Isabella Majzun, a 16-year-old acrobatic juggler and sophomore at LHWHS, has earned a spot with Circus Smirkus, the country’s only traditional traveling youth circus!
Isabella trains at Circus Harmony as a member of the elite acrobatic troupe, the St. Louis Arches, under the direction of Jessica Hentoff, juggling coach Richard Kennison and contortion coach Rosa Yagaantsetseg. The Arches perform most Saturdays in the City Museum at 1 and 3 p.m., and during the month of June behind Powell Hall during Circus Flora. With the Arches, Isabella has performed and trained in Israel, Canada, Washington D.C., Atlanta and Portland.
Last fall, Isabella submitted an audition tape to Smirkus headquarters in Greensboro, Vermont, and was called for a live audition in January. She will travel and work with 29 other performers, ages 12 to 18, who represent some of the world’s most exciting young circus talent. This year’s troupers hail from 13 states: California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington, as well as Africa and Canada. Their skills include juggling, wire-walking, clowning, acrobatics, Chinese pole, hula hoop, aerials, and unicycling.
The performers will travel to Greensboro for three weeks of rehearsals at Smirkus headquarters in June, then hit the road for a 66-show tour that touches down in 16 cities and towns in the Northeast over the course of seven weeks. As “Smirkos,” they will join fellow troupers in tasks such as taking care of props, selling tickets and popcorn, and working cooperatively with the professional tent crew, light and sound technicians, equipment riggers, customer, musicians and others who travel with the one-ring show.
Over the years, Circus Smirkus has become known for its theme-based and “story” shows. Themes have included Chefs, Pirates, the Wild West, and Superheroes, while stories have included original circus versions of “Alice Through the Looking Glass” and “Pinocchio.”
This year, Circus Smirkus celebrates its 30th anniversary with “Midnight at the Museum!”, an exhilarating celebration of what happens when a sleepy museum comes to life after hours. Troy Wunderle is the show’s artistic director, and Mark Lonergan the creative director. Wunderle has been Big Top Tour Artistic Director of Circus Smirkus for 19 years, and serves as Director of Clowning for the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus. He is also founder of Wunderle’s Big Top Adventures, LLC. Lonergan is the Founding Artistic Director of Parallel Exit, and Guest Director for the 2015 – 2106 Big Apple Circus production The Grand Tour.
*Top photo is courtesy of Robert Swanson.*