Peace Through Pyramids: The Galilee Arches:

Trust: Crazle Trio

Defy Gravity: St. Louis Arches at Circus Flora

What’s a circus without clowns?!

Flip and Fly! Arches on Circus Flora 2012

Joy Through Juggling: Kellin Quinn

Harmony: Elliaire Duet

Soar with Confidence; Iking

Teamwork: St. Louis Arches

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Defying Gravity is the Easy Part

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I am writing this from the Circus Harmony office in Florissant. Our school is based inside City Museum in downtown St. Louis but our office is in Florissant. This is the town next to Ferguson, Missouri the epicenter of the conflict that was sparked by the death of Michael Brown, a young black man who was shot by a police officer.  Many thought we were in danger when we were in Israel. There, we were 80 miles from active, violent conflict. Here at home, our office is 2.5 miles from it.

We see a lot of parallels between what is happening in Israel and what is happening here. The way we work with the Jewish/Arab youth circus in Israel, we work with children of different races, religions and socioeconomic backgrounds here. We don’t focus on politics. We focus on our work of using the teaching and performing of circus arts to build character in individuals and build bridges between communities. We concentrate on what connects us instead of what divides us. But there is much that does divide us.

Rabbi Marc Rosenstein, founder of the Galilee Circus, wrote about our recent collaboration in one of his Galilee Diary blog posts that he titled The Show Must Go On (you can read it in its entirety at http://www.reformjudaism.org/blog/2014/08/06/show-must-go#post-count ). He wrote that “ these young circus artists did what circus artists do: they worked hard, learned together and from each other, and performed with all their hearts, for a variety of audiences, Arab and Jewish, through two weeks of conflict.  Black and white, Jewish and Arab, boys and girls – 27 kids building a temporary utopia of mutual trust, of multicultural friendship, of taking risks to make people smile – in a dystopian reality of fear and hatred of the Other.  And they made it look easy.”

Rabbi Marc addressed why the Galilee Circus continues with their work in Israel, in the face of the divisive violence there. As I write this, armored vehicles, police in riot gear and tear gas are all in use right here at home.  Shots have been fired and I can hear ambulance sirens. What Marc wrote about Israel could also be written for St. Louis:

“While powerful forces of apocalyptic, messianic, fundamentalist politics – with heavy weapons – are clashing all around us, what can local programs of cooperation and dialogue really accomplish?  A hard, discouraging question.  However, one thing that Judaism and liberal democracy have in common is the belief that:
a.  individuals can change
b.  individuals can influence society
c.  therefore, education can be a force for social change.
d.  therefore, we have a moral obligation to educate for the values we believe in.

So yes, we have to keep on defying gravity, in order to remind ourselves – and the world – that what seems impossible – is not.”

Circus Harmony has circus classes for all ages, 3 and up. In fact, our fall classes start next week and we hope you all sign up. You can register at http://www.circusday.org/fall/.  But we are a social circus. We are teaching children much more than circus arts. In fact, defying gravity may be the easy part.

 

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