If you are looking for something fun to do with your family in Northampton this weekend - check out Circus Smirkus at the Three County Fairgrounds. There are shows tonight at 7 pm, and tomorrow at 1 pm and 7 pm. Though based in Vermont, this talented troupe boasts some local performers. See the article from the Daily Hampshire Gazette to follow.
Local Circus Smirkus acrobats fly high for home crowd
Cameron Zweir, of Holyoke, and Serafina Walker, of Greenfield, demonstrate a move they use while performing for Circus Smirkus, Thursday at Three County Fairgrounds. —Gazette Staff/JERREY ROBERTS
By ALEXA CHRYSSOVERGIS
Friday, July 15, 2016
When Lucia Mason, 17, was growing up, she was always up a tree somewhere.
The Montague native loved to climb — did it every chance she got, so much so that her mother decided she needed an outlet.
“My mom was like, ‘we need to do something with you,’” she laughed.
That led to joining Circus Smirkus, an international youth circus that has had several performances in Northampton already this week. Shows continue into the weekend, with performances at 1 and 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and feature performances by two other local troupers in addition to Mason: Serafina Walker, 13, from Greenfield and Cameron Zweir, 17, from Holyoke.
Smirkus hails from Vermont and is in its 29th year of touring. The 2016 Big Top Tour begins performing in late June and continues through mid-August, traveling through Vermont, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut and upstate New York for a total of 67 shows.
Troupers’ individual tricks and stunts stand alone. But many others contribute to the effort, including tent and concession crew members, counselors and organizers, said Circus Smirkus assistant counselor Casey Venturelli. Working together, she said, they create a “beautiful dance.”
Without one piece, the rest could crumble, and the dance could fall out of sync.
“There’s a lot of togetherness,” Venturelli, 22, said.
A leader, natural and mature
If the troupers were an airplane — to play along with this year’s theme, “Up HUP, and Away: The Invention of Flight” — Zweir might be the engine. One of the older, taller and sturdier of the troupe, he often is physically supporting the weight of his fellow performers in the show, face twisted in concentration and knees shaking.
Zweir is a natural leader, Venturelli said. He contributes to the group and carries his weight — and sometimes, the weight of the other troupers. He’s conscientious and thoughtful, Venturelli said, and listens to calm instrumental music or Flume in his free time.
Zweir is a third-year trouper this summer and performs as a clown, acrobat and aerialist. He was a gymnast for most of his life before joining Smirkus and plans to attend Savannah College of Art and Design to study acting and stunt work.
“I definitely wouldn’t be who I am without Smirkus,” Zweir said. “It’s taught me so much.”
Toughness and strength
Mason is only a first-year trouper, but being 17 and strong, she’s a leader in her own right. A few hours before the show Thursday, she stretched her limbs on a rope outside the group’s backstage tent, guiding fellow troupers to do a “hip hop climb” in an encouraging tone.
The muscles in her lithe body rippled as she demonstrated the trick to her friends Isle, Sarah and Jeannette, and then slid down to explain.
Up on a swing, together
Then there’s first-year-trouper Walker, who Venturelli says takes constructive criticism with the utmost seriousness and whose bio in the program booklet says she speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese.
When she found out she’d made it into Smirkus, she said she “squealed very much” and almost broke her mom’s ribs from hugging her so hard.
Though young, Walker easily matches the synchronization of some of the older teammates. In one of the first performances of the show Thursday, she lifted her body elegantly up a swinging metal structure with four other acrobats, contorting and twisting. The girls all held each other up and balanced just right so as not to tumble off.
The togetherness manifests in the trouper’s relationships with each other, too, Venturelli said. They create a tight-knit community.
The show teaches them valuable lessons, Venturelli said. Being on the road for weeks at a time at a young age matures them rapidly and shows them perseverance, resilience and strength. And those 11- to 18-year-olds inspire her, as well.
“They’re tiny people but they’re really incredible,” Venturelli said. “They teach me a lot.”