REGION – Thirteen-year-old wire walker, clown, acrobat, and aerialist Ariana Wunderle of Rockingham has earned a spot with Circus Smirkus, the country’s only traditional traveling youth circus. When Ariana is not performing with Circus Smirkus in the summer, she continues her training at the New England Center for Circus Arts, Eastern Acrobatics & Circus, the Sellam Circus School, and Le Studio Gymnastics in Westminster, Vermont.
Last fall, Ariana was called for a live audition in January to audition for one of the 30 performing spots on the Big Top Tour. She will travel and work with 29 other performers aged 12 to 18, who represent some of the world’s most exciting young circus talent. This year’s troupers hail from 13 states: California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington, as well as Africa and Canada. Their skills include juggling, wire-walking, clowning, acrobatics, Chinese pole, hula hoop, aerials, and unicycling.
The performers will travel to Greensboro, Vermont, for three weeks of rehearsals at Smirkus headquarters in June, then hit the road for a 67-show tour that touches down in 16 cities and towns in the Northeast over the course of seven weeks. As “Smirkos,” they will join fellow troupers in tasks such as taking care of props, selling tickets and popcorn, and working cooperatively with the professional tent crew, light and sound technicians, equipment riggers, costumer, musicians and others who travel with the one-ring show.
Ariana is part of a true circus family. Ariana’s mother, Sara Wunderle, is the assistant circus operations director for Circus Smirkus and her father, Troy Wunderle, has been Big Top Tour artistic director of Circus Smirkus for 19 years, and served as director of clowning for the Ringling Brothers-Barnum & Bailey Circus. He is also founder of Wunderle’s Big Top Adventures LLC.
Local friends and fans can see Ariana and Circus Smirkus in action, when the circus comes to the Cheshire Fairgrounds in Swanzey, N.H., July 17-18, the Fullington Farm Field in Hanover, N.H., July 20-21, or the Three County Fairgrounds in Northampton, Mass., August 1-2.