Tightrope Walker Shares His Expertise with Shelburne Students


Kindar-Martin gives a lift to a Lake Champlain Waldorf School student - ALISON NOVAK
  • Alison Novak
  • Kindar-Martin gives a lift to a Lake Champlain Waldorf School student
Vermont native Jade Kindar-Martin taught Joseph Gordon-Levitt the ins and outs of tightrope walking for the recently released feature film The Walk, which chronicles Philippe Petit’s high-wire walk between the Twin Towers. But he spent a recent Friday afternoon in October explaining the finer points of forward rolls to seventh and eighth graders at the Lake Champlain Waldorf School in Shelburne.

“Feet together, down on your hands, chin in and roll,” Kindar-Martin instructed a small group of middle schoolers during their movement class. He demonstrated the technique with an effortless series of tumbles down a long mat. In pairs, the students followed suit, looking slightly less graceful than the spritely Kindar-Martin.

Next, he demoed cartwheels, then shoulder sits and stands. Two other small groups practiced juggling with balls and scarves and walking on wooden stilts nearby.

The 41-year-old high-wire walker, who got his first taste of circus arts at age 14 when he joined Circus Smirkus, moved around Vermont when he was a kid, from Brattleboro to Montpelier, then Middlesex to Randolph. He graduated from Champlain Valley Union High School and his parents live in Shelburne.

Most of the year, Kindar-Martin and his wife, former Cirque du Soleil performer turned stunt woman Karine Mauffrey, live with their 5- and 8-year-old sons and 17-month-old daughter in Saint Cecile D’Andorge, a small village in Southern France. In the summer, the couple run a “yurt and breakfast” artist’s retreat in a valley with a 250-foot-long high wire stretching across it. Their sons go to school most of the year in a two-room schoolhouse.

Kindar-Martin demos a shoulder stand - ALISON NOVAK
  • Alison Novak
  • Kindar-Martin demos a shoulder stand
The family were stateside this fall and winter to visit friends and family, with plans to homeschool their sons. Then Mauffrey got a job as a stunt woman on a TV show filming in Atlanta. So in October, Kindar-Martin and his kids got to hang out with “Nana and Boppy” in Shelburne. His boys attended the Waldorf School for a one-day trial and liked it so much they arranged to stay for several weeks.

Coincidentally, the Kindar-Martin kids’ stint at Waldorf corresponded with the school’s month-long circus unit in movement class. So Kindar-Martin offered to help the teacher, Mashobane Moruthane, with his kindergarten through eighth-grade students. Bringing in a circus pro helped to get the kids excited and “put spice” into the curriculum, says Moruthane. Kindar-Martin's demonstration of jump-roping on a unicycle was particularly impressive.  

Kindar-Martin spent years as a Circus Smirkus counselor when he was younger, but he hasn’t had the chance to share his expertise with groups of kids recently. He enjoyed his experience working with kids at Waldorf. “It was fun for me now, as a father, to reconnect with that part of the play of circus, to connect with the different ages” he said.

Next stop for the Kindar-Martin family? They’ll travel to visit mom on set in Georgia, then to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina where Kindar-Martin and his two boys, who are already following in their parents' footsteps, will be part of a small circus show at a Christmas-themed exhibition. His 5-year-old son has dubbed their act “The Legendary Kindar-Martini Flying Family Extravaganza.” 

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