Jessica Hentoff | St. Louis Public Radio

Jessica Hentoff

Jessica Hentoff and Circus Harmony alums
Circus Harmony

Jessica Hentoff is quick to insist that the primary focus of Circus Harmony, the St. Louis-based organization she heads up, isn’t to turn kids into top-notch circus professionals. And yet the program has a track record of doing just that — even as it changes lives in other ways, too.

This fall, a total of four Circus Harmony alumni are touring with Cirque du Soleil, the largest circus company in the world. They include St. Louis natives Melvin Diggs, Sidney "Iking" Bateman, Terrance "T-Roc" Robinson and Chauncey Kroner.

Hentoff couldn’t be more proud of them — and just returned from Vancouver and Chicago this past weekend where she watched them perform. On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske talked with Hentoff about the success the program and its participants have seen. The conversation included comments from Bateman and Diggs.

Kids from Circus Harmony and Escuela Nacional de Circo de Puerto Rico performed July 6 at the Ferguson Farmers Market.
Jessica Hentoff

St. Louis circus kids are doing handsprings this week over a reunion with friends from Puerto Rico.

Last summer, nine kids from St. Louis’ Circus Harmony visited Puerto Rico to practice and perform with the young jugglers and acrobats of Escuela Nacional de Circo de Puerto Rico.

A dozen Puerto Rican teenagers are in St. Louis this week, reconnecting with St. Louis friends while performing together at the Jewish Community Center, Ballpark Village and other venues.

Jessica Hentoff, the executive director of Circus Harmony, recently lost her father, who died in January at the age of 91. She joined St. Louis on the Air to discuss a tribute she's planning for him.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

In January, Nat Hentoff, a syndicated columnist and writer noted for his jazz criticism and attention to First Amendment issues, died at the age of 91.

His daughter, Jessica Hentoff, is a St. Louis resident and will pay tribute to her father’s work in an upcoming performance featuring Circus Harmony, the organization of which she is executive director.

Jessica Hentoff

Circus Harmony, St. Louis’ only social circus and circus school, created Peace Through Pyramids, a performance arts initiative teaching youth of all races that cooperation, communication and standing on the shoulders of each other are keys to the path of peace.

The St. Louis Arches perform at Circus Flora in 2010.
Provided by Circus Flora

Update July 29: The St. Louis Arches arrived safely in the city this morning. The nine performers and three adults had their stay in Israel extended for almost a week after flights in and out of that country were temporarily halted.

The trip was Arches' member Donesha Buhr’s first time out of the United States. She says, while she enjoyed the experience, she’s excited to be home.

A crowd at Climb So iLL
Zoë Scharf | Sloup

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec.10. 2013Sloup has been hosting monthly crowd-funding soup dinners in St. Louis since 2010. But the one on Dec. 8 at Climb So iLL (1419 Carroll St.), differed from the usual -- and not just because a gym staffer was clambering across the rock wall above the crowd. No arts groups presented proposals for bike-generated sound systems or giant murals. No votes were cast. There wasn’t even soup.

Reggie Moore
Provided by the family

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Reggie Moore’s love of the circus took him into the ring, on the road and into the hearts of local circus performers and those around the world. Now, the 21-year-old man known as the “gentle giant” of St. Louis’ Circus Harmony, is being mourned by the wider circus community and his family, following his Friday night death in a local car accident.

After joining Circus Harmony as a teenager, the six-foot-five, 250-pound Moore quickly became known as a hard worker with a big heart, according to the organization’s artistic and executive director Jessica Hentoff.

Commentary: The Circus Arts Thrive In St. Louis

Sep 6, 2013
Courtesy Circus Flora

The modern definition of a circus is based on the ancient word referring to the actual performance area, a circle of sorts, in which gladiatorial events, chariot races, etc. took place.

Concentration required as the Galilee and Harmony circuses practice together.
Lauren Leone | Beacon intern | 2012

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - The Galilee Circus, a Jewish-Arab circus youth troupe, happily find themselves in the circus ring with new and old friends from the St. Louis Flying Arches, a youth circus troupe from the city's only social circus school, Circus Harmony.

So far, the troupes have performed at places such as a cramped, narrow sidewalk in front of Ben and Jerry’s in the Delmar Loop, the City Museum’s Circus Ring, and during intermission at the nationally known UniverSOUL’s circus performance in Florissant.

Jessica Hentoff: Circus lady, circus teacher

Nov 18, 2010

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 18, 2010 - Sometimes it takes an accident to discover a life passion, but rarely does discovery require a 30-foot fall from a circus trapeze. It did for Circus Harmony director Jessica Hentoff, whose circus troupe and its trip to Israel are the subject of new motion picture documentary "Circus Kids" showing Sun., Nov. 21 at 1:30 p.m. as part of the St. Louis International Film Festival.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 9, 2009 - With 15 minutes to show time, the hardest act of Circus Harmony’s “Fermata” performance is already underway: the group photo. Artistic director Jessica Hentoff maneuvers in and around the assemblage, making sure everyone’s angled toward the middle and has his or her head in the shot.

The circus circle 'erases all other lines'

Aug 11, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 11, 2008 - In a world where safety relies on the strength of a string or the bonds between aerialists' fingers, there is no room for distrust. That's why, when Roey Schafran tumbles with Mnar Asdi, these children born on different sides of a deep conflict simply become Israeli acrobats.

"To me, they're just Israeli circus kids," said Matthew Viverito, 18, a member of the youth troupe, the St. Louis Arches. He will study at Florida State University this fall. "In the beginning, I couldn't tell them apart."