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Wednesdays, November 3,10 and 17 at 9 p.m. Circus

(Rochester, NY) For centuries, the circus has captivated and delighted audiences around the globe, becoming a cultural phenomenon. Now, for the first time, step inside the ring, where the stories are true and the magic is real, for an intimate look at the mystery and thrill of it all with Circus. The multi-part documentary premieres Wednesday, November 3 at 9 p.m. on WXXI-TV/HD (DT21.1/cable 1011 and 11), and continues Wednesdays November 10 and 17.

Over the course of six dramatic hours, Show of Force, the production company whose founding partners were two of the key creative visionaries behind the Emmy Award-winning PBS series Carrier, turns its lenses on the world-renowned Big Apple Circus. Circus follows the company on an unforgettable journey from the big top to the “back lot,” where nail-biting drama unfolds both high in the air and down on the ground, and the real heart of the circus beats. 
 
Circus goes behind the scenes to explore a distinctive world with its own rules and lingo and no fixed address. It reveals the sights, sounds, and stories of the circus’ fascinating cultural legacy in unprecedented breadth and scope as viewers escape into a place of passion, excitement, perseverance, and even heartache. From the training and rehearsals to the bravery and the intensity of life — and work — in the circus, the cameras capture it all. Grab a front-row seat as members of the Big Apple family experience life-changing moments:

• Founder and artistic director Paul Binder announces his departure and faces the realities of leaving behind his home and his creation, the Big Apple Circus, after 30 years in the ring.
• New clown Glen Heroy searches for his place under the big top while dealing with a haunting past.
•Twin brothers Marty and Jake LaSalle, life-long juggling partners, battle with the decision to keep their act together or part ways professionally.
• Teen acrobat Christian Stoinev grapples with leaving the family circus legacy for a “normal” life in college.
• Love fizzles and blossoms inside the close-knit group of ring crew members.
• A long-time company member faces the challenge of a life-threatening illness.
• Acts are fired and hired as the circus — and its performers — face tough times.
 
Circus reveals the lives of the men and women who create the magic and wonder of this enduring art form,” says John F. Wilson, PBS senior vice president and chief TV programming executive. “Viewers can delve more deeply into the circus experience through engaging online content and explore educational elements, which reveal some of the science behind the amazing feats and tricks.”
 
Circus offers an intimate portrait of the amazing performers from around the world, as well as those that construct the tent, fit and tailor the costumes and choreograph the show. The series highlights the physical demands of human performance as well as the confinements of living life on the road for 10 months straight with 150 other people of differing nationalities, belief systems and backgrounds.

Throughout the series, viewers are provided with an exclusive look at unbelievable performances, including:

• Death-defying trapeze troupe the Flying Cortes.
• Russian barre act the Rodion Troupe, winners of some of circus’ most coveted international honors.
• Dog trainer and 8th generation circus performer Luciano Anastasini.
• Disciplined and stunning tightrope walker Sarah Schwarz.
• Veteran equestrian husband and wife team Christine Zerbini and Sultan Kumisbayev.

"For the first time, viewers can explore this unique lifestyle in some of the most unprecedented, revealing and honest footage seen on television,” said Maro Chermayeff, Circus executive producer, co-creator and director. “Viewers will laugh, cry and ultimately relate to the characters in this unscripted drama that illuminates the enduring mystery and allure of the circus.” 

The six-hour series is a never-before-seen look into how a traveling big-top show functions. Constantly in motion, startlingly insular and completely interdependent for months on end, the circus community demands a uniquely high level of sociability, diplomacy and flat-out patience. Audiences will quickly discover that running away to the circus does not always guarantee one’s troubles won’t eventually catch up.

“While the circus community is unique unto itself, our series reveals that struggles and hardships are universal,” said Jeff Dupre, Circus executive producer, co-creator and director. “From the economic crisis that hit while we were filming to personal tragedies faced by the cast and crew, Circus uncovers the real individuals behind the magic.”

Circus will feature an interactive website and social media component that will further explore not only the experience of living and performing in the circus but also the circus’ lengthy and storied history in the United States. Providing a broad spectrum of engaging content — from character profiles to circus trivia, from online chats to exclusive video clips that reveal the secrets of the modern circus — the site will introduce the series to new viewers and allow current viewers to hear more from and interact with the show’s on-air personalities. For educators, the site will feature performance footage from the series, along with related curriculum materials, to provide teachers with an entertaining and engaging way to introduce students to the basic laws of physics.

Caption: The Flying Cortes trapeze troupe
Credit: Courtesy of Show of Force

 


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