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Circus arts a crowd pleaser at fair

Seen on the midway at the 2013 Franklin County Fair

  • GREENFIELD (September 7, 2013) — Bridget Lowry of Sunderland strikes a pose from a trapeze high above the midfield at the 165th Franklin County Fair. Lowry, a student at the New England Center for Circus Arts in Brattleboro, performed at the fair on Saturday. Recorder/Trish Crapo

    GREENFIELD (September 7, 2013) — Bridget Lowry of Sunderland strikes a pose from a trapeze high above the midfield at the 165th Franklin County Fair. Lowry, a student at the New England Center for Circus Arts in Brattleboro, performed at the fair on Saturday. Recorder/Trish Crapo

  • GREENFIELD (September 7, 2013) — "Bucket for five, three for ten, come on in, play to win!" the barker hollers while Luke Webb, 11, of Greenfield tries his hand at the Ring-a-Bottle game on the midway at the Franklin County Fair on Saturday. Recorder/Trish Crapo

    GREENFIELD (September 7, 2013) — "Bucket for five, three for ten, come on in, play to win!" the barker hollers while Luke Webb, 11, of Greenfield tries his hand at the Ring-a-Bottle game on the midway at the Franklin County Fair on Saturday. Recorder/Trish Crapo

  • GREENFIELD (September 7, 2013) — Anna Mansfield, 5, of Leeds, MA peers out from a gondola on the nearly 100-foot-high Gentle Giant ferris wheel at the Franklin County Fair on Saturday. "It's like being in the sky!" she called out. Dad Mike Mansfield said, of the ride, "She liked it more than I did." Recorder/Trish Crapo

    GREENFIELD (September 7, 2013) — Anna Mansfield, 5, of Leeds, MA peers out from a gondola on the nearly 100-foot-high Gentle Giant ferris wheel at the Franklin County Fair on Saturday. "It's like being in the sky!" she called out. Dad Mike Mansfield said, of the ride, "She liked it more than I did." Recorder/Trish Crapo

  • GREENFIELD (September 7, 2013) — Bridget Lowry of Sunderland strikes a pose from a trapeze high above the midfield at the 165th Franklin County Fair. Lowry, a student at the New England Center for Circus Arts in Brattleboro, performed at the fair on Saturday. Recorder/Trish Crapo
  • GREENFIELD (September 7, 2013) — "Bucket for five, three for ten, come on in, play to win!" the barker hollers while Luke Webb, 11, of Greenfield tries his hand at the Ring-a-Bottle game on the midway at the Franklin County Fair on Saturday. Recorder/Trish Crapo
  • GREENFIELD (September 7, 2013) — Anna Mansfield, 5, of Leeds, MA peers out from a gondola on the nearly 100-foot-high Gentle Giant ferris wheel at the Franklin County Fair on Saturday. "It's like being in the sky!" she called out. Dad Mike Mansfield said, of the ride, "She liked it more than I did." Recorder/Trish Crapo

GREENFIELD — The familiar Shriners clowns joyously romping through the midway at the Franklin County Fair weren’t the only “circus” presence at this year’s fair.

This weekend, the New England Center for Circus Arts pitched an aerial rig on the infield, showcasing student performances at the fair for the first time.

The center’s eight half-hour performances gave circus-arts students a chance to put together solo performances and hear an audience’s reaction to it.

Bridget Lowry, 16, of Sunderland was one of Saturday’s performers on the aerial swing. Dressed in a tailored suit jacket, shorts and tights, she did a jazzy set of acrobatics on the giant round swing.

Lowry said she’s been studying circus arts for 10 years and performing for six. According to her mother, Lowry practices about six hours per week.

Yenna May, 14, of Guilford, Vt., defines her acrobatic tumbling as “controsion” instead of “contortion.” Among her skills, she can roll forward on her stomach, arching her legs back above her head, and land on her feet.

“A lot of stuff done in circus arts is about doing a lot of ‘accidents’ that turn out to be gorgeous,” Yenna says. “I’ve always been able to put my feet over my head. I was home-schooled and mom brought me (to the circus arts school) for physical education. They really push you — but in the best way,” she said.

Faith Dunford, 28, of Walpole, N.H., said she is a former dancer who had gymnastic experience as a kid. “I like circus arts. I find it’s much more self-confidence-building. It’s not competitive; you only have to do better than yourself.”

Dunford said she likes that fact that there’s no cut-off age for circus arts. “It’s not age-based,” she said. “I have been very inspired by 40- and 50-year-olds here.”

The Brattleboro, Vt.-based circus arts school was founded in 2007 by Elsie Smith and Serenity Smith Forchion, twins who have performed with Cirque du Soleil’s Saltimbanco, Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey, and other groups.

Tony Duncan, one of the school’s instructors and a 35-year veteran of circus arts, said the fair shows have been drawing audiences of between 100 to 200 people each.

“It’s really great promotion for the school, and for circus arts in general,” he said. “It’s also a great opportunity for our students to try out their performances before a crowd and see what works.”

Online information about the school is available at: www.necenterforcircusarts.org

You can reach Diane Broncaccio at:
dbronc@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 277

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