Published in the April 22, 2016 edition
MELROSE – Eleven-year-old Hula Hooper Eva Rhinelander of Melrose has earned a coveted spot in Circus Smirkus, the country’s only traditional traveling youth circus. Friends and fans can see Rhinelander – and Circus Smirkus – in action, when the circus comes to Gore Place in Waltham on July 22-25.
Rhinelander demonstrated an interest in Hula Hooping when she was about 8 years old, said her mother, Genevieve, a jewelry designer.
“We took a Hula Hoop class together and Eva really took to it,” Genevieve recalled. “Since then we’ve been practicing in the living room, putting together routines for various performances.”
Over the last year, Rhinelander has been taking Rhythmic Gymnastics, combining her love of Hula Hoop with gymnastics and dance.
Rhinelander first learned about the Vermont-based circus when a friend suggested she look into Circus Smirkus Summer Camp.
“She loves to perform and has been trying various circus skills,” said her father Ned. “We thought camp would be a great way to learn more about circus.”
More recently, Rhinelander has been taking classes at Aircraft Aerial Arts and Esh Circus Arts in Somerville.
Last fall, Rhinelander submitted an audition tape to Smirkus headquarters in Greensboro, Vt. and was called for a live audition in January. She and 29 other performers ages 11 to 18 were selected for the 2016 Big Top Tour. The performers will travel to Greensboro for three weeks of rehearsals at Smirkus headquarters in June, then hit the road on June 25 for a 66-show tour that touches down in 16 cities and towns in the Northeast.
“Life on the road promises to be both fun and exhausting,” says Rhinelander.
As a “Smirko,” Rhinelander will join her fellow troupers in doing such tasks as taking care of props, selling tickets and popcorn and working cooperatively with the tent crew, light and sound technicians, equipment riggers, costumer, musicians and others who travel with the one-ring show. But the payoff, she says, is the opportunity to spend the summer with teens from all parts of the country and the world, bringing their love of circus to each performance.
This year’s troupers hail from 12 other states: California, Illinois, Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia and Washington. Troupers’ skills include juggling, wire-walking, clowning, acrobatics, rola bola, Hula Hoop, aerials and unicycling and acts involving the diabolo, trapeze and lyra.
Over the years, Circus Smirkus has become known for its theme-based and “story” shows. Themes have included chefs, pirates, the Wild West and superheroes, while stories have included original circus versions of Alice Through the Looking Glass and Pinocchio. This year’s tour continues the tradition of theme-based shows with Up, HUP and Away: The Invention of Flight.
When Rhinelander is not clowning around with the circus, she is a student at Melrose Veterans Memorial Middle School, where she will enter sixth grade in September. She excels in school and is looking forward to making the transition from elementary school to the middle school.
“I like school and I like dance,” said Rhinelander. “But my real love is circus.”
For information and tickets, visit www.smirkus.org or call 877-Smirkus (877-764-7587) or e-mail [email protected].