Circus Smirkus wows Northampton audiences (photos, video)

Aug 4 2018

Circus Smirkus, the award-winning traveling youth circus, stopped in Northampton for two days of shows under the big top at the Three County Fairgrounds.

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NORTHAMPTON — Sixty-eight shows in 17 cities and towns across New England would be a grueling schedule for even a seasoned circus performer.

With ages ranging from 10 to 18, the troupers of Circus Smirkus are hoping to become those seasoned veterans of the Big Top.

Circus Smirkus, the award-winning traveling youth circus, stopped in Northampton for two days of shows under the big top at the Three County Fairgrounds. The circus was hosted by North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens in Sunderland.

The 750-seat circus big top tent was filled to capacity with families enthusiastically applauding and cheering the troupers as they swung from the ceiling, walked a tightrope and performed tons of comedy sketches showcasing skills from acrobatics to magic.

For 15-year-old Serafina Walker, of Greenfield, it’s all about her “family” of fellow circus performers. The third year trouper talks first about her circus family and then of her love for the craft.

“We come together as such a family,” Walker said. “We’re on the road for seven weeks and we create the show in only three weeks, so we really get to bond, and the troupe becomes a little family inside itself.”

Circus college in Europe or Canada is on Walker’s agenda after high school, with a career in the circus her ultimate dream. Her favorite act to perform at Circus Smirkus? Acrobatic acts on straps that hang from the ceiling.

Troy Wunderle, the artistic director of Circus Smirkus, is himself a veteran of the circus world. Wunderle was with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus for the past nine years, most recently as their Director of Clowning. “I’m absolutely passionate about what the circus art does not only for those that participate but those that view it,” he said. “These kids are full of grit, they’re full of hard work, they’re full of passion, and we share good will with the rest of the world.”

Located in Greensboro, Vermont, Circus Smirkus is a nonprofit arts and education organization whose mission is to promote the skills, culture, and traditions of the traveling circus. The Circus Smirkus Big Top Tour is the only traveling youth circus in the United States. The company performs in nearly 20 New England towns to approximately 42,000 patrons each summer.

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