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The Circus Barn, Inc.

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Arts & Culture, Arts Education, Camps, Performing Arts, Performing Arts Schools, Sports

Mission: The mission of Circus Smirkus is to promote the skills, culture, and traditions of the traveling circus and to inspire youth to engage in life enhancing adventures in the circus arts. Smirkus’s vision for the future includes national and international recognition as an organization that offers the highest quality performance and education programs in the traditional circus arts, with an emphasis on providing the opportunity for young people to live up to their potential and transform their lives through participation in circus.

Geographic areas served: Northeastern United States

Programs: In-School Residencies, Smirkus Summer Camp, The Big Top Tour

Community Stories

6 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters



Rating: 5

My son went to Smirkus Camp twice and then became a performer with the Smirkus Summer Tour for 2 years. In that short time he grew from being quiet, reticent, and a bit insecure to someone who radiated on stage with full confidence and strength of character, and his skills improved 300%. I had no ambitions for my son to be a performer, but I will say that I could not have chosen a better place for him in his teen years. He was surrounded by caring, creative and loving human beings in the troupe and the staff. He found a family that encouraged him and gave him numerous opportunities to grow, succeed and participate fully and responsibly in all areas- performing, creating, and all the behind-the-scenes work. He went from a single parent family to having numerous supportive "parents," mentors and peers. I never had any experience with the circus or any interest either, but that quickly changed as I became an eager, enthusiastic circus mom, thanks to the people who make up this organization and the excitement that was generated the minute I entered the scene.



Rating: 5

Two years ago I went to Smirkus Summer Camp just for fun. Within the first few minutes I already felt like I was surrounded by a family. The campers and the staff were so supportive, and they helped me build the confidence that led me to audition for the Big Top Tour last year. I had no idea what to expect when I was accepted as a 2009 trouper, but I was amazed by the experience I had. Not only did I learn new skills, I learned to work as a team and work through challenging conditions. The best part was sharing our show with the public and seeing them walk away from our big top with huge smiles on their faces. I came away from this summer a stronger, harder working person. The people I travelled with are my second family, they picked me up when I was down and brought out the best in me.



Rating: 5

Circus Smirkus is rollicking good fun. Here, talented teenage performers safely push the boundaries of their own potential to the delight of audiences who are swept along with the foot-stomping exhilaration of simply watching them. It’s zany, hilarious and absurd; a brightly colored dream where anything and everything can come true.



Rating: 5

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.



Rating: 5

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!



Rating: 5

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!