5 Lessons Learned Growing Up & Working at Circus Smirkus Camp

Circus News

5 Lessons I Learned Growing Up – and Then Working at– A Circus Camp

It’s rare that we get the chance to interact with the same institution from many positions. Circus Smirkus camp, the sleep-away summer camp run by the youth circus of Vermont Circus Smirkus, is one of those rare establishments that actively hires former campers to be on staff as coaches and counselors. I have now had the privilege of inhabiting all three of these roles: a camper from 2006-2012, a counselor in 2014 and 2015, and this past season, a coach. I am happy to report back with some good news: while each position offers new challenges, the magic of this place remains the same. Maybe it’s the rolling green hills of North-Eastern Vermont. Maybe it’s the campus of chapiteau’s that seem to hold some secret knowledge. Knowledge passed down from teacher to student over the years, all soaked into the tent’s cupula. Whatever it is that maintains it’s magic, this place has accepted me back into its arms over the years, in all my different forms. Here’s a countdown of five lessons I learned at my home in the hills, under a big-top.  
 5. Your Comfort Zone is Holding You Back I came to circus with a background in dance. I have a vivid memory of my first year at camp, in acrobatics class. During our warm-up, the coach instructed us to do kicks down the mat with flexed feet. I, a worldly eleven-year-old ballerina, was certain that my coach must be mistaken. How ugly, flexed feet, “Why would I ever?” I thought. So I proceeded to do my prim bâtiments with pointed toes, and was of course instantly corrected by my coach. Now, I could go on and on to my students about how Lu Yi kicks are an effective warm–up and are executed properly with flexed feet. And I meet young Ivy’s who come to Smirkus camp with t...
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Ivy Blake

Ivy Blake is an American wire walker, dancer, and acrobat from New England. With a background in ballet, modern, ballroom, and swing dance, she is a graduate of the professional preparatory program at the School of Acrobatics and New Circus Arts (SANCA, Seattle) and of the full-time training program at ALOFT Circus Arts in Chicago. Ivy is a current student at ARC EN CIRQUE is Chambéry, France, where she specializes in tight-wire and group acrobatics. She is committed to creating a more just world through her art.