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Overlooked & Underrated Docs & Features (click on broll or dschwartz for all his posts)
• Circus Dreams: 24 Kids, 10 Weeks, 70 Shows
is the only traveling youth circus in the United States. Every Summer, approximately 24 children and young people ages 10-18 spend 10 weeks training and then performing at cities in the North East. Some are returning performers, the others first-timers. All must audition—returners, of course, have the edge on casting. Training and rehearsal occur during the first three weeks, after that there are 70 shows to perform, and, hopefully, enough money to be earned to support next year’s tour.
” is Signe Taylor’s coverage of the 2006 season. Taylor covers the cast from the moments before their auditions through the final show. Our host is Joy Powers, one of 2006’s performers, and now, 2010, a clown for Barnum and Bailey. Powers partnered with her friend Maddy Hall, forming a duo clown act—increasing the likelihood that if one were cast it would make it difficult not to cast the other.
Signe Taylor successfully captures talented, exuberant youth blossoming during this ten week initiation of fun and demanding work. Of course there are dramas galore—hint, producers of “Glee”—the hopes and fears of auditioners, injuries, struggles to develop their skills and shape the season’s show during the three weeks of training, bug-infested trailers at training camp, food poisoning, weather and the overarching question: Will we take in enough money to play next year? That financial drama is heightened this season with weather and other barriers reducing the audiences for several shows.
Taylor did such a good job of covering this annual affair I wished his film was three times longer than its 82 minute running time. But, of course, I’m grateful for what I got. Who knows? Perhaps the eventually-released commercial DVD will contain the usual additional footage. Hint, Signe Taylor.
D. Schwartz March 20, 2011