Sharpe brothers featured in new circus documentaryBy Canton Citizen
Brothers Nate and Jacob Sharpe, the world-renowned juggling duo hailing from Canton, are among the featured players in a new documentary about Circus Smirkus, New England’s acclaimed traveling youth circus.
The award-winning Circus Dreams, directed and produced by filmmaker Signe Taylor, is set to premiere on WGBH on April 21 — World Circus Day — with repeat broadcasts on April 22, 24 and 25.
Winner of audience awards at film festivals from coast to coast, Circus Dreams follows the adventures of a troupe of teens and tweens who astonish and delight audiences around New England on a Big Top Tour. The vibrant production captures the energy, perseverance, teamwork, and deep friendships at Circus Smirkus, the acclaimed Vermont-based youth circus, as the cast readies a brand-new show and takes it on the road for 70 performances in 14 towns over seven weeks. From the grueling training and rigorous rehearsals to the emotional final show of the season, Circus Dreams documents a magical summer for a group of extraordinary young people.
Among the performers featured in the film are the Sharpe brothers, two Canton natives and CHS graduates who were on a quest to become the best diabolo jugglers in the world. Since then Jacob and Nate have won a gold medal for Best Duo Juggling Act at the 2008 International Juggler’s Association Festival, and both have since graduated from MIT. Nate then chose a career in engineering, while Jacob pursued the circus and is now performing with the prestigious Les 7 Doigts de la Main circus company in its Berlin-based show LOFT.
The brothers are joined in the film by a charismatic collection of fellow troupers, coaches and crew who share a passion for the circus.
The filmmaker, Taylor, discovered Circus Smirkus when she and her family moved to Vermont. A junior high and high school media arts teacher in Boston for many years, Taylor had long been frustrated by limited media options for teens and tweens. At Smirkus, she saw the possibility of creating the kind of programming she wanted to share with her students and her own children. To pursue her dream, she cashed in her teacher retirement fund, bought an RV, and devoted an entire summer to travel across five states, family in tow, to make Circus Dreams.
“Mainstream media aimed at teens and tweens tends to feature a lot of negative stereotypes and rampant consumerism and really lacks positive role models, especially for girls,” Taylor said. “In Circus Dreams, I wanted to present a non-commercial, authentic, and alternative vision of the struggles and triumphs of youth.”
A graduate of the Stanford University documentary film master’s program, Taylor has produced, directed, and/or edited a dozen films, including the award-winning Greetings from Iraq about the effects of Operation Desert Storm and the international embargo on Iraqi families. Her work has been nationally broadcast on public television and commercial networks and honored with awards from film festivals worldwide.
The broadcast-hour version of Circus Dreams will air on WGBH Channel 2 on April 21 at 10 p.m. and on April 22 at 10:30 a.m. The feature version will air on WGBH-World on April 24 at 9 a.m., 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. and on April 25 at 1 a.m.
Catch Circus Smirkus live when it returns to Boston this summer on its 25th anniversary tour. Circus Smirkus visits Waltham July 27-29, Sandwich July 30 to August 1, and Byfield August 3-4. For more information, visit www.smirkus.org.
For more information about Circus Dreams, please visit www.circusdreams.net.
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