299. Jessica Hentoff: Artistic Executive Director and Founder of Circus Harmony

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Jessica Hentoff, Artistic Executive Director of Circus Harmony, stopped by to talk about the mission and works of the organization. ------

Circus Harmony is a non-profit social circus organization that uses circus arts to motivate social change. By inspiring individuals and connecting communities with our circus education and entertainment programs, we have a positive impact on the St. Louis area and beyond. ———

Our programs teach valuable life skills like perseverance, focus, and teamwork. Learning circus with others teaches trust, responsibility and cooperation. Perhaps the most important experience we give our participants is the opportunity to meet and interact with children from different socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds than their own. ———

We believe the path to peace is a path of cooperation and communication. Teaching children from different neighborhoods how to stand on each other’s shoulders may seem like a strange way to take this path. But it’s the technique we use! Circus Harmony promotes peace through pyramids, joy through juggling and harmony through handsprings. ———

About Jessica Hentoff: Jessica has been teaching and performing circus arts for over 40 years. Ms. Hentoff has been using circus arts to motivate social change since she founded the St. Louis Arches youth circus performance troupe in 1989. She created Circus Harmony in 2001 to expand youth circus opportunities for St. Louis youth. In 2009, Ms. Hentoff was named both St. Louis Arts Innovator of the Year and Outstanding Arts Educator of the Year. Ms. Hentoff is the only person to be a founding member of both the Big Apple Circus in NYC and Circus Flora in St. Louis. She serves as youth circus advisor to both the Circus Fans Association of America and the World Circus Federation. In 2014, she was honored to be the first person to receive the American Youth Circus Organization/American Circus Educators’ Excellence in Circus Education Award. Jessica is the artistic/executive director of Circus Harmony where she uses her remarkable vision and use of circus arts to build character and community and to help children “defy gravity, soar with confidence and leap over social barriers.”

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