FYI Vol. III, No. 5

Young Circus Star Shows That America’s Got Talent

Christina Stoinev, who grew up on the Big Apple Circus where his parents were long-time members of the staff, has advanced on the TV show America’s Got Talent.  He is now one of forty-seven finalists who will perform live on the stage of the Radio City Music Hall.  The show airs on Tuesday nights.  Stoinev has a varied repertoire of acts that he can do, which has helped him overcome the disadvantage other circus artists have faced on the program, where the artists are expected to show different sides of their talent.  All a singer has to do is change his song, for circus artists this presents a distinct challenge, which Stoinev seems to have, at least temporarily, overcome.

 Lifetime Achievement in Circus Education Award Names First Honoree

The Circus Educators Association (ACE) a branch of the American Youth Circus Organization (AYCO) (AYCO) has named Master Lu Yi  of San Francisco’s Circus Center as the first recipient of its Lifetime Achievement Award.  Before emigrating to America, Lu Yi spent thirty-three years as a member of China’s Nanjing Acrobatic Troupe.  In 1990 he was persuaded to join what is now know as the Circus Center and was named its Founding Artistic Director.  Under his leadership the Circus Center has been built into one of the country’s best training centers for young performers, many of whom have gone on to win places in prestigious circuses, schools and touring companies around the world.

The award will be presented at the 2014 Circus Educators Conference which will be held at and co-produced by the National Circus School in Montreal, Canada.  The conference will run from August 28 to September 1.

 Circus Smirkus Takes a Giant Step

Circus Smirkus, Vermont’s renown youth circus has purchased a 135-year-old farmhouse and barn on thirty-five acres in Greensboro, VT with plans to build a permanent home for the Smirkus Camp.  The existing facilities on the property will be remodeled and construction on new dormitories will allow the circus’ summer camp to bring over 600 campers to the Northeast Kingdom each summer to learn the art of taking a pie in the face, along with other circus skills.  The company is especially thrilled because the new facility will allow it to bring the Smirkus Camp back to Greensboro, just eight miles from its world headquarters and the well known Big Top Tour in 2015, just in time for the camp’s 25th anniversary.

Forty-five years ago Smirkus founder Rob Mermin ran away to join the circus seeking a life of adventure.  “Today we are creating a home for kids to follow in his footsteps,” says Ed LeClair, the company’s Executive Director.  “We are thrilled to be doing so in the Northeast Kingdom in Greensboro which has welcomed Smirkus for the past twenty-seven years.”

 Venice’s Abandoned Circus Arena Draws the Interest of Various Developers

Three different groups want to lease land surrounding the former circus arena and operate businesses that would improve the southern entrance to the city.  Among those presenting proposals to the city council are Tito Gaona who wants to continue operating his Flying Trapeze Academy there.  His project requires less than an acre of the eleven acre property.  He has been running a flying trapeze school for the past twelve years and would like to continue in Venice.

The proposal that seems least connected to the space’s past comes from the Venice Circus Adventure Golf company which wants to build a 36-hole miniature gold course and arcade.  The proposed course would be circus-themed and an arcade in the octagon-shaped building would serve  circus-type food, all of which seems to be a bit of a stretch to connect to the city’s circus history.

The third proposal comes from the Venice Circus Arts Foundation which wants to form a for-profit business to rebuild the arena for use as a sports and entertainment venue on 1.4 acres of the property.  This would be accomplished in two phases.  The first calls for an open-air pavilion.  Then, as money becomes available, the arena will be completely renovated.  Initial revenue for the work would come from an offering of 20,000 shares of stock at $100 a share.

 Unicycles Takes to the Trails

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The past June 14 and 15, the single track trails of Beebe Hill Forest in Austerlitz, NY were filled with thirty-one  unicycle riders, ranging in age from nine to sixty-two coming from four states to test their skills on the spectacular and scenic trails.  The Empire State Mountain Unicycle Festival was produced by Chattham Unicycle Club, the Hell on Wheels Gang and the Bindlestiff Family Variety Arts.  All of the participants are members of the Unicycle Society of America.

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