One of the fun things about being self-employed is the freedom to take in a noon performance of the circus. Circus Smirkus, in today's case--the Vermont-based, one-ring, no-animal youth circus.
In looking at the program for today's performance, I realized this was the fifteenth year I've seen the show. For a while I enjoyed seeking out Smirkus in a different New England city each year. But I got older, and ran out of cities, so I've settled down and now watch the show nearest my home.
When I first attended, the Smirkus troupe had a wide range of ages and sizes, accentuated that year by a clownish wrestling match between eighteen-year-old Toby Ayer, who had already had his growth and someone else's besides, and twelve-year-old Chris Grabher, who hadn't.
The website still says, "The Troupers range in age from 10 to 18," but now all the troupers appear to be in their mid-to-late teens. The only exceptions were a couple of acrobats from Mongolia and the preschool daughters of ringmaster Troy Wunderle. That creates a different dynamic for the audience.
The star of the first show I watched was Jade Kindar-Martin, so good my friend and I assumed he was one of the visiting Russians. He was clearly headed for higher things. Lately there hasn't really been a standout star. Rather, the troupe works closely together, and most look like ordinary young people doing extraordinary things, like Ben Bond.
This year's performance raised some other thoughts--
- Why hasn't Book Kennison done a juggling solo for the past two years?
- What are these: Hazel, Cat, Lindsay, Sylphie, Kia, Aerial, Ariana, Maddy, Thula, Greylin, and Joy? They're the first names of the young American women in this year's troupe. Do no girls have familiar, girl-next-door names like Katie? Of course one does! I left out Katie Sickels. And of course she's from Bettendorf, Iowa. (Hey, I can make jokes like that; my grandma lives in Pleasant Valley.)
- Not even Taylor Wright-Sanson can make the unicycle look sexy.