The Art of Clowning

At Smirkus Camp, aerials, juggling and acrobatics always translate well to photography and video. We can see the beautiful skills unfold with strength and flexibility. There’s another artform taught at Smirkus Camp that is harder to show in photos and produces a unique magic with real time audience participation: The Art of Clowning! Don’t be fooled, the physical comedy in clowning also takes strength and flexibility to achieve. Clowning requires a sensitivity to emotion and an ability to produce timely reactions that connects to the audience through laughter, empathy, and sometimes a touch of sadness.


Using expressive body language in clown class!

You can find Smirkus Camp’s Clown Alley in Ruby, our performance tent. This is where our coaches Sam, Molly, and Suzanne, who are all brilliant entertainers themselves, engage with campers in a variety of physical comedy exercises and clowning techniques. At Smirkus, kids explore the expressive physicality of clowning by morphing into different animals, walking around the room while “leading” with a body part, a nose, shoulder or hips, for example. With the influence of a specific body part, kids begin to create characters – a king who walks with his nose held high, a confident character who struts with a shoulder dance, or a slouching sad clown who walks with hips forwards. These exercises are about banishing inhibitions of goofiness, connecting with emotion through body language, and allow campers to find ways to express themselves in imaginative new ways.

Performing coach Sam using clowning techniques on the Spanish web!

Performance coach Sam using clowning techniques on the Spanish web!

Check out this video of a couple of our Session III campers performing part of act they learned this week! There are more photos of Session III clowning on Flickr too.

What do you do when your hands are stuck together!?

All the best,



About Hula Hooping Hannah

Hannah Stanton-Gockel is a graduate of Ohio University, a fluent Spanish speaker, world traveler and a hula hoop circus performer who devotes her life to story-telling both onstage and off. With a focus in marketing and the guts to venture anywhere, Hannah currently works as the PR intern for Circus Smirkus in Vermont. You can follow her as she finds her purpose in this circus on Instagram @hulahoopinghannah.
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