyday. This was something that would have taken months to heal for me in my normal environment and less than a week later I was right as rain, not to mention her explanation of what my muscles were doing quelled my anxiety, because I knew exactly what my body was going through. So I would like to thank you so much, Alisan, for fixing me!
This year on the 2015 Circus Smirkus Big Top Tour, Bon Appétit!, Alisan has co-written the Chandelier act and written the Trapeze and Hammock acts, which are all mind-blowing! But, of course, you will have to join us under the Big Top to see her creativity and coaching in motion!
Hoping to see you there,
“You can’t fall if you don’t climb, but there’s no joy in living your whole life on the ground”