|Circus name||Circus Smirkus Big Top Tour|
|Director(s)||Jesse Dryden, creative director
Troy Wunderle, artistic director
Ed LeClair, executive director
|Winter quarters||Greensboro, Vermont, USA|
Circus Smirkus is a non-profit, award-winning, international youth circus founded in 1987 by Rob Mermin. Based in Greensboro, Vermont, the mission of Circus Smirkus is to promote the skills, culture and traditions of the traveling circus and to inspire youth to engage in the circus arts.
From 1990 to 2010, the circus has had more than 4,000 youths aged 10-18 in its summer camps.
Big Top Tour
Circus Smirkus is one of the few youth circuses touring in the European style with its own big top tent.
Circus Smirkus' Big Top Tour travels around the Northeastern United States for seven weeks every summer, performing about 70 shows in addition to several community service shows.
Each year the show has a new theme, complete with appropriate story, costumes and original music.
The performers ("troupers") range in age from 10 to 18. Professional artists occasionally perform with the troupers as colleagues in the ring. They perform juggling, acrobatics, aerials, unicycling, wire walking and clowning
Troupers are selected through auditions. Many of them begin their circus training in summer circus camps and similar programs, auditioning for the Big Top Tour after they've developed solid skills and the beginnings of a circus performance style. Foreign guest performers typically come from international circus schools. In addition to performing, all of the troupers have circus chores: setting up the ring, selling concessions, tending costumes and props.
Smirkus' performers and coaches have come from Canada, China, Colombia, United Kingdom, Ethiopia, France, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Moldova, Mongolia, the Netherlands, Russia, Sweden, Thailand, Ukraine, ten Native American nations and 20 US states. At the International Children's Festival at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts in September 2000, Circus Smirkus was introduced as "the United Nations of the youth circus world."
Circus Smirkus has a summer camp that trains children in areas such as aerials, clowning/performance, acrobatics and juggling. Participants may also choose to train in other skills such as human pyramids, unicycling and stilt walking. This annual camp was located at Sterling College in Craftsbury, Vermont through 2009. The circus announced that the camp would locate onto the campus of Lyndon Institute in Lyndon, Vermont in 2010.
Awards and honors
- 1992: Vermont Arts Council's Award of Excellence
- 1994: Dove Foundation Award for Family Values
- 1994: Named "one of America's best circuses" by Family Fun Magazine
- 1997: The Bessie Award from Burlington City Arts
- 1998: People's Choice Award at "Circus Youth of Today" Festival in Sweden
- 2000: Dubbed "the United Nations of the youth circus world" by Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts
- 2004: Smirkus founder Rob Mermin awarded the Lund Family Center's "It Takes a Village" Award
- 2004: Smirkus founder Rob Mermin awarded Vermont Arts Council's Citation of Merit "for distinguished service to the arts in Vermont"
- 2008: Smirkus founder Rob Mermin awarded the Vermont Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts
|1989||Guest troupe from Tbilisi, Georgia.|
|1990||Historic joint Soviet/American youth circus tour.|
|Smirkus performed in Yaroslavl and Moscow.|
|1991||Smirkus was the first circus to perform on the island of Nantucket.|
|Latvian Youth Circus and Moscow Circus members joined the Smirkus Big Top Tour.|
|Smirkus co-produced a Soviet/American youth circus-on-ice.|
|1992||Guest performers from Russia, Moldova and Kazakhstan, and 12 performers from California’s Great Y Circus.|
|1993||Collaborating with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Russian performers and 10 Native Americans performed with Smirkus.|
|1994||Guest artists from Russia and Mongolia joined the tour.|
|1995||Guest performers from Russia, Mongolia and Hungary. Also the first exchange with Budapest Circus School.|
|1998||Guest performers joined the troupe from Russia, Israel, Mongolia and China. This was Smirkus's first exchange with the Wuqiau School and Chinese Acrobatic Arts Association.|
|1999||Alberto Zoppe's family from Italy joined the tour, performing with Percheron horses.|
|Marcel Marceau gave a benefit performance in the Smirkus tent.|
|2000||Indokids from Indonesia joined the tour.|
|Smirkus performed with Sesame Street’s Bob McGrath.|
|Disney Channel broadcast Totally Circus, a fifteen-part documentary about Smirkus.|
|2001||Collaboration with the Chicago Boyz, and with Chicago’s Midnight Circus.|
|First Arab-Israeli circus kids from Jerusalem performed in the Smirkus tent as part of a joint peace program.|
|Julia Child joined the Smirkus Board of Directors as an honorary member after her visit to the Smirkus chuck wagon.|
|2002||Collaboration with the six-member Vermont bluegrass band, the Route Seven Ramblers, who performed live with the show for the summer tour.|
|First Nations dancers and cowboy rope spinners from the Southwest joined the tour.|
|Smirkus Advanced Camp created a road show to tour hospitals and nursing homes.|
|2003||Performers joined the tour from Sweden’s youth circus troupe Cirkus and Variete.|
|2004||Volunteers for Peace joined Smirkus with students from Spain, France, England and Poland.|
|Smirkus was featured on The Martha Stewart Show.|
|2005||Collaboration with the Sandglass Theater of Putney, Vermont, produced a ringful of puppets, high-flying troupers, and miniature donkeys.|
|2006||Filmmaker Signe Taylor traveled with the Big Top Tour, shooting for a documentary entitled Circus Dreams.|
|2007||Guest performers from Colombia and Mongolia joined the tour.|
|2008||Guest performers from Colombia and Ethiopia joined the tour.|
|2009||Guest performers from England and France joined the tour.|
- Jade Kindar-Martin, highwire walker. Holds Guinness World Record for double skywalk across the River Thames in London.
- Taylor Wright-Sanson, unicyclist, equilibrist. 2008 Winner of Canada's national unicycle competition, the Ottawa Unicycle Invasion.
- Molly Saudek, tightwire dancer. Silver Medalist at the 1998 Festival Mondial Du Cirque De Demain in Paris.
- Jacob and Nathaniel Sharpe, diaboloists. Performed at 2007 Festival Mondial Du Cirque De Demain in Paris.
- John Stork. Finalist on Who Wants to Be a Superhero?
- Dan Brown. Stunt performer for Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, Letters from Iwo Jima, and others.
- Circus Smirkus' non-profit incorporated as The Circus Barn, Inc. according to GuideStar.org, a name also used in Circus Smirkus materials
- Green, Susan (25 June 2010). "Circus Smirkus:Let the big top tour begin". Burlington, Vermont: Burlington Free Press. pp. 1(Weekend).
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- "Circus Smirkus Summer Camp Facilities and Meals". Circus Smirkus. Retrieved 2009-11-24.
- "The Princess Who Wouldn't Laugh Review". Dove Foundation. Retrieved 2009-04-19.
- "Audiences are sure to 'flip' over action-packed 'Tropical Vacation'". Exeter News-Letter. Retrieved 2009-04-19.
- "Smirkus History". Circus Smirkus. Retrieved May 2, 2009.
- "Balancing Act". Seven Days. Retrieved 2009-04-19.
- "Vermont Arts Council Annual Awards". Vermont Arts Council. Retrieved 2009-04-19.
- "Rob Mermin remembers his friend, Marcel Marceau". Vermont Public Radio. Retrieved 2009-04-21.
- "About Indokids". Indokids, Inc. Archived from the original on 2009-10-24. Retrieved 2009-04-21.
- "Troupers Past & Present". Circus Smirkus. Retrieved 2009-04-21.
- Coleman, Lee (2008-06-03). "Local Youth Rides off with Canadian Unicycle Title". Schenectady Daily Gazette. The Daily Gazette Co. Retrieved 2009-04-21.
- "National Circus School - Prizes and Awards". Retrieved 2009-04-21.
- "Creating a spectacle - 28th Festival Mondial du Cirque de Demain". The Stage. Retrieved 2009-04-21.
- "Who Wants to Be a Superhero? - Heroes - Hyper-Strike". Scifi.com. Retrieved 2009-04-21.[dead link]
- "Dan Brown (VII)". IMDB. Retrieved 2009-04-21.