Individual Acts

The first week of Session V is ending with a bang! The camp took a trip to Derby Line for their annual city-wide yard sale. Road Show performed twice for the public and although some were nervous about their first public performances, they did an incredible job! A more extensive update on Road Show is to come. For now, check the Flickr page for photos from the shows!

As previously mentioned, Session V is divided into 3 sections: The Road Show, Ensemble and Individual Acts. This blog post will focus on Individual Acts, which are led by Aerial Coach T Lawrence-Simon. T is a longtime Smirkus coach, costume designer and an incredible performer.

T performing his incredible one foot hang from the Lyra.

T performing his incredible one foot hang from the Lyra.

Over the first two days of camp, Individual Act campers met to discuss the process of creating an individual act. How do campers and coaches create an individual act in only two weeks? It is no easy feat. As Head Coach Danny Frank explained to me this week, “it is an incredible challenge even for a professional to build an act in two weeks.” We have high aspirations for Session V campers but this mindset “enables us to achieve more than we would if we set realistic, simple expectations.” As Danny sees it, the role of Smirkus Camp’s Coaches and staff is “to help kids realize their vision while giving guidance in a way that supports that vision without imposing too much.”

A trapeze act in the works.

Individual Acts work to incorporate strong body language into their routines.


A web routine takes shape.


Practice for a duo silks act.


An emotional Lyra routine

But how do our Coaches approach building these individual acts with such a limited amount of time available? The answer to this question can be found, in part, in the Triangle Rule. Many of you may be familiar with the triangle in a business context: No matter the situation, you can only achieve 2 of the 3 points: Fast, Inexpensive, and High Quality. If you need to create a product quickly or inexpensively, you can bet that it will not be high quality. Conversely, a product may be fast and high quality but it most certainly will not be cheap.


At Smirkus Camp, this rule is exhibited through Level of Difficulty, Level of Preparedness, Rehearsal Time. In order to have a performance-ready, highly difficult routine, you need a LOT of time. Two weeks is a short time at Smirkus Camp, and our goal for Individual Acts is first and foremost to create a clean, entertaining and audience-ready routine. With support from T and camp’s team of specialized coaches, campers decide which skills are their strongest, which skills they have time to practice during the next two weeks, and which skills need more work before being incorporated into their act.

The Triangle Rule of Creating a Smirkus Act

The Triangle Rule of Creating a Smirkus Act


Working on a clown routine.

Most campers come to Smirkus Camp wanting to dig deeper into their skills while some come here ready to try sometime new. Individual Acts this year include: aerial hoop, partner rope, clown, character hoop, juggling, character cigar box, and trapeze. The campers are all putting so much work into their individual acts and we cannot wait to see the final product at the end of this week.


A clown tries to open a suitcase.


Striking a pose during practice for the clowning hoop act.

Next Up: Road Show hits the road! Today we’re headed to Montpelier for a couple of performances. Hup, Hey!

– It’s mainly about working hard and proving to people you’re serious about it, and stretching yourself and learning. The mistake a lot of actors make, particularly young ones, is allowing themselves to feel that they’re the finished articles, the bee’s knees, and it’s not true.

Daniel Radcliffe

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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