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February 24, 2010

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February 24, 2010

Circus Smirkus provides an environment for young people to become better at both team work and leadership, responsibility -for both oneself and others- creativity and self expression. It fosters empathy, passion, commitment and self discipline. This is done through the circus arts- from juggling to acrobatics, clowning to trapeze, aerials to tightrope walking. It is not difficult to understand how the lessons learned by working in a tight-knit group towards a common goal over a period of ten weeks stand the participants in good stead as they evolve through their teenage years and become young adults. As a parent I feel immensely proud of my child's achievements-both physical and developmental- thanks to Circus Smirkus, as well as grateful that he found this gem of an experience. Don't be deceived by the title 'youth' circus. It is incredibly professional and of an exceptionally high standard. Guests from all over the World have echoed this as well as numerous newspaper articles and television reports. Although running away to the circus is an affordable affair, running the circus is not. That the kids sleep in ancient, but clean trailers is part of the charm. That families can afford the ticket price is paramount. However transportation and putting on shows with the safety of both participants and the audience IS expensive.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

More feedback...

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

Dedicated, dedicated and dedicated. Intelligent, artistic, creative and passionate.

Ways to make it better...

We had found out about it sooner and if the kids could participate for longer!

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

Financial

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every six months

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

February 24, 2010

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February 24, 2010

I first experienced Circus Smirkus 11 years ago as a prent taking my young daughter to a Big Top tour show. The whole family was blown away! The kids who were performing showed such incredible energy and joy! My daughter said then and there, "Dad, I want to do that!" Soon after, she began attending Circus Smirkus summer camps. My wife and I were very pleased and impressed by the high standards for fitness and nutrition at the camps as well as the great pleasure and satisfaction our daughter derived from attending them. A few years ago, she decided to try out to become a Big Top Tour Trouper. Her experience on tour for the last two summers has been just plain wonderful and I have continued to be impressed by the fact that the joy and exuberance I noted 11 years ago is still a feature of each performance. I volunteered at just about every show I could manage to attend. I witnessed the wide-eyed wonder of the kids in the audience, the smiling parents, and the hard work by everyone associated with the show. I was impressed to learn that, not only does the Tour act as a fund-raiser for a variety of local non-profit sponsors, but the Troupers even give short impromptu shows at various locations their route - for example Paul Newman's "Hole in the Wall Gang" camp for kids with cancer and other serious illnesses. Last summer, I was asked to join the Board of Directors, and although I realized it would be a serious time commitment on my part, I did not hesitate to say yes. As a Board member, my view of the organization broadened and I could see the other ways Circus Smirkus touches people's lives. One of the programs visits schools throughout the northeast for short "residencies," where the kids are taught some simple circus skills as a way of encouraging fitness. The more I have seen of Circus Smirkus, the more imprssed I have become. It is a jewel of an organization!

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The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

universally dedicated to the kids in the program and to the mission of promoting circus both as an art form and as an alternative to the increasingly passive forms of entertainment kids experience. The staff and volunteers literally love being involved.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every month

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

February 19, 2010

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February 19, 2010

Circus Smirkus makes magic. It's that simple. Each summer audiences fall in love with the wonder, joy, & artistry of the circus arts through Smirkus' award-winning Big Top Tour, performed primarily by talented children and teens. In addition to its tour, Smirkus brings the circus arts to thousands of children annually through school residencies and summer camp programs. My son was first introduced to Circus Smirkus by attending annual performances of the Big Top Tour. Years later, a Smirkus school residency resulted in his learning to diabolo and juggle - with a passion! As a ninth grader, he attended the Smirkus Advanced Camp, and one year later he was on tour as an official "trouper". The Smirkus experience has been a remarkable journey of transformation. Whether through residency, camp, or tour, Smirkus teaches kids to extend the boundaries of what they thought possible, and to love the unique form of art that is circus.

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The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

seeing kids - including my own - develop a passion & skill for the circus arts.

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What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

the shared sense of inclusiveness and in supporting the same mission.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

like family.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

establish a national circus school to reach even more children and preserve the important and unique art that is circus.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About once a year

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

February 19, 2010

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February 19, 2010

Circus Smirkus is absolutely amazing. Before seeing it, many people think it is just a kids' show. They are incredibly surprised withing minutes of the show starting. All the performers are professional caliber, but they have the enthusiasm and enjoyment that many professionals lack. If a performer does not have a smile on their face, it is because they are a clown who just got a pie in the face. Often after a show audience members will tell say "Oh, that was just as good as Cirque du Soleil" Many others say that Smirkus is better.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

I've personally experienced results of Circus Smirkus in my everyday life, it has changed who I am. Now I have more self-confidence, I am more outgoing, and I can do a back-flip if the need arises.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Keep it the same.

More feedback...

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

Friendly and helpful.

Ways to make it better...

Not applicable

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every month

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

February 19, 2010

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February 19, 2010

I grew up attending Circus Smirkus Camp (5 summers) and then performing on the Circus Smirkus Big Top Tour (4 summers). It is impossible for me to describe the infinate number of ways in which Smirkus shaped my life- every summer with Smirkus taught with me new lessons, gave me new strength and confidence, and added to my ever-growing circus family. Nothing compares to the pure joy and passion that young performers are able to share in the Smirkus ring and I know that the organization not only has a lasting impact on the kids who participate, but their families, the audiences that come to the shows, and so many others. Smirkus is an incredible organization and I feel so lucky to have it in my life.

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Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

give it a larger budget!

More feedback...

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

performing, the people... so many things! Nothing compares to spending 10 weeks with a group of such amazing people and performing your heard out for 70 shows. Its an undescribable experience.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

amazing!! Its impossible to have a 7 week tour on the road without numerous challenges, crises, and equipment breakdowns, but every summer the Smirkus staff overcame every obstacle with such spirit and passion-an inspiration to us troupers.

Ways to make it better...

it could have lasted longer! I know that no matter what I do in my future-performing circus or something completely different- I will be incredibly lucky to find an organization as incredible as Smirkus.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About once a year

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

February 19, 2010

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February 19, 2010

I am the parent of a child who went to Circus Smirkus summer camp for three years and then was encouraged to audition for the tour. She was accepted and what had been a fun pursuit for her turned into a passion. She toured for 2 years until she became too old. It happened that for her, this led to a professional circus career, though what she gained from the experience would be useful in any profession. What I saw as a parent was this: my child was stretched and challenged to work really hard to pursue her dream of making it to auditions and to be accepted to the tour. She developed a confidence I did not know she had. I witnessed her relating to the audience as a whole, interacting with individual fans young and old, and working hard with her fellow troupers, who became like family to her. I saw a sense of responsibility and teamwork in her and in the entire troupe that I did not think was possible in a group of young people. During the teenage years, human beings tend to be extremely self-centered and can be pretty inconsiderate of others. But I saw a group of young people who worked as hard on the show as a whole as they did to develop their own skills. It requires sometimes putting aside one's own desires for the good of the show. Those accepted to tour are all talented. They have incredible discipline in their individual training, but there are also many group acts and ensemble pieces, requiring endless rehearsal within the larger context of the troupe. Every day they have to work together not only in the ring, but behind the scenes. This includes many daily chores such as meal clean-up, picking up trash in the bleachers, etc, and also working with the ring crew. They have to keep themselves and each other safe and they have to help each other. Sometimes they literally hold each other's lives in their hands. This requires a degree of trust and honesty that most people do not have to face in the workplace. The directors and coaches are extraordinary. Although they bring out the personal best in each young person's skills, they set a high standard for professionalism and maturity for the troupe as a whole. They demand the best in character, behavior and attitude from each trouper. They treat the troupers with respect and are respected in return. My child spent her summers in this wholesome, challenging environment learning important life lessons and growing confident and mature. Oh, and they put on a heck of a great show!

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

seeing my child grow and blossom, seeing so many happy circus-goers, making friends in the Smirkus community. And the shows themselves are top-notch, wholesome, delightful family entertainment.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

More feedback...

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

The love that everyone who works there has for their work. I don't think anyone is getting rich working for Circus Smirkus, but everyone truly believes in it, and has the kind of enthusiasm and love that makes it more than a job.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

Exceptional human beings. Circus Smirkus seems to attract great people!

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

provide better living quarters for the troupers during the 3 training weeks. Better bleachers, wider possibilities of touring. There could even be a winter tour, maybe for alumni who want to pursue circus professionally, providing year-round jobs for crew

Ways to make it better...

my child had been able to just stay there longer... but all good things have to come to an end. And new beginnings are waiting to happen!

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

financial.

One thing I'd also say is that...

Circus Smirkus is gaining recognition, but is still a rather well-kept secret. The people working on publicity are doing a great job, but with more resources could reach more people.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every week

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

February 19, 2010

more

February 19, 2010

I am the parent of a "smirko", and I think that circus smirkus has provided an incredible growth opportunity for my daughter, who was a shy kid when she started with them, and after 2 touring summers, has become much more confident, outspoken, and community minded. The people behind the scenes are dedicated individuals, who bring the joy of circus to both the performers and audiences. I lthink smirkus is an outstanding organization!

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If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

publicize circus smirkus more, draw bigger crowds and bring more joy and inspiration to the world.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every six months

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

February 19, 2010

more

February 19, 2010

I've been involved with Circus Smirkus for the past 8 years. First as a camper, then a trouper, and now as an alumni. The organization has shaped me into person that I am today. Circus Smirkus is a close knit community of kind and passionate people who share a common goal of making the best show possible. Smirkus is more than any kid could ever ask for.

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The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

have become some of my best friends, my mentors and and my peers. The staff and volunteers associated with Smirkus are a fantastic force that drive the organization with an unwaveringly positive attitude

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

So many things. Buy a bigger tent, make a better show, expand the camp, expand and increase the length of the tour, buy new equipment, renovate the HQ. The list goes on and on, but $10 million would simply alleaviate all the pressure to raise funds needed

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every week

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

February 18, 2010

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February 18, 2010

My daugher, Aerial, was involved with Circus Smirkus over a 5 year period including camps and the touring company. As a family this experience has been a HUGE part of our lives all year round. Even though camp was for a week or two at a time and Aerial's tour experience was a 10 week period over the summer for 3 seasons ... she lived Circus Smirkus all year. It positively affected her school work and her home life. She knew that if she was all good in school that we as her folks would let her live her dream in the summer. She did more chores around the house. We owe it to the Smirkus staff for giving the kids a voice in decisions and the fact that as a whole they all depended on one another on the road ... staff and trouper alike. Aerial is now in Circus College in Quebec Canada and is following her dream. She knows what is like to train hard ... do multiple shows in a day, meet and greet audiences, face the joy of a wonderful performance and learned to accept a not-so-good show with grace and dignity. Respect ... a lot of respect on circus Smirkus amongst all. Although Aerial is off the show now as she aged out, We will continue to be involved and fly up for shows in the summer as our child gained SO MUCH from the experience. As did we! Truly, Sean Emery Meg Emery

Photos

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

my own life by being inspired by the energy, fun and vitality of the young folks on the show. Their performing energy is brilliant!!!!!

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Tour it to more states as they currently tour in 6 tom 7 states. More should see the show!!!!

More feedback...

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

The feeling of inclusiveness and family that Smirkus provides.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

Sincere, sweaty, hard-working, dedicated,caring nurturing, respectful, fun, serious and always enthusiastic.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

bring the rewards of circus, ensemble work and touring and growth to thousands of youngsters. They would give Cirque du Soliel a run....

Ways to make it better...

I could have been a youngster in the show. and maybe lived closer to Vermont. We are in Minnesota.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

Keeping great artistic directors, coaches and staff. They must keep the creative force alive. and lets not forget administration .... for planning, logistics, fund-raising (a constant). The show is in a real big top with a live band and a cook house!

One thing I'd also say is that...

I wish trouper could perform on the show until the age of 19 .....

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About once a year

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

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