NECCA Sisters Fuse Business Savvy, Circus Thrills

Vermont Arts Living

By Jon Potter
Photos by Jeffrey M. Lewis

Balance is a core value at a school whose curriculum boasts Trapeze, Teeterboard, and Acrobatics, and whose students are often found 10 feet off the ground, swinging from bars, beams, and fabrics.

But for Elsie Smith and Serenity Smith Forchion, identical twins and co-founders of the New England Center for Circus Arts in Brattleboro, commitment to balance is as important to business plans as it is to circus acts. And that, as a famous New Englander once said, has made all the difference.

No strangers to the limelight, Elsie and Serenity spent four years touring with Cirque du Soleil’s Saltimbanco and also performed with Ringling Bros. & Barnum & Bailey Circus, Circus of the Kids, the New Pickle Circus, Pilobolus, and more, winning awards in China and Spain for their spinning duo trapeze act and winning fans and accolades everywhere else.

And they have also earned respect and admiration for their business savvy. Quite frankly, it’s a hard choice as to which type of praise means more.

“I think it depends on the day and the person,” says Elsie, who serves as artistic director of NECCA, which she and her sister established in 2007 and which has grown, appropriately enough, by leaps and bounds. Blossoming since the days of that initial class, NECCA this year will educate 6,000 students aged 18 months to more than 80 years. Their experience ranges from raw beginner to seasoned circus professional revealing a world of wonder in between.

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