Virginia teen runs off and joins the circus

15-year-old Sam Landa dangles from the trapeze. (Courtesy Carey Dougan)
WTOP's Samantha Loss highlights Circus Smirkus: Part 1

Jason Fraley | November 30, -0001 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON — This summer, some kids will head off to summer camp. Others will spend time at the beach or the pool. But one teen from Alexandria, Virginia is off for the adventure of a lifetime.

Fifteen-year-old Sam Landa is running away to join the circus.

Sam will be performing in Circus Smirkus, a traveling circus where kids are the stars.

He was selected from a pool of more than 200 applicants to be part of the all-star cast that will perform nearly 70 shows in seven weeks in 15 different cities across New England.

Each show will be performed inside a 750-seat tent.

“When I was little, I always said to my mom that I really wanted to fly,” Sam tells WTOP.

So he jumped at the chance to try the flying trapeze when he was on a family vacation at Club Med.

From there, he started taking some classes at Trapeze School New York here in Washington, D.C. and his love for circus quickly became more than just a hobby.

Sam is still not sure exactly what act he will be in for this year’s Circus Smirkus show, but his areas of expertise include rope, aerial fabric and trapeze, so chances are that he will be spending some time hanging upside-down.

Circus Smirkus was founded in 1987, making this summer its 28th annual Big Top Tour.

All of the performers are between the ages of 10 and 18, and go through a rigorous audition process.  The talented kids get help from adult trainers, coaches, musicians and other staff to help pull the production together.

Parents are not invited on tour with the kids, but Sam’s mom, Debbie Landa, says that’s not going to stop her.

“We plan to be groupies,” Debbie says.  “We will be at opening day, closing day, and probably three or four cities in between.”

Circus Smirkus shows get underway in late June and continue through mid-August.

As for the future, Landa says he’s not sure if he’ll run away and join the circus for good, at least not just yet.

“Right now I would say it is more than a hobby, but I don’t have any definite plans just yet,” Sam says.  “I don’t want to box myself in to anything, but right now it’s definitely more than a hobby.”

Sam spent the better part of three years training almost every day for this opportunity.

“I’m just so proud of him,” says mom, Debbie.  “He works really hard, all the time, and it’s just so exciting to see his dreams come true.”

Follow Sam on tour this summer @sam_landa77 on Twitter and Instagram

Click here for ticket information.

WTOP's Samantha Loss highlights Circus Smirkus: Part 2

Jason Fraley | November 30, -0001 12:00 am

Download audio

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