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Considering Life After Smirkus

Editor’s note: This post was written by Chase Levy, 3rd year trouper. Not only has Chase been a trouper as part of the Big Top Tour for the last 3 years, but he has shared his love of filmmaking by creating the promotion videos for the 2017 & 2018 Big Top Tours. 

WATCH: Here is a short film made in 2016 which encapsulates both my love for film and circus. The film is a promo for an act created for the 2016 First Night Burlington show.

As I start to think about what my life might hold after high school, I reflect over my years at Smirkus—five years as a camper, and three years as a trouper. Part of this reflection comes from writing about Smirkus for college applications and delving into what I have learned through this amazing experience. The other part comes from my knowledge that a decision will need to be made by the end of the school year. In a few short months,  I will have to decide if I want to go to a traditional college and study filmmaking, or if I want to pursue circus by attending one of the many circus schools around the world.

Chase “the Base” lifts Serafina Walker in the 2018 show

It is a big decision, one that I have already put a lot of thought into. Of course, if I choose to go to a traditional college, I will continue being involved with circus and try to keep up my practice. And if I go to a circus school, I will definitely continue making films.I was talking with one of my fellow troupers recently and posed this dilemma to him. He then gave me some really insightful advice, including an idea that has stuck with me since our conversation. He said that “we have to choose what will make us the most happy now and run with it because, in the end, that’s what really matters”.

Chase clowning in 2017 Big Top Tour: Midnight at the Museum

I have been in love with Smirkus from the very first time I stepped in the Chapiteau as an audience member 10 years ago. Through Smirkus, I have developed lifelong friends and experiences that I have made me the person I am today. I love my school and am happy with my “home friends” but I live to be around Smirkus people and further myself as an artist. I believe that I am my most authentic self when I am surrounded by circus people. There is no judgment whatsoever and I am constantly inspired by everyone’s drive for their art and compassion for their fellow artists. I don’t think I will ever get over the nerves of a first show in a series… but I’m not sure I want to. The butterflies in my stomach just before I go on tell me that I care about circus and remind me to always be the best I can be.

Chase Levy | Age 17 | Newton, MA

Unfortunately, that is part of what makes the decision so challenging. If I look ahead 10 years, I can see myself performing with a circus. I am traveling the world and loving every minute of it (a phrase I have taken to heart after years of working with Troy Wunderle). I envision myself as happy; and who wouldn’t be, on the adventure of a lifetime? I can also see myself getting into my dream film school, loving college and the creative environment it offers, and being challenged (in a good way) in the film industry.

I have no idea what I’ll choose. But I know that I’m fortunate to have such incredible options, and I’m grateful to the Smirkus community for the support and inspiration I have found since that first show 10 years ago.