SARATOGA SPRINGS – Children and families took an adventure through time and space in the fields near the Saratoga Casino Hotel as Circus Smirkus returned to town. The renowned Vermont-based youth circus promotion made its way back to Saratoga Springs from July 11-12, once again with the collaboration of the Waldorf School of Saratoga Springs. This year marks the show’s 30th anniversary, and the wild theme this year was designed to evoke a sense of its history. While certainly a grand afternoon out for many families in the area, the event also serves as one of the school’s biggest yearly fundraising opportunities, bringing in a significant amount for the school’s general operating budget.
The theme of this year’s show is “Midnight at the Museum,” which sees three young performers staying the night at the otherworldly “Smirksonian” museum. After a bit of mischief results in “The Archives” being opened against the express warning of the museum’s curator, all of the exhibits spring to life and serve as the basis for the show’s various set pieces. The general feel of the story being told by Circus Smirkus is most similar to the “Night at the Museum” film series.
Some of the set pieces in this year’s show include ones themed around jungles, skeletons, pirates, astronauts, and one particular inventive sequence based around a museum heist. One of the more striking performances early on came from 16-year-old Isabella Majzun, who performed a mesmerizing juggling routine while also balancing herself on a large ball. Artistic director for the show and head clown Troy Wunderle said that the museum theme was chosen deliberately, as it allows them to pay homage to Circus Smirkus’s 30-year history. Many of the individual set pieces in the show are references to themes from previous years.
One thing that should immediately stand out to viewers is the youth of the performers in the show. According to Wunderle, the performers range in age from 12-18, and come from all over the country. One performer, 18-year-old Patrick Chikoloma, is from as far away Lusaka, Zambia. While the performers may be young, Wunderle said that they are entirely professional, as anyone who watches their polished and skillful performances can attest. The teens in the show are properly trained in a variety of different circus arts programs. Quite often, Circus Smirkus serves as a springboard for careers in the circus industry, as Wunderle noted that past performers have gone on to work in world-renowned promotions like Cirque du Soleil and Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.
This year marks the 11th time that the Waldorf School has worked with Circus Smirkus to bring the show to Saratoga Springs. On a yearly basis, the show has been one of the school’s biggest fundraising opportunities, bringing in around $20,000-30,000, according to administrator Anne Maguire. Funds raised with Circus Smirkus go towards the school’s general operations budget, which includes salaries, building maintenance, and more.
Maguire also said that working with Circus Smirkus helps encourage students to pursue interests in circus arts, as the school itself offers a Juggling and Circus Arts Club, where students can learn to do all the various tricks and techniques they might have seen under the big top. Two Waldorf students have in the past performed with Circus Smirkus.
Photos by www.photoandgraphic.com.