By Lori Szepelak
HOLYOKE – Cameron Zweir is poised to have “the best summer ever” as he soon embarks on the Circus Smirkus Big Top Tour.
Circus Smirkus, Vermont’s award-winning international youth circus, chooses 30 teen performers, ages 10 to 18, each summer from around the globe to tour the Northeast in its European-made Big Top tent. This year’s troupers reside in nine states – California, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont and Texas and internationally from Mexico.
At 15, Zweir is a natural for this adventure, according to his parents, Kathy Zweir and Susan Crowell.
“Cameron began doing gymnastics when he was about 4 years old, and he used to love to flip off the couch in our playroom, so we figured he may as well learn how to do his flipping safely,” Zweir said.
While Cameron travels to 15 venues throughout the Northeast from June 29 through Aug. 16, his parents will not be far away.
“We plan to see Cameron occasionally during the tour when we travel to some of the shows,” Crowell said. “When Circus Smirkus makes a stop in Northampton, we plan to have him and hopefully a few more ‘Smirkos’ (circus troupers) staying with us at that time.”
Zweir is a student at Holyoke Catholic High School, where he will enter his junior year in September. He is also involved with the Unicycling & Juggling Club and the Outdoor Adventure Club at school. He has taken classes at Show Circus Studio in Easthampton in preparation for the Circus Smirkus tour.
“The skills that I am bringing to Circus Smirkus are mainly my 10 years of gymnastics training,” Cameron said, adding he has been a member of Daggett’s Gold Medal Gym for the past five years, specializing in tumbling and trampoline.
“This will help me to perform acrobatics with Circus Smirkus,” he said.
Over the years, Circus Smirkus has become known for its theme-based and “story” shows. This summer, the theme is “Anchors Away for Atlantis,” exploring the vast ocean in all of its beauty and mystery – above and below the surface.
Cameron, an acrobat and tumbler, admits that life on the road promises to be “both fun and exhausting.” As a “Smirko,” he will participate in a variety of tasks including taking care of props, selling tickets and popcorn, and learning the behind-the-scenes techniques of the light and sound technicians, equipment riggers, costumer, musicians and others.
“The payoff,” he noted, is being surrounded by other teens from all parts of the country and the world who will bring their love of circus to each performance.
“My expectations for this experience are that it will be very tiring and will involve a lot of hard work, but will be a ton of fun as well,” he said.
Circus goers will be entertained by jugglers, wire-walkers, clowns, acrobats, and unicyclers, as well as acts involving the diabolo, trapeze, cradle, Spanish web and lyra.
Both Kathy and Crowell noted it has been an “adjustment” to think of their son going away for the summer on this adventure.
“We feel it is such a wonderful opportunity that we could not keep him from it,” Crowell said.
Kathy echoed those sentiments.
“We expect it to be a great chance for him to grow and mature; and also to have a summer filled with new and exciting experiences,” she said.
Even though Cameron still has two more years of high school, he is also looking ahead to the future.
“After high school I plan to go off to college for something in the multimedia department,” he said. “Hopefully video editing, stunt doubling, acting, or all three. Right now I’m looking forward to a great summer with Circus Smirkus. I think it will be the best summer ever.”
For more information on the Circus Smirkus tour, visit www.smirkus.org
or call 877-764-7587.