Elsie Smith and her identical twin sister, Serenity Smith Forchion, were seemingly born to fly. She and her sister began their careers in the circus arts at a young age and started teaching others early too.
After years of practice, performing and teaching, the two landed in Brattleboro in 2003 and co-founded The New England Center for Circus Arts in an incubator space. The center is now the largest and most comprehensive circus arts training school in the United States.
Smith recently spoke to VPR about the not-for-profit New England Center for Circus Arts' humble beginnings and its place amidst its beloved southern Vermont community.
Smith said she and her sister grew the company in The Cotton Mill, the incubator space that helped the circus arts organization become the center it is today: One that has just broken ground on a brand new facility in the north of town.
Since its inception in 2003, Smith said the circus arts center's mission has been to engage all ages and all ability levels in its programs. After being cultivated in The Cotton Mill as a not-for-profit that invites the community in to its vibrant and rich arts culture and creates jobs, this past September, The New England Center for Circus Arts broke ground on a brand new building set to open in April 2017.
The Cotton Mill continues to incubate small businesses as well as serve as a major hub in southern Vermont for artists and craftspeople to work in their studios.
The incubator space will hold its 18th Annual Cotton Mill Open Studio and Holiday Sale on Friday, Dec. 2 through Sunday, Dec. 4 with three floors full of music, food, performances, demonstrations and artisans' works for sale.