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The Nimble Arts Method

The Nimble Arts 'method' begins with the simple concept - that we work with the heart first and then the body. Then that each person learns differently & has different physical abilities.  Then that we adjust the experience accordingly.

 

It follows that we:      

  • teach a culture of safety (everyone is involved with creating a safe environment)

  • give a sense of security (work at your own comfort level/pace)

  • encourage self-assessment (listen to your body)

  • allow self-determination (needs of the student pre-empt the goals of the teacher)

We look forward to sharing.

Serenity is in a back balance on the trapeze with Elsie suspended leg to leg below her.

About Elsie & Serenity

Nimble Arts is a creative circus production company founded by identical twins Serenity Smith Forchion and Elsie Smith. They are award winning performing who work as performers, teachers, directors, dramaturgs, riggers, and are often engaged as artist and company consultants - from fixing technique to advice on marketing and much more in between.

Their journey began as farm kids in rural Massachusetts where they were comfortable climbing trees, chopping wood, and wrangling animals. They had no formal physical training and discovered circus when they were 16 years old at a resort where their mother was attending a medical convention.  There was a flying trapeze open for swings, and after a few days of watching others step up, the two egged each other on and tried it themselves, thrilling at the fun of it and discovering a natural flexibility, attention to form, and attraction to the physical artistry. 

Fast forward to age 18, after a year of university where both had academic scholarships, and the sisters were in search of a summer job. They found one at Frenchwoods Festival of the Performing Arts Camp as counselors assigned to the circus department.  By the end of the summer they had learned how to build trapezes, spot aerials, base trick roller skating, hold safety lines for flying trapeze, and wrangle 100 kids into a circus show every 2 weeks.  

At the end of the summer, Elsie moved to Canada and became a Certified Trampoline coach, and Serenity went back to college.  But a few months later when a circus friend recommended her for an opening on Ringling Bros. & Barnum and Bailey, she 'took a year off' to perform as a dancer, aerialist and elephant rider.

By 1992, Serenity had taken another contract touring Japan for a year with the America Circus, then moved to San Francisco for a contract with the Pickle Family Circus. She was part of the founding of the Circus Center from the seeds of the Pickle Family Circus School, where she learned handstands and partner acrobatics with Master Lu Yi.

In 1995, Elsie also moved to San Francisco where they both taught at the Circus Center, Serenity as an assistant to Master Lu Yi, and Elsie joining as school administrator and aerial coach. Finally, Elsie and Serenity began working together, still as self taught aerialists, training early mornings in the cold gym.

In 1997 they gained their first extended contract with Cirque Productions, performing extended contracts in casinos in Lake Tahoe and Atlantic City. 

After a talent scout saw their photograph on a friends refrigerator, they were called to audition for Cirque du Soleil, and after a week long audition, on Halloween 1997, the twins were invited to join the remake of the Canadian company's iconic show Saltimbanco.

From 1997 to 2001, the sisters toured the world as the swinging duo trapeze act. To keep their teaching spirits engaged, they offered backstage trapeze lessons, started developing aerial silks pedagogy and Serenity became Pilates captain.

In 2002 they decided to leave Cirque du Soleil to start their own company, and grow their teaching careers, and they settled near family in southern Vermont. They launched the first aerial teacher training workshop in 2002,  and in 2007 founded the New England Center for Circus Arts which now hosts the longest running Professional Training program in the US.

Elsie and Serenity began focusing on creative apparatus for their duo performances, and in 2007 they won a Bronze medal at the Albacete Circus Festival in Spain with a unique spinning trapeze act that won a Special Award at the WuQiao Festival a few months earlier.

In 2017 the Governor of Vermont awarded them the Walter Cerf Award for Excellence in the Arts for their influence on the culture and arts economy of Vermont, and the same year the twins received the American Circus Educators Award for Excellence in Education for their influence on circus education throughout the United States.

 

Along the way, they have supported the creation of many circus schools, companies and artists. Elsie serves on the Safety Committee for the American Circus Educators / American Youth Circus Organization, and Serenity is a founding member and Board Chair of the American Circus Alliance.

They continue to develop new work including Tree Dancing workshops and performances blending aerials and environmental education. In 2024 they plan to open a new Lakeside Studio in central Vermont to offer circus focused workshops and retreats for artists and companies in a small but fully riggable facility.

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