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Despite Ringling Bros. Shutdown, The Circus Arts Remain Alive And Well In Vermont

As Ringling Bros. announces it will close, New England Center for Circus Arts in Brattleboro is keeping the art of circus performing alive. The group’s co-founder Elsie Smith (left) works with Cherie Jacque and Miranda Kent on the trapeze. Photo by Howard Weiss-Tisman for VPR

It’s big news when a group like Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus announces that it will close after 146 years. But at the New England Center for Circus Arts in Brattleboro, aspiring circus performers continue to train. And in many ways, the staff there say the future of circus arts has never been brighter.

It’s Monday morning at the New England Center for Circus Arts, or NECCA, and graduates of the program are taking advantage of the open studio.

NECCA is a training school for professional circus artists. Co-founder Elsie Smith is working with two aerialists who are practicing a flip, high up on a single trapeze.

“Good. Better on the up, Miranda,” she says as she helps a performer flip around, locking her legs with a second woman on the trapeze. “Still a little low on the up. Do it again.”

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