Seriously clowning around: Yarmouth student returns to Freeport with Circus Smirkus

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FREEPORT — Sarah Norden has been working hard all summer and is finally getting a chance to come home.

The 17-year-old Yarmouth resident has been touring with Circus Smirkus since the end of June and will be performing with the Vermont-based troupe in Freeport next week. The Big Top Tour will perform Aug. 2 and 3 at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. at the Maine Coast Waldorf School, 57 Desert Road.

This is the second year Norden, a senior at Maine Coast Waldorf School, has toured with the summer circus camp. The group of 30 performers, ages 11-18, are putting on 66 shows in 16 cities.

“Being on tour is really fun because you get to travel around and see new places,” Norden said in a telephone interview from Shrewsbury, Massachusetts. “It’s also a lot of work because there’s always a show, but it’s rewarding work.”

Norden, who specializes in aerial and lyra hoop acts as well as clowning, has been attending the Circus Smirkus summer camp for 10 years.

“I decided to go to camp because I saw one of Smirkus’ shows and was absolutely in awe,” she said.

Flexibility comes natural to Norden, she said, and she also trains intensively. Circus Smirkus only trains during the summer, so during the rest of the year, Norden trains at Circus Maine in Portland. She said she goes five to six days a week for two hours each day and practices at home as well.

While on tour, practice is almost non-stop for Norden and the rest of the troupe.

“We’re always seeking to improve the show and bring it to its highest potential,” she said.

Aside from the performers pushing each other to do their best, Norden said the members in her troupe have become some of her closest friends.

“I really like being in such a supportive, fun community,” she said.

Norden said she loves the circus and is torn between going to college or going to circus school after high school. She said performing is her passion.

“I love the feeling of giving lots of output and energy to the audience and then having them applaud and the input they give back,” she said.

Because she has done so many performances, Norden said she’s become used to being in front of large crowds.

“I don’t get too nervous, but sometimes I get a feeling in my stomach like a surge of energy,” she said.

Having the tour stop at her school, though, creates a different scenario. Norden said she is slightly nervous about her upcoming performance in front of so many friends and family members.

“It’s a really fascinating experience because it’s a clash of two worlds,” she said. “It’s really gratifying to perform for them, but it’s also bizarre.”

Tickets for the Freeport performances can be bought online at smirkus.org, over the phone at 1-800-SMIRKUS, or in person at Royal River Natural Foods in Freeport. Tickets are $21 for adults and $18 for seniors and kids ages 2-12. Children under 2 are free.

Norden expects a lot of people in the Freeport audience will know her, and she said she’s excited for them to see her perform.

“They’re all supportive and congratulatory, and it’s fun to be able to see them,” she said.

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or kgardner@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.

Sarah Norden, of Yarmouth, is touring with Smirkus Circus and will be performing at Maine Coast Waldorf School in Freeport, where she is a high school senior, on Aug. 2 and 3.Yarmouth resident Sarah Norden, 17, is touring with Circus Smirkus this summer for the second time as a performer specializing in aerial and lyra acts as well as clowning.

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I'm a reporter for The Forecaster covering Freeport, Yarmouth, Chebeague Island, and Cape Elizabeth. I'm from a small town in NH no one's ever heard of. When not reporting, I can be found eating pasta and reading books, often at the same time.