Serenity Smith Forchion did not set out to make a career out of dangling high above the ground, but such a perch has been a fairly constant place for this Vermont-based artist.

"We actually grew up on a farm," Forchion said, in referencing her early years in western Massachusetts, as well as those of her identical twin, Elsie Smith. "But then one summer we taught at a summer camp for kids that had a circus arts program and we developed a love for it."

That was about 25 years ago -- a span that saw both sisters become award-winning aerialists, performing separately and together in top circus programs, such as Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey, Cirque du Soleil's Saltimbanco, New Pickle Circus and Cirque Le Masque. Smith Forchion also developed an acrobatics act with her husband Bill Forchion.

About 10 years ago, the sisters founded their performance company, Nimble Arts, followed by the establishment of the New England Center for Circus Arts in Brattleboro, Vt., where faculty teach students of all ages and aspirations -- some do it for fun, while others want to make it a profession.

Last year, the Nimble Arts team aimed high again, creating a touring program called Ruckus: A Cirque Spectacular.

"We were looking for our next creative project," said Smith Forchion, who added that she wanted a way to bring their act to smaller venues and stages.

"What we needed was something portable ... that would fit into theaters of various sizes," she said. "We needed something that was really versatile ... so we built a freestanding aerial rig."

That apparatus, and the performers who use it, will be in New Canaan on Saturday, Sept. 20, as part of the fourth annual ArtsFest at the Silvermine Arts Center. The group will perform twice, about 20 minutes each time (at 2:30 and 3:30 p.m.), and offer some excerpts of its longer shows.

"There will be juggling, comedy and partner acrobatics," Smith Forchion said, adding that there will be aerialists and trapeze artists featured in the family friendly show.

Overall, it will be a day of lofty pursuits and creative passions when visitors gather at the center's 90-year-old grounds and facilities this weekend.

This is the fourth time in as many years that the free community event will take place. This year brings expanded offerings, including a new outdoor marketplace of items from the center's long-running art school, as well as a collection of food trucks.

In addition to the circus, there will be puppet shows (at 2 and 3 p.m.), as performed by Shoshana Bass and Jana Zeller and written by Ines Zeller Bass. There will be art activities and demonstrations, as well as new art on display. Guests are invited to check out the works of Jim Flora, Kristina Küster-Witt and Leslie Giuliani, and stick around for a 2 p.m. talk by Irwin Chusid, biographer and co-curator of the Jim Flora exhibition, during the afternoon.

Smith Forchion said she is hoping for a festive crowd, of all ages, as she sees every performance as a dialogue between the performers and the audience.

"When someone smiles, grins or laughs, we can see that and that feeds us while we are performing," she said. "I'd like to think we spread joy and happiness to people."

Christina.hennessy@scni.com; Twitter: @xtinahennessy

Silvermine Arts Center, 1037 Silvermine Road, New Canaan. Saturday, Sept. 20, 2 to 4 p.m. Free. All parking at Silvermine Elementary School, 157 Perry Ave., with shuttles to the center. Only handicapped parking available at the center. 203-966-9700 silvermineart.org/