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Circus Smirkus On the Road Again

07/01/2022 04:31PM ● By GENEVIEVE MARTINEAU
Come one! Come all! Live performance is back! Grab some popcorn and bring the whole family to see acrobatics, juggling, unicycling, and so much more right here in Burlington. Circus Smirkus is celebrating its 35th anniversary in style with the 2022 Big Top Tour: On The Road Again.

The Circus Smirkus Big Top Tour—on the road July 2 through August 14—features a cast of 30 young circus artists who will perform 46 shows in Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Maine. The shows will include a variety of circus acts, including aerial acts, wire walking, clowns, contortionists, and more, all set to live music, under a beautiful big top tent.



 Circus Smirkus celebrates its 35th anniversary this summer! Since 1987, kids ages 10–18 have been performing under our beautiful big top tent for audiences across New England. 


The mission of Smirkus is simple in theory and thoughtfully executed in practice: “To promote the skills, culture, and traditions of the traveling circus and to inspire youth to engage in life-changing adventures in the circus arts.” The organization’s three programs—Circus Smirkus Residencies, Smirkus Camp, and Big Top Tour—blend the best of circus tradition and contemporary practice to create immersive experiences that challenge kids to perform and live to the very best of their abilities. Smirkus also prides itself on raising money each year to distribute financial aid scholarships in order to include kids that might not otherwise be able to attend. President of the Board Michele Levy tells us, “Our goal is to bring the magic of Smirkus to as many children and youth as possible. Last year, we were able to award over $90,000 in scholarships, and we hope to raise even more this year.”

Camps at the gorgeous headquarters of Circus Smirkus come in a range of offerings from one day, get-your-feet-wet experiences for children as young as five to one-, two-, or three- week camps specializing in the whole range of circus pursuits, including acrobatics, aerials, clowning, balance, and juggling. For many campers, Smirkus Camp is a home away from home, where they are celebrated for just being themselves, where they fit in no matter what.

In all, over 400 campers participate each summer in a variety of programs that range in level from beginner to advanced. Although most of the camps are open to all skill levels, advanced sessions require a video audition for placement.


When it comes to securing a spot in the Big Top Tour, the process becomes a bit more involved. The audition requires both a written application and a recorded audition. After review by the tour’s directorial staff, the pool is reduced to 45 performers who are then invited to participate in a second-round audition in which auditionees showcase a thematic act and participate in skills assessment workshops, after which 30 troupers are selected for the final cast.

This season’s troupe comprises youth from 13 states. After the troupers’ selection has been finalized, the show script is created over the winter months, and act creation and rehearsals take place onsite in Greensboro for three weeks in June. Then the troupers hit the road for six weeks in which full two-hour shows are performed twice daily.

The amazing performances audiences enjoy require numerous helping hands and behind-the- scenes dedication to execute. The tour includes 80 people—the crew, performers, counselors, and coaches. It takes eight hours to set up the big top and the backstage and concession tents and to prep and organize 200 costume pieces, 100 props, 70 spotlights, and a mile of electrical cable. But ultimately, all this work is worth it for those involved.

New Executive Artistic Director Steve Mac- Queen says, “I am thrilled to go out on the road with this incredible troupe this summer. I can’t wait to see all the work that goes into creating this show and feel all the excitement from the troupers and the audience. This is such a special group of amazing young people—the skills, the enthusiasm, the ability to work together as a cohesive team. For a lot of them, circus is an all-consuming passion that they’ve spent years refining already, and I cannot wait to be part  of the team that turns this year’s concept into a big-top reality.” 



 Come delight in these young circus artists performing contortion, juggling, clowning, wire walking, acrobatics, and more! 


So what’s next for kids who participate in the camps or the tour?

Many alumni pursue careers in the circus arts, often attending prestigious circus colleges around the world. Graduates have performed with Cirque du Soleil, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, Big Apple Circus, Cirque Mechanics, Les 7 Doigts, as well as other international touring companies. You’ve seen Smirkus alumni in movies, on commercials, and on variety shows like America’s Got Tal- ent. Smirkus alumni have even been listed in the Guinness Book of World Records.

The skills acquired at Smirkus, including confidence, team building, and communication,have tremendous crossover in a variety of careers, serving to benefit even those who do not continue on a circus-related career path. The Smirkus experience celebrates participants for exactly who they are, far from the pressures and expectations of family, peers, and school.

Steve MacQueen adds, “At this point, Smirkus is an institution. You don’t get to 35 years by being lucky. It’s an important milestone, but it’s also a new start. As we head into the future, we’ll be deeply mindful of the Smikus traditions that are such an integral part of the company’s success, but we’re all excited about exploring new ideas and going to new places. It’s going to be so much fun.”

 Don’t miss the 35th Anniversary Circus Smirkus Big Top Tour throughout New England. Tickets are available at or call 1-877-SMIRKUS (1-877-764-7587).

Circus Smirkus

1 Circus Road

 Greensboro, VT 

(802) 533-7443 

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