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Saturday, October 20, 2012

Review: Big tops and bigger dreams in "Circus Dreams"
 
Girl clown Joy Powers meets her audience.
(Photo courtesy of Vigne Taylor)
By John Seven,
From---North Adams Transcript  thetranscript.com
10/19/2012
WILLIAMSTOWN -- In the new documentary film, "Circus Dreams," the old idea of running away with the circus is updated and revealed as not only a legitimate career move for kids, but an enriching one.
"Circus Dreams" will screen at the Williamstown Film Festival on Sunday, Oct. 21, at 2 p.m., with an appearance by performers and Circus Smirkus alumni Greylin Nielsen and Anna Partridge. Director Sig ne Taylor says that the film is not just for adults and invites middle schoolers and older teens to check it out.
Circus Smirkus is a youth circus program that offers intensive training camps and touring for kids who are seriously in terested in circus performance. The organization, based in Ver mont, has existed since 1987, and offers big top shows with a cast ranging from ages 10 to 18.
Taylor first encountered the group at a performance in Boston in 2003. She was producing guest spots for the television show "Zoom" at the time and thought Circus Smir kus would make a great three-minute piece. That segment never happened, but the idea stayed with her and, when she found herself relocated to Vermont in 2006 and having the desire to finally pursue her dream of creating independent documentary films, Circus Smir kus was the first thing she thought of.
"I approached them in early 2006 and that was the point that I learned that they had actually suspended operations the previous year," she said. "I hadn't realized that. At first,
 was like, ‘Oh, no, this is bad,' and then all of a sudden I was like, ‘Oh, no, this actually a pretty good dramatic hook, as long as it works.' "
It wasn't the sort of project that she could just pop in and pop out with her camera and expect to maintain a level of in timacy with her subjects, so Tay lor brought her family and camera person to live with the circus.
"We cashed in my teacher retirement fund -- I taught high school for 10 years -- and we bought an RV and I went on tour," Taylor said. "My husband went with me, at the beginning, and my two kids. We also had an au pair with us and my camera woman was driving our old Saab with a pop-up behind."
"In the beginning, there was a little bit of distrust, a little bit of discomfort. Anytime you bring a camera into a room, it's going to create anxiety, but then because -- for the kids in that 2006 troupe -- I just became part of their summer, like the cook or the counselor, like the tent crew, then there's the film crew."
As Taylor filmed their lives unfolding over the several months of Smirkus Camp and Big Top Tour, she found not only a fascinating story to be told, but also a kinship with her subjects that extends to many in the film's audience.
read more---
http://www.thetranscript.com/entertainment/ci_21807144/big-tops-and-bigger-dreams

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