Circus Flora


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World Class Acts

Cecil MacKinnon Theater Director / “Yo–Yo the Narrator”

Cecil MacKinnon

Theater Director / “Yo–Yo the Narrator”

Cecil MacKinnon, performer, director and teacher, has performed extensively with theater companies in New York including Shaliko Company, Working Theatre, American Place Theatre, Theatre for a New City, and PS-122. Since 1980, she has been a member of Shakespeare and Company. MacKinnon co-founded the Pickle Family Jugglers, a comedy juggling act that expanded into The Pickle Family Circus. In 1994, she received the first Citizens’ Exchange Council grant to travel to Eastern Europe to research circus in transition. In 2002, MacKinnon was commissioned by the Virginia Festival to conceive and direct Romeo and Juliet using musicians with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. Productions she has directed include Twelfth NightLoves Labours Lost, Comedy of ErrorsLife is a Dream (which toured to Spain), On the RazzleMuch Ado About Nothing, and Two Great Oceans. Most recently, she directed Benjamin Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Naples Opera and two highly successful collaborations between Circus Flora and the St. Louis Symphony at Powell Hall: The Floating Palace and A Child’s Christmas in Wales. She is currently arts professor at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. MacKinnon has performed with and created shows for Circus Flora since 1986.

Hovey Burgess Dramaturg / Featured Performer

Hovey Burgess

Dramaturg / Featured Performer

Since 1966, every student to study at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts Graduate Acting program has studied circus techniques with Hovey Burgess. He also taught in the Drama Division of The Juilliard School (1968-1972). Hovey created, directed and performed with the Circo Dell’Arte (1969-1970), which included Cecil MacKinnon, Larry Pisoni, Judy Finelli, and Jim Jansen. He taught at Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown College (1973–1975, 1995), and at the Ultimate Clown School (since 1999) with Dick Monday, Tiffany Riley, Larry Pisoni, and Mark Renfro. His instructional book Circus Techniques (1976) is still in print. Hovey choreographed and appeared in the motion picture Popeye (1980), starring Robin Williams, one of his former Juilliard students. He is the recipient of the Red Skelton Award Gifted Mentor to Clown Theatre Artists (1991), the International Jugglers Association’s Excellence in Education award (1997), and the Downtown Clown Golden Nose – Lifetime Achievement award (2009). While Hovey is in high demand with many circuses around the world, his most enduring relationship continues with Circus Flora (since 1991). Read a great article about Hovey on the New York Times website.

Jack Marsh Artistic Director

Jack Marsh

Artistic Director

Jack Marsh has served in a variety of roles at Circus Flora beginning in 1986 when he was just one year old. As he grew, he transitioned into a job riding a Clydesdale named Jack, has since performed as a juggler in most Circus Flora productions, and for years tumbled with the St. Louis Arches. After a stint as a corporate attorney in New York, Marsh ran away to re-join the circus, inspired to help Circus Flora continue to create new and innovative productions. Marsh holds a B.A. in Economics from Harvard University and a J.D. from the University of Wisconsin.

Janine Del’Arte Musical Director, Arranger & Composer

Janine Del’Arte

Musical Director, Arranger & Composer

Janine Del’Arte has played a part in setting the magical atmosphere with music for Circus Flora since 1988. She comes from a family of musicians and has been performing since the age of seven. Janine is a professional woodwind player, producer, and composer in Los Angeles. Her musical credits include Little Richard, The Coasters, The Platters, and Shirley Bassey to name a few. Her TV appearances include Murphy Brown, Sliders, Fame LA, Beverly Hills 90210, and Picket Fences. She has fronted The Vibe Tribe, which is described as “generating a sonic journey through world music, dance, and visual arts.” She currently plays with The Swingin’ Deacons, with whom she recorded music for The Gilmore Girls on the WB. Outside of Circus Flora, Janine’s musical heart lies with teaching young musicians as a music educator and clinician in Conejo Valley, Ca.

Jessica Hentoff Featured Performer

Jessica Hentoff

Featured Performer

Jessica Hentoff is the Artistic and Executive Director of Circus Harmony, St. Louis’ only comprehensive circus school and social circus organization. She founded the St. Louis Arches in 1989, and continues to coach and choreograph the troupe’s performances. In 2009, Jessica received the double honor of being named St. Louis Arts Innovator of the Year by the Arts & Education Council and receiving the Grand Center Visionary Award for Outstanding Arts Educator. She serves on the board of directors for the American Youth Circus Organization, the advisory board of the World Circus Federation and is on Circus Fans of America’s Youth Circus Committee. Jessica is the only social circus person to ever serve as a judge at the International Circus Festival of Monte Carlo. She has spoken on social circus for the European Circus Association, Budapest Social Circus Conference and Princess Stephanie’s Circus Directors’ Luncheon. Jessica’s remarkable vision and use of circus arts to build character and community has fostered groundbreaking, bridge-building programs like Circus Salaam Shalom, Far East Meets Midwest, and Peace through Pyramids. These programs embody the organization’s mission to help children “defy gravity, soar with confidence and leap over social barriers, all at the same time.”

Miriam Cutler Resident Composer

Miriam Cutler

Resident Composer

Miriam Cutler, performer, writer and producer for more than 20 years, began her career as a singer/horn player in various bands that toured the West Coast, including the Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo. With the development of her own recording studio, she moved from live performance into composing and has contributed songs to feature films, including Bachelor Party, Grandview USA, and Slaves to the Underground, as well as special songs for the children’s educational show, Square One on PBS. She has scored numerous feature films, TV specials and in recent years has chosen to focus on independent documentaries including many film festival favorites: Ghosts of Abu Ghraib (Sundance/HBO), Thin (Sundance/HBO), Absolute Wilson (Cinemax/Berlin), China Blue (Toronto /PBS), Lost in La Mancha (Berlin/IFC), Pandemic: Facing Aids (HBO), Scouts Honor (Sundance/PBS), and Licensed to Kill (Sundance/PBS). Cutler co-produced and scored the highly acclaimed documentary One Lucky Elephant, which was shown on Opera Winfrey’s network, OWN, and The Film Forum in New York City. She has co-produced live jazz albums on Polygram/Verve for Joe Williams, Nina Simone, Shirley Horn, and Marlena Shaw and has produced independently released albums of her own songs and soundtracks. She has served on documentary film festival juries for the Sundance Film Festival, American Film Institute, the Independent Spirit Awards, and the International Documentary Association, and has been a mentor for the Sundance Institute’s Documentary Film Composer Lab. Since 1988, Cutler has been resident composer for Circus Flora and featured at Charleston’s Spoleto Festival and the Kennedy Center in DC.

The Flying Wallendas Featured Troupe

The Flying Wallendas

Featured Troupe

As far back as 1780, in the cafes of Old Bohemia in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the ancestral Wallenda family was a traveling circus troupe consisting of acrobats, jugglers, clowns, aerialists and animal trainers – all in one family. Tino Wallenda, grandson of the famed Karl Wallenda, represents the sixth generation of the famous Wallenda Family. Karl Wallenda began walking the high wire in the early 1920s; the family tradition is being carried on by several branches of the Wallendas. Tino started on the wire at the age of seven when Karl took him into the circus backyard, put the balance-pole in his hands and taught him how to place his feet, control his body and where to focus his eyes. At the age of 12, he made his first crossing on the wire, 35 feet off the ground. At 17, Tino became a full-fledged member of the Great Wallenda troupe. For several years, he toured with, and under, the tutelage of his grandfather. Now, Tino leads the Flying Wallendas, traveling with his daughters and son, eight to 10 months a year, recreating breathtaking versions of the pyramids that brought the Wallendas to the U.S. in 1928. In 1998, performing family members reunited from three separate groups, the Flying Wallendas, the Fabulous Wallendas and the Great Wallendas, to recreate their crowning achievement, The Seven-Person Pyramid, reestablishing their legacy in circus history. To debut the intricate maneuver, the Wallendas premiered their feat for the Hamid Circus Royale during the 1998 Moslem Temple Shrine Circus in Detroit, which was the scene of the Wallendas’ greatest tragedy 36 years before. Several attempts have been made by others to perform this intricate pyramid; as of yet, none have succeeded in accomplishing the feat the way it was performed by the Wallendas – incorporating the chair and without the use of nets or safety devices of any kind.

The St. Louis Arches Featured Troupe

The St. Louis Arches

Featured Troupe

The St. Louis Arches is the premiere youth circus performance troupe of Circus Harmony, St. Louis’ only comprehensive circus school and social circus organization. The St. Louis Arches are currently comprised of children 12 to 21 years old from throughout the St. Louis area. They perform a wide variety of circus arts including acrobatic, aerial, juggling, and balancing feats of skill and daring. Since the troupe’s inception in 1989, the performers have been coached and directed by Jessica Hentoff. Additional coaches include Rosa Yagaantsetseg, Richard Kennison, and Arthur Valverde. These acclaimed and accomplished youth circus performers can be seen almost every weekend in their “home ring” at City Museum in downtown St. Louis. They also appear at a number of public and private events throughout St. Louis and beyond. The troupe has been appearing with Circus Flora since 1989. Since 2007, the St. Louis Arches have collaborated with the Galilee Circus, a Jewish Arab youth circus from Israel, in a project called Peace through Pyramids.