New England Center for Circus Arts (NECCA) Students Win Top Prizes in Las Vegas
New England Center for Circus Arts (NECCA), the leading circus arts training center in the nation, is creating employment opportunities for aspiring aerialists, acrobats, jugglers, clowns and more. Each year, NECCA sponsors a graduate to attend VIVA Fest, an international circus gathering and competition based in Las Vegas. This year, in addition to the sponsored student who received financial support to attend, eight other aspiring circus professionals from NECCA were accepted into VIVA Fest to compete in the Emerging Pro category, and they all placed in their disciplines. Another opportunity for aspiring circus artists at NECCA is auditioning for top producers like AIDA Cruise lines. On March 23, the company will send an audition team to audition NECCA students as well as invited auditionees from the region. Within the same week, NECCA will host 30 prospective students and their families from all over the country to audition for its three-year pre-professional program ProTrack.
As the leading circus arts training center in the US, the New England Center for Circus Arts is hard at work creating employment opportunities for aspiring aerialists, acrobats, jugglers, clowns, and more.
Each year, NECCA sponsors a recent graduate to attend the VIVA Fest, an international circus gathering and competition based in Las Vegas. This year, an additional eight other aspiring circus professionals from NECCA were also accepted into VIVA Fest to compete in the Emerging Pro category. NECCA co-founders and on-staff coaches Elsie Smith and Serenity Smith Forchion attended the festival to support their performers. In addition, they were invited to serve as judges in other categories and host workshops with the competitors, who numbered in the hundreds from as far away as Japan.
These eight student competitors all placed in their categories, including Julian McTaggart, who grew up in Brattleboro and found circus through NECCA when he took a trampoline class at the custom-built Trapezium. McTaggart won the overall VivaFest Emerging Pro award, which is given to the top competitor from all apparatus categories. Other awards received were:
- Julian McTaggart, Emerging Aerial Straps A, 1st place & overall Emerging Pro winner
- Kalista Russel, Emerging Aerial Hoop C, 1st place & CircusTalk Award
- Elly Craig, Emerging Cyr Wheel, 2nd place
- Eliza Gaston, Emerging Aerial Hoop B, 2nd place
- Caitlin Wallace, Emerging Dance Trapeze, 3rd place
- Joelle Nye, Emerging Invented Apparatus, 4th place
- Bailey Scherer, Emerging Dance Trapeze, 5th place
- Megan Gimnig, Emerging Dance Trapeze, 7th place
Other competitors who have trained at NECCA in the past:
- Jessica Waters, Emerging Aerial Silks A, 1st place; Emerging Straps, 2nd place
- Doug Stewart, Emerging Rope, 2nd place
Sponsored competitor Elly Craig says about their experience, “Working with my coach, Serenity, to make something I am really proud of is a gift that I will carry with me for a long time. I grew and learned so much as a performer through this experience.”
Another opportunity for aspiring circus artists at NECCA is auditioning for top producers such as AIDA Cruise Lines. On March 23, the company will send an audition team to audition NECCA students as well as other performers invited from throughout the region. Circus performers are part of AIDA’s onboard entertainment for cruises in North America, Europe, and the Middle East. “It’s important for myself and other staff who worked for Cirque du Soleil and other top producers to connect our students to their first career opportunity when they graduate,” says NECCA Executive Director Jenna Struble. “Our first priority is ensuring they have employment after graduation, and hosting auditions like AIDA’s is important to this goal.”
Within the same week, NECCA is hosting 30 prospective students and their families from all over the country on March 22 and 23 here in Brattleboro, Vermont. Auditionees will meet the NECCA Team and share their skills and ambitions to build a career as a professional circus performer. Students are evaluated on their physical skills, creativity, and artistic expression, as well as their professionalism and their teamwork.
Elena Day, NECCA’s ProTrack director and formerly a lead character on Cirque du Soleil’s La Nouba, shares: “Having the opportunity to meet the next generation of circus artists at our live auditions is always an exciting time! Once accepted to NECCA’s ProTrack Program, students have the opportunity to work with career coaches, whose depth of experience and connections in the field is profound.” Day points to the opportunities of VivaFest and AIDA auditions and concludes, “Attending NECCA’s ProTrack Program is a surefire way to launch your circus career.”
Main Image: (left to right) Kalista Russel, Julian McTaggart, and Eliza Gaston