Circus Blogs: Camp News Big Top Tour News Residency News

The official Circus Smirkus Residency Blog

A Big Top Makes Space

CIrcus Smirkus

Editor’s note: This story first appeared on the Vermont Arts Council website on May 9, 2019 and was written by Susan McDowell.  “There truly is room for everyone under the big top.” Jennifer Carlo, executive director at Circus Smirkus posits that the history of the circus is a story of inclusion. “Circus really is all about celebrating differences and bringing it all into a cohesive whole.” Often performers excluded from more traditional art forms have been recognized and given a home. Circus, as she describes it, is built on “bringing different talents and different people together to create something that is just magical.” Jen…

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Mt. Lebanon School Residency

Meet Smirkus Residency artists Joy Powers and Nettie Lane, and learn about our recent residency at the Mount Lebanon Elementary School in Lebanon, New Hampshire. Smirkus Residencies bring our veteran circus educators into your school or after-school program to provide expert instruction in the circus arts. Students receive instruction in juggling, diabolo, devil sticks, rolla bolla, balance, plate spinning and more. Based in a curriculum approach that is aligned with the principles of social-emotional learning, students develop powers of concentration, focus, and persistence. Our residencies are classroom-ready and can be easily integrated into a larger learning unit in the classroom….

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Winooski Middle School

Winooski Middle School Circus Smirkus Residency, funded by the Vermont Flexible Pathways program

In the fall of 2017 Circus Smirkus received a grant from the Vermont Agency of Education via its Flexible Pathways program to conduct a 7-week circus residency with the 6th graders at Winooski Middle School in Winooski, VT. The grant allowed us the unique opportunity to create an extended learning provider model that aligns circus arts education with social and emotional learning outcomes. Watch this video to learn more: Learn more about bringing a residency to your school.

DIY Circus Lab

Jackie Davis, Author of DIY Circus Lab

“I believe more kids — ALL kids — should have the chance to discover circus.” So says circus educator and Smirkus residency consultant Jackie Davis, author of the newly released DIY Circus Lab for Kids. The book, she says, is the culmination of her lifelong work as a circus educator, and guides readers through the ABCs of making their own circus. It teaches basic skills like juggling, tumbling, clowning and how kids can make their own circus equipment and props. Using the book as a guide, readers can learn how to combine skills into an act, and acts into a circus show. Newly released by Quarry Books, it is an…

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Study: Circus Arts Improve Student Learning Skills

The results of a year-long education study are in, and show that integrating the circus arts into K-12 education can improve student performance. Nationwide, circus programs improved social and emotional learning skills in all areas measured. Conducted by the Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality, the study observed children in school residency programs offered by Circus Smirkus and seven other circus arts providers across America. The study asked a simple question: Do the circus arts improve Social Emotional Learning (SEL) skills in schools? “Circus arts delivered results measurably better than the comparison group composed of a wide range of school arts and sports activities.” The answer is…

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Lakeview Residency Update

The Lakeview Elementary School in our hometown of Greensboro, VT has about 80 students in grades K – 6. This school year something extraordinary happened there – nearly half of these kids participated in an extended Smirkus Residency that lasted about half of the school year within their PE class. For me, as a former classroom science teacher and longtime unicycle coach, this was a chance to get to know many of our local kids and their parents, while expanding my skills in teaching circus arts. In this project I was fortunate to be mentored by Jackie Davis, a Circademic,…

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Residency Program Awarded VT Grant

A partnership between Circus Smirkus and the Winooski (VT) School District has been awarded a grant from the Vermont Agency of Education to demonstrate how an engaging learning opportunity – like the circus arts – can support a school’s shift toward personalized learning experiences for students. This change encourages students to take ownership and responsibility for their own learning and educational goals. In this project, Circus Smirkus and the Winooski Middle School will be aligning their offerings around important content and skills and developing ways to track students’ individual progress toward their learning goals. As an engaging series of skills that…

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Update From Nettie Lane, Residency Artist

I am working at a school in Vermont right near the border of Canada and New Hampshire. It’s cold and snowy over here, but something happened that warmed my heart. I have one student who is in a wheelchair and doesn’t have much muscle or muscle control. It is difficult for her to lift things. Yesterday, we worked together on finding ways to adapt the activities. We cut a stick down making it a lot shorter and worked out a plate spinning routine. Today, her mother found me before my class to say ‘thank you.’ The circus magic had taken…

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