International stars to perform at Circus Spectacular
Molly Gawler

International stars to perform at Circus Spectacular

Pre-event reception will celebrate launch of new LGBTQ scholarship fund

BRATTLEBORO — The New England Center for Circus Arts' annual Circus Spectacular fundraiser on March 7 and 8 will feature professional performers from around the world donating their talents to raise money for NECCA's scholarships and outreach programming.

The 2020 celebrity host will be Stephanie Monseau, who recently toured as ringmaster with the Big Apple Circus. Monseau will be joined for mayhem and merriment by her Bindlestiff Family Cirkus co-founder, Keith Nelson.

Performers include Molly Gawler, who was lead dancer with the modern dance company Pilobolus, bringing grace and athleticism to her performance on the cyr wheel. Gawler's second act is a poignant mime and dance act with an empty jacket.

Ariele Ebacher, whose touring credits include the European Nofit State Circus and American Big Apple Circus, will dance on the tight wire two meters off the stage floor.

Montana Miller was the first American accepted into circus school at the prestigious École Nationale des Arts du Cirque in Chalons-sur-Marne, France, and she holds a degree from Harvard in Folklore and Mythology. She will be soaring on the aerial rings with a narrative act about a near-death experience.

Other performers include:

• NECCA founders Elsie Smith and Serenity Smith Forchion. These award-winning artists, formerly with Cirque du Soleil and Ringling Bros., will perform solo aerial acts.

• Troy Wunderle, who once directed clown acts at Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus and is now artistic director of Circus Smirkus.

• Susan Murphy, one of the original devisers of dance trapeze - an art form that began with Terry Sendgraff in Berkeley, Calif., in 1978. Murphy holds a master's degree in modern dance and is a certified movement analyst from the Laban Institute for Movement. Her performance highlights include Lincoln Center and the Skirball Center of the Performing Arts.

• Sam Gurwitt of CirqueUS, playing all the parts in a comedic tennis match. He devised his act somewhere between touring with Circus Smirkus, getting a degree at Yale, street performing, and working as a reporter in New Haven, Conn.

In a news release, NECCA says “Join us in your fabulous party attire for 'oohs,' 'aahs,' and laughs - all to raise funds supporting NECCA's transformative outreach programming and scholarships. Circus education offers aspiration, expression, empowerment, innovation, strength, grace, a place of belonging, and joy.”

The Circus Spectacular has two shows only: March 7 at 7:30 p.m., and March 8 at 1 p.m., at the Latchis Theatre in Brattleboro. Tickets are $15 to $50 and available online at To learn more, call 802-254-9780.

In a special add-on event, all are invited to join the launch of NECCA's new LGBTQ Scholarship Fund at an LGBTQ (and Allies) Pre-Show Reception before Saturday night's Circus Spectacular performance.

More than one-third of those enrolled in NECCA's programs (professionals, adults, and kids) are LGBTQ and/or are being raised in same-sex parent households. NECCA provides them with the opportunity to discover and develop themselves and to grow in an unconditional and nurturing LGBTQ-friendly environment.

The free pre-show reception at Echo Restaurant & Lounge (across the street from the Latchis) features special VIP circus cast appearances, light appetizers, a cash bar, a door prize, and $3,000 in raffle prizes topped with an all-inclusive “Brattlelicious, BrattleFabulous Weekend for Two” Grand Prize (a $1,500 value.)

Professional circus performer and NECCA graduate Marshall Jarreau will act as master of ceremonies. Reception details can be found at

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