Highlights from the highwire!

These past 2 years have been absolutely incredible in every way. Being on tour with Circus Smirkus has allowed me to follow my dreams of running away with the circus. My fellow castmates are more like family than friends. The circus ring is my true north, my “home” and when I step in that ring, I feel more alive than anywhere else in the world!

Here is a small snapshot of my performances on tour:

Highwire Hannah 2016-2017 Tour Highlight Reel

All video credits: Andy Bell

It’s always better when you land on the balance beam!

First meet of the season! Super excited to show of my awesome new skills that I have been working incredibly hard on for the last 3 months since returning from tour.  When I am not touring with Smirkus, I am a USAG Level 9 competitive gymnast.

Our first meet is a home meet that our gym hosts.  Since the Level 10 gymnasts will finish the meet on the floor, the level 9’s are required to start on beam.  You see, if you didn’t know it, the rotational order of a meet is in alphabetical order – Bars, Beam, Floor, Vault.  The L10’s started on vault so they would end on floor (always a crowd fave), therefore the L 9’s had to start on Beam – since we’re the next highest level. 🙂

Beam has historically been my best event, earning me several state championship titles and in our gym, I have been referred to as the “beam queen” a time or two.  I walk on a 1″ wire, performing on a 4″ beam should be a breeze, right?  Not so much, lol.

At this meet, one of my big moments in a series is a back tuck on beam.  During warm ups, I was actually warming up a different series and felt myself go a little “off” so instead of continuing through, I decided I would warm up my back tuck just….”one more time”.  You know the old saying that you should never do something just one more time?  Proved to be true once again.  I missed my landing entirely with one foot and caught my other foot on the beam bending it in half breaking my tibia at the growth plate. 😦

4-6 weeks recovery they said……because of the extreme nature of my sports, they are being extremely cautious so that I do not stress or reinjure the bone quickly so I am in a boot non-weight bearing.  Totally sucks!  I had plans to participate with Smirkus at First Night and this was the very first meet of the year, which means that my competition season is cut incredibly short and my chances of qualifying to compete at the state and/or regional meets is reduced every day I am wearing this boot.

Sooooo, if you’re reading this……and you’re a gymnast……it’s always better to land on the beam and never, ever do something just “one more time”. 🙂

❤ Hannah


Packing, practicing and praying!

Have you ever had to pack for 10 weeks? Three of those weeks, I’ll be at Smirkus headquarters and the next 7 weeks, on tour. So, I have to be prepared for all kinds of weather and be able to grab and go.As a first year trouper, I am sure I am packing waaay too much however, I’d rather have it and not need it than to want it and have left it at home. I am like my mom though, I have “tetris brain” and we are crafty packers, lol!

And while I have my big brother, Xander, here to spot me, I am spending some time practicing a few last minute skills. Besides, I just want to have some hang time with him anyway. Thanks Xander, I love you. I am glad you were able to help me learn a cartwheel on the wire.

We’ll be leaving tomorrow. Say a prayer for us for safe travels and an awesome summer. I’ll be updating every day that I have internet. Keep checking back or click the link to follow me. Thanks for all your support!

❤ Hannah

Ever been to roller derby?

Cyrus the Swordsman and I were invited to be the halftime show for a roller derby bout,the Rail City Roller Girls. It was a great experience and a lot of fun to be asked to perform especially since my mom was a former derby girl herself. I have countless memories of hanging out on the side of the rink while she practiced and really came to love the sport myself. I even had my own name picked out, Cookies and Scream. Thank you to Cyrus for teaching me new skills and teaching me not to be afraid to pull a sword out of his throat.


Monday Makeover – girl power

Who likes to use power tools? Can I tell you something? I HATE sanding but I love using powers tools for like chopping and cutting and stuff.. I spent almost 5 hours overall sanding this piece because of all the details and things I had to fill and well because it was my first time using the power sander. I think I did well.

I actually finished the piece off with 4″ casters, a paper towel bar on one side and 3 towel hooks on the opposite side. Oh and the drawer faces are all black with silver knobs. I couldn’t find my finished photo, I’ll have to keep looking.  What do you think?

Need a custom piece of your own? Mother’s Day is coming up. Call me.

❤ Hannah

The nightmares in your head…

At Smirkus summer camp last year (2015) the end of season performance was “The end of the world as we know it” and all performances were based on everyone’s biggest fears, i.e. being afraid of the ocean, afraid of being alone, afraid of the dark, etc.

In this performance, my group’s fear was the fear of spiders…..ewwww, how many of you have a fear of spiders? I don’t really care personally but both my brothers can’t stand them so I have to go catch and remove them or my brothers tend to act like girls if I don’t.  Silly boys!

Hope you enjoy this little performance. I’ll be adding lots more videos and photos from the last 4 years so that you can see my humble beginnings.

❤ Hannah

p.s. I am on the lower wire to the left first (girl in braids with back to you) and then on the middle wire at the end doing the straddle split. 🙂

A Big Top Dream…

In 2008, a dream was sparked and imaginations ignited with a simple 6th birthday gift, a trip to see Cirque du Soleil’s performance of Kooza.  The performance was held under the grand Chapiteau where every seat gives you that breathtaking feeling that everyone is in the front row. As the performers twisted and turned, balanced and contorted, a flexible young gymnast saw something that night that most only can envision in their dreams. This was her future. She very much needed to be a part of this very fluid, artistic and ethereal kind of life. A dream was born.

As parents, her father and I kind of silently chuckled at this preposterous notion. “That’s adorable you silly girl” we secretly said to each other. As the days passed and the dream silently continued to grow, she would practice for many days trying to perfect a few moves that the contortionists did in the show. While we were amazed and captivated by her flexibility and desire to “run away with the circus”, we did nothing.

Fast forward 3 1/2 years later and a move to a small mountain town 3000 miles from our home in a largely populated metropolis, she spoke again of this big top dream. Within a week of reigniting the conversation, we happened to be channel surfing and by what seemed to be the world demanding we, as parents, listen to our child, the remote strangely stopped on PBS. A documentary style show from the creators of Circus Smirkus was in the first couple of minutes of an hour long program. We all stopped what we were doing to watch. Say what? There really is a place out there in the circus world for youth? Oh wait, there are MANY youth circus programs we learned all over the country, including where we had just moved from. Silly parents, why had we not listened?

After watching the documentary, we piled around the computer to check out the Circus Smirkus organization. Again, instantly, we watched our 9 year old daughter’s eyes grow with delight and her heart swell with a passion for this amazing art form. After checking out the company and realizing that this truly was a legit and passionate non profit that dedicated itself to enriching the lives of young people like our daughter; as parents, we were now buying in to what Hannah was selling.

At this point it is now the summer of 2011, Hannah is a competitive Level 5 gymnast with ZERO circus training and/or experience. After watching the video, we asked one of her very adventurous coaches if he would train her in the circus arts. He also had zero training or experience. Together, we purchased “how-to” manuals and grassroots training began.

At Smirkus, they do have summer camp programs but she had her eye on their golden ticket…..their summer youth troupe for kids ages 10-18. Auditions are done in a multi level process, you must submit a 5-6 minute video introducing yourself, showing off your skills and then include a short piece of your performance art. If Smirkus likes what they see, you get an invitation to live auditions so they can see you in person to make sure you’re the real deal.  Hundreds of kids send in video auditions, however only approx. 40 kids make it to the live auditions, and from there approx. 28-30 kids make it on to their 10 week summer traveling circus tour.

Again, with zero experience, we put together the best audition video tape we could to ensure that they could see her raw determination. Instead of aerial silks, we only had climbing rope. Instead of a trapeze, we had a gymnastics high bar. We faked it til we made it and what do you know? They invited her to live tour auditions. This began our twice a year journey from SW Virginia to Vermont to fulfill these circus aspirations. Year one, no to summer tour. Invitation to advanced circus camp. Year two. Decided to try the National Cirque School summer camp in Montreal instead. Year three. Smirkus again said no at live auditions. Year four. Smirkus said no at the live auditions. But something was different this year, 2016.

Live auditions are held in January, notifications are sent out the following week. When the answer was once again no, honestly, she did shed a tear or two but only for a moment. No matter what the results, her positive attitude and fierce determination did not let her down. She was going back next year for a 4th try! So proud of our girl. In mid March, just a couple weeks back, the phone rang and a Vermont number showed up on caller ID. Was it another telemarketer? I almost didn’t answer the phone and it certainly didn’t cross my mind that it might be Smirkus calling.

Much to my chagrin, I answered prepared to hang up on the relentless marketing calls we receive. The voice on the other end however, was much too familiar, I had heard this voice many times over the years, it was the Director of the Circus Smirkus Summer Tour! Turns out that a casting change was needed and Hannah was on the first alternate list.  She finally made it. She turned those dreams into realities and all those no’s into one great big YES.

Check out the amazing award-winning youth circus organization provided by Circus Smirkus HERE.

Here is her PERMAGRIN the moment she found out she was accepted onto tour this year:

Kim & Bob