Categorized | Entertainment

‘Circus Dreams’ on PBS features isle dancer (July 7)

(Photo courtesy of Circus Smirkus)


Mark your calendars and set your Tivos because PBS Hawaii will show the fun and inspiring family film Circus Dreams on July 7.

Winner of audience awards at film festivals worldwide, Circus Dreams follows the adventures of a troupe of teens and tweens who astonish and delight audiences around New England on a Big Top Tent Circus Tour.

The vibrant film 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.

Featured players in Circus Dreams include Thula Martin, a hula dancer from Hilo, who grows from an injured child into a confident young woman over the course of the summer tour.

She’s joined by best friends and clown partners Joy Powers and Maddy Hall who battle self-doubt and tradition as they aim to prove that “girls can be funny, too,” a mission that eventually sends one to the pinnacle of circus success.

Juggler Jacob Tischler overcomes the isolation he’s experienced at home to find a place among kindred spirits. The magnetic supporting cast includes death-defying aerialists and two brothers on a quest to become the best diabolo jugglers in the world.

Fun for the whole family – and a must-see for circus enthusiasts – Circus Dreams is an entertaining and inspiring testament to the power of youthful dreams.

Audiences in Hawaii can share in the magic when Circus Dreams airs at 8 p.m. July 7 on PBS Hawaii. It will show on PBS Hawaii Channel 10, Channel 11 and HD Oceanic Cable Channel 10.10.

Since participating in Circus Dreams, Martin has gone on to perform internationally as an aerialist. Last year, she toured with Show Makers Inc in the Great American Circus throughout Alaska, Guam and the Philippines.

Currently, she is performing with Cirque de la Mer as the princess and center aerialist at Seaworld in San Diego. Furthermore, she was recently accepted to Ecole Nationale du Cirque (ENC) in Montreal, which is considered to be one of the best circus schools in the world.

Martin also looks forward to studying contortion lyra at ENC this coming August.

Filmmaker Signe Taylor discovered Circus Smirkus when she and her family moved to Vermont. A junior high and high school media arts teacher 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.

“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.

Circus Dreams has received numerous festival awards, including:

* Indie Spec Award at the 2011 Boston International Film Festival
* Best Film4Families Feature Award at the 2011 Seattle International Film
* Audience Choice for Best Feature Documentary at the 2011 Woods Hole Film Festival
* Youth Jury Award at the 2011 Sprockets Toronto International Film Festival for Children & Youth
* James Goldstone Award at the 2011 Vermont International Film Festival
* Best Feature Film at the 2012 Providence Children’s Film Festival
* Best Independent Documentary, at the 2012 Kids First! Film Festival

Circus Dreams is presented by Vermont Public Television, distributed by American Public Television and was made possible by the support of the Vermont Arts Council, Vermont Arts Endowment and the National Endowment for the Arts.

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