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Circus Smirkus brings family fun to Wilbraham

WILBRAHAM Circus Smirkus, the award-winning international youth circus, will perform July 11 at 1 and 7 p.m. and July 12 at 2 and 7 p.m. at Spec Pond on Boston Road. Tickets are $18 for adults; $14 for children under 12; and free for children under two. Tickets are available at the Scantic Valley YMCA in Wilbraham, Mall Services Office at Eastfield Mall or by calling 1-877-SMIRKUS.

Praised by the New York Times, the Boston Globe and Family Fun Magazine, Circus Smirkus is the only American youth circus to put on a full-season tour under its own big top a 750-seat, one-ring tent. Thirty teen stars, ages 14 to 19, from all parts of the country and the world will perform at the four shows in Wilbraham.

Circus Smirkus will continue the tradition of theme-based tours with its scientific extravaganza called Smirkusology. The story revolves around an innovative team of quirky, crackerjack scientists, attempting to formulate the chemical compound of circus. From molecular contortions to astrological proportions, they create it all: electrified acrobats, anti-gravity aerialists and gyroscopic jugglers.

Over the years, Smirkus has received accolades from critics all over the world. Circus trade magazine Spectacle described Smirkus at a "level of skill that often matches any professional company [and] put it in a class by itself." The New York Times praised Smirkus performances: "One remembers the applause, echoing off the tent walls. It was loud, happy, foot-stomping applause" and "Extraordinary troupe with a serious commitment to the circus arts, a show that brings standing room only audiences to their feet ... more art than extravaganza, more spirit than spectacle."

The Boston Globe commended Smirkus as "one of New England's most treasured cultural and educational resources." Family Fun Magazine put Smirkus in their top list as "one of America's best circuses." Marcel Marceau broke his silence to say, "What Circus Smirkus is doing is an absolutely wonderful task: to bring children hope for the future, to create an entirely new form of circus and make it universal."

In 2000, the Disney Channel filmed and ran a 14 show series about Smirkus called "Totally Circus." Martha Stewart and Fantasy Camp have both done programs about Smirkus and Smirkus performers have been guests on Jay Leno, David Letterman and America's Most Talented Kids.

The program is presented by the Wilbraham Hampden Academic Trust (W.H.A.T.) Inc., an autonomous, non-profit organization that raises funds to provide innovative, educational and enriching programs in the Hampden-Wilbraham School District. W.H.A.T. provides grants for programs and projects that go beyond the traditional and required curriculum.