Circus troupes bridge cultural divides

From left, Reggie Moore, Hala Assadi, Ali Hassarmi, Hla Assadi, Meghan Clark and Max Pepose perform at Central Reform Congregation last week. The performers are part of the St. Louis Flying Arches and the Galilee Circus from Israel.

By Lauren Leone, 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.

The troupes 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, during intermission at the UniverSOUL’s circus performance in Florissant and at Central Reform Congregation. 

The Israeli troupe’s two-week-long visit is part of a Circus Harmony’s larger “Peace Through Pyramids” project.

‘Nothing compares’

Jessica Hentoff, executive and artistic director for Circus Harmony, founded the Flying Arches in 1989. While she has more than 20 years of experience with the troupe, she said nothing compares with watching the two youth troupes from different parts of the world come together because of one common bond: circus.

Circus Harmony brings people of different socio-economic backgrounds, neighborhoods, races and religions who would not normally interact, Hentoff said. 

“While they are learning to flip, fly and juggle, (they) also learn important life skills like focus, persistence and teamwork,” she said. 

But melding people of different backgrounds is taken to an entirely different level when the Galilee Circus makes its way to St. Louis to perform with the Flying Arches.

Reprinted with permission from the St. Louis Beacon, online at Read the full article online at