Out on a Limb: A circus show

Witness powerful acts of strength and vulnerability, of guts and grace

BRATTLEBORO — It takes guts to be a student in the New England Center for Circus Arts Performance Training Program (ProTrack). Its end-of-year production "Out on a Limb" this weekend highlights that courage as students showcase what they have learned, honing their skills. Thirty-four ProTrack students train in the fundamentals of contemporary circus in NECCA's new Trapezium, 14 of which will present individual acts in a collaborative project with their coaches, on trapeze, partner acrobatics, aerial rope, handstands and more.

The students in this show are second-year students and the first to participate in ProTrack's new three-year, full-time program that allows coaches to spend more time interacting with the students and to address their visions and needs.

The expanded programming in the new Trapezium with more height for swinging and flying trapeze, a trampoline and tramp wall with a foam pit, plus a superior coaching staff allows students to go higher, deeper, and farther.

"What's been lovely this year, is how different the theatrical works are, with higher ceilings, more safety apparatus, students can take risks and gain a higher level of skill," said founder and artistic director Serenity Smith Forchion who is also coaching a partner in an acrobatic act, which she said, "It takes putting yourself 'out on a limb' to do this."

Applying to ProTrack is a highly selective process that requires auditioning and a prerequisite of some experience in circus arts. Even if an applicant is a veteran gymnast it may be a surprise as to what is entailed in circus arts if they have never done any before. If it is deemed the applicant is not ready, he or she may take one of the classes offered at NECCA to further prepare for a future audition.

Once in the program students receive cross-training by choosing a major and a minor in addition to classes in a number of other options such as dance, tumbling, juggling, or partner acrobatics. An evaluation is done every three months to make sure they are meeting goals and progressing.

Creating an act and performing in the end-of-year production is a requirement to prepare them for a career in performance and many previous graduates having gone on to work with Cirque du Soleil, Big Apple Circus, 7 Fingers, Cirque Eloize and Circa as well as European Cabarets, cruise ships, and celebrity tours throughout the world, including Brattleboro's own Eric Allen on the Big Apple Circle in a 7-man pyramid tight wire act with the Wallenda Family,

According to Forchion, to succeed as an artist perform you have to be willing to take a chance. "We support a student who is willing to put themself out there."

Nina Gershy is a second-year student performing this weekend. She majors in aerial rope, and initially minored in Chinese pole but due to an injury switched to flexibility. She said NECCA really worked with her to adjust her classes while she healed. She became hooked on circus arts after a best friend came home from a circus camp juggling and unicycling. It totally clicked she said.

"I am grateful to have the program, especially with the circumstances last summer. They rose from the ashes and are growing. If you are looking to become a professional circus artist, NECCA is the place to go," she said

Forchion said that when she started there were no schools for circus arts. Now there is an increase in access to classes, not just for circus training, but as a fun way to get in shape. She said those interested in a career in circus arts should first take one of the 60 classes they have to offer to see if it a fit for them.

Performance times are Friday, June 8, 7:30 p.m., Saturday, June 9, at 3:30 and 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, June 10, at 1 p.m. in the new Trapezium at 10 Town Crier Drive.

Tickets are $25 VIP, $15 for adults, $10 for youth under 12. To purchase tickets visit necenterforcircusarts.org. For information, call 802-254-9780.


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