Circus Harmony is a nonprofit social circus organization that uses circus arts to cultivate personal growth and motivate social change. Founded by Jessica Hentoff—also a founding member of both Big Apple Circus and Circus Flora who started teaching circus arts in 1975—Circus Harmony is St. Louis’ only complete circus school and social circus. They are the home of the international renowned youth circus troupe, the St. Louis Arches.
“We help people defy gravity, soar with confidence, and leap over social barriers,” Hentoff declares in the mission statement.
The organization teaches the art of life through circus education by building character and expanding community for youth of all ages, cultures, abilities, and backgrounds. At Circus Harmony, students learn valuable life skills like perseverance, focus, and teamwork. Learning circus with others develops trust, responsibility, and cooperation. By teaching children from different neighborhoods how to stand on each other’s shoulders, Circus Harmony has shown that the path to peace is paved by cooperation and communication. Since 2007, they have partnered with Galilee Circus, a Jewish/Arab youth circus in Israel, to promote cultural exchange and collaboration.
At the 2017 Folklife Festival, Circus Harmony shared their vision of peace through pyramids, joy through juggling, and harmony through handsprings.