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Circus Smirkus to pitch big top tent in Waltham this weekend

Posted by Jaclyn Reiss  July 26, 2012 06:20 PM

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Photo by Robert Sanson

Performers from this year's Circus Smirkus tour include 29 kids, ages 11 to 18. The circus will hold eight shows in Waltham this weekend, starting today.

Area residents can catch any of eight Circus Smirkus shows being performed this weekend, as the non-profit international traveling youth circus will pitch their tent once more in Waltham.

This year's show, entitled "Topsy Turvy Time Travel: A Blast from the Past and Fun from the Future," features 29 kids, ages 11 to 18, hailing all over the country and world. They star on aerials and highwire, as jugglers, acrobats, and clowns.

The circus troupe will perform at Gore Place, 52 Gore St., from today through Sunday. Show times are 12 p.m. and 7 p.m. on today and Friday, 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Saturday, and 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Sunday.

Tickets cost $25 for adults ages 13 and up, $19 for kids ages 2 through 12, and free for kids under 2 years old.

Founded in 1987, Smirkus was the dream of internationally-renowned clown Rob Mermin, who began the program on a former dairy farm in the remote corner of Vermont known as the Northeast Kingdom.

The organization has grown to include a summer camp and a school residency program, and has welcomed coaches and performers from 26 states and 29 countries.

Two troupers on board call Massachusetts home, including returning performer Olivia Saunders, 18, of Acton, and first-timer Remi Sanchez, 16, of Amherst.

This year's troupe hails from nine other states – California, Illinois, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Vermont and Washington – as well as New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

The 2012 Big Top Tour took to the road July 1, with Massachusetts shows in Waltham (July 26 through July 29), Sandwich (July 29 through August 1), Newbury (August 3 and 4) and Revere (August 12 and 13).

In addition to Massachusetts, the Big Top Tour stops in Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Rhode Island, and New York, offering nearly 70 shows in 15 cities and towns.

In its 25 years of existence, Circus Smirkus has performed for celebrities like former President George H.W. Bush and first lady Barbara, Julia Child and Michael J. Fox, and has been featured in publications like The International Herald Tribune, People magazine and The New York Times.

Television coverage has included a 15-part series, "Totally Circus," which aired on the Disney Channel.

The troupe is also the subject of the recently-released documentary "Circus Dreams." The film won awards at festivals around the world, including the Boston International Film Festival in April.

According to Zoe Brookes, a past director of the American Youth Circus Organization, Circus Smirkus has been at the forefront of the growth of youth circus over the last 25 years.

“Smaller programs along the East Coast have been inspired by Circus Smirkus style, and year-round programs send their older students off to camp for more intensive training," Brookes said in a statement. “The Circus Smirkus approach inspires community among the youth it serves."

Tickets for the 2012 Big Top Tour are on sale at 1-877-SMIRKUS (1-877-764-7587) and http://www.smirkus.org, and at select local outlets.

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Follow us on Twitter: @yourtownwaltham, @jaclynreiss

Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at jaclyn.reiss@globe.com

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