Jessica Hentoff (Artistic/Executive Director)
Jessica has been teaching and performing circus arts for over 40 years. Ms. Hentoff has been using circus arts to motivate social change since she founded the St. Louis Arches youth circus performance troupe in 1989. She created Circus Harmony in 2001 to expand youth circus opportunities for St. Louis youth. In 2009, Ms. Hentoff was named both St. Louis Arts Innovator of the Year and Outstanding Arts Educator of the Year. Ms. Hentoff is the only person to be a founding member of both the Big Apple Circus in NYC and Circus Flora in St. Louis. She serves as youth circus advisor to both the Circus Fans Association of America and the World Circus Federation. In 2014, she was honored to be the first person to receive the American Youth Circus Organization/American Circus Educators’ Excellence in Circus Education Award. Jessica is the artistic/executive director of Circus Harmony where she uses her remarkable vision and use of circus arts to build character and community and to help children “defy gravity, soar with confidence and leap over social barriers.”
Michelle Fassler (General Manager)
Michelle Fassler serves as General Manager for Circus Harmony. Michelle is has worked in the education and nonprofit community in Saint Louis as a Director of Career Services, Program Manager and ADA Coordinator for the last fifteen years. She has a BA in Communications from Westminster College and a MA in School Counseling from Lindenwood University. Michelle is very active in the community as a member of the Community Investment Committee at United Way of Greater St. Louis and as an advisory member to the National Disability Institute where she worked on poverty reduction campaigns. The General Manager at Circus Harmony, Michelle handles all daily operations, including office management, human resources and finances.
Charlotte Byram, MPH (Development Manager & Evaluation Specialist)
Finally returned to her hometown of St. Louis, Charlotte Byram has been a community circus educator, performer, and activist for over a decade and around the country. As a programs implementation specialist and social circus researcher, Charlotte has spoken at the 2016 American Circus Educators (ACE) Conference and 2017 Smithsonian Folklife Festival, and continually works with the circus community to improve cohesion and strategy for achieving their desired impacts. She holds a BA in Anthropology from the University of Georgia, and a Master’s in Public Health from the George Washington University in Washington, DC. The Development Manager at Circus Harmony, Charlotte coordinates grants, donor relations and public communications, and seeks new funding opportunities. She is also responsible for coordinating Circus Harmony’s evaluation and youth development research.
Master Teaching Artists
Rosa Yagaantsetseg (Contortion, Hand Balancing, Aerial, and Wire-walking Coach)
Rosa is both an honored Artist and a citizen of Mongolia. While she has done and taught every circus act you can think of (including partner acrobatics on the back of a yak), her specialties are contortion and hand balancing. Rosa is world famous as a performer and choreographer of acts that are a creation of beauty, strength, creativity, and control of the human body. Her acts have won accolades from around the world, including silver medals at the Monte Carlo International Circus Festival, the Paris Young Actors Festival, the Italian International Circus Festival, the Hungarian World Circus Arts Festival, and more.
Donesha Buhr (Basic Circus Arts and Hoops Coach, Costume Mistress)
Meet the daring, darling Donesha, hula hooper extraordinaire. She has been a member of this flying family for 12 years, five of which she’s been teaching, and loving every minute of it. She says that, “the best part about teaching is that I never stop learning, even with skills that I learned when I first started. Through teaching, I am learning as much as my students.” Donesha is particularly skilled with our youngest Intro to Circus Arts students, and she has a high interest in using circus to help students achieve early childhood development milestones.
Audrey Crabtree (Acting and Performance Coach, Manager of everydaycircus Booking Agency)
Audrey Crabtree has been working in theater for 25 years and circus for 16 years. She is an award-winning, director, writer, and performer. She has worked with circus and theater, professionals, corporate executives, and professional speakers, and students of all ages as an instructor and artistic coach. Her original work has won a Drama Desk Award, Innovative Theater Award and Golden Nose Award. She has worked with Cirque du Soleil, The Big Apple Circus, Clowns Without Borders USA, and currently with Circus Flora with their Clowns on Call program. She spent the last 18 years in New York City and touring in the UK, Ireland, Australia, India, Mexico, Canada, the Dominican Republic, Colombia and all over the US.
Marisa Diamond (Basic Circus Arts and Aerial Coach)
Marisa Diamond is a native Bostonian and recent graduate of the University of Michigan. Marisa is an film editor and art director, as well a seasoned performer, with experience in dance, acting, and circus arts, having appeared in film, on stage, and under the big top. She also has a strong background in social justice, activism, and education, including coaching circus arts beginning at the age of 13, and she continues to do so with both youth and adult students.
Zach Holmberg (Aerial, Acrobatics and Basic Circus Arts Coach)
Zachary is an acrobat, clown, and Flying Trapeze Artist heralding from Seattle. He began his circus journey under the guidance and care of Jo Montgomery and Chuck Johnson over a decade ago and has since been blessed to have learned from countless mentors such as Miguel Caceres, Randy Kohn, Joseph De Paul, Mick Holsbeke, Les Petites Freres, Terry Crane, Paul Peterson, Jacob Skeffington and Faith Kim etc. Teaching has taken him coast to coast to such places as SANCA -school of acrobatics and new circus arts, in Seattle and the Circus Warehouse in NYC. His more recent adventures have involved touring the eastern half of the US for the past two seasons with the Flying Poemas, the Royal Hanneford Circus, and Circus Flora. While in St Louis, he met the St. Louis Arches and gained a profound appreciation for Circus Harmony’s social circus work and its history of positively impacting kids’ lives.
Calvin Holmstrom (Acrobatics Coach)
Calvin has worked with kids his entire adult life, ranging from toddlers to collegiate athletes. Calvin has owned two gymnastics and cheerleading training facilities and, during his 23-year coaching career, has had the honor of training many of this region’s top athletes in USA Gymnastics. Among the numerous state and regional champions trained by Calvin are several national champions through USA Gymnastics as well as placements on its U.S. Men’s Junior National Team. In addition to his responsibilities as head coach/owner of his training facilities, Calvin has conducted regional training camps for USA Gymnastics and acted as clinician for member clubs throughout his career. Calvin was also a competitive cheerleader at Loyola University of Chicago as well as Southern Illinois University. In addition to coaching cheerleading, Calvin has judged for various cheerleading organizations as well as national championship events.
Colleen McIntee (Aerial Coach)
Colleen is a physical educator, 200RYT yoga therapist, aerial coach and French teacher. She has performed and taught circus with Cirque du K, the Kalamazoo College Physical Education Department, Aerial Angels, Starfish Circus, Sailor Circus, and Cirque Astuces. She holds degrees in French and Economics from Kalamazoo College and a MA in Education with teaching certifications from University of Michigan, as well as aerial teacher training from NECCA.
Lucy Muller (Juggling Club Coach)
Frankie Watson (Lead Dance Coach)
Frankie Watson was born in St. Louis Missouri. She has been dancing since age 2. With dance as her major she attended Carr Lane visual and performing arts middle school and Central visual and performing arts high school. After graduating in 2003 she went on to further her education receiving a BA in dance from Lindenwood University. In 2008 Frankie moved to Los Angeles California where she signed with Clear Talent Group and had the opportunity to work with Beyoncé, Britney Spears, Kelly Rowland, Willow Smith, Cee Lo Green, Lil Momma, Nick Jr’s “Fresh Beat Band, and more. In 2015 Frankie performed with the Black Rep in the musical “Tell Me Something Good.” Currently Frankie is back in St. Louis choreographing for studios, competition teams, and teaching at Circus Harmony.
David Arnoldy (Juggling, Basic Circus Arts Coach)
Sidney Iking Bateman
Sidney Iking Bateman is an alumni of Circus Harmony who went on to graduate from the prestigious Ecole Nationale du Cirque in Montreal. He has just returned from a two year tour around the world with the acclaimed Les 7 Doigts de la Main show Cuisine and Confessions. He also performs his Chinese hoop diving act for NBA half times shows! An accomplished acrobat and diabolist, Iking is debuting his new Chinese Pole act for the 2017 Circus Flora production. Iking is one of the most accomplished members of the St. Louis Arches, Circus Harmony’s renowned youth circus troupe. Iking has won the St. Louis Juggling Competition, been named the Missouri State Diabolo Champion and was the first Arch to accomplish the difficult and dangerous double backward somersault. Iking is most famous for his incredible non-stop tumbling passes and his remarkable mini trampoline leaps over 15 people. In his seven years with Circus Harmony, Iking has taught and performed circus arts from the mountains of Colorado to the deserts of Israel.
Elliana Grace has been in the circus since before she could even walk. Her first entry into a circus ring was on the back of an elephant at the age of 2 weeks! Raised in St. Louis, MO as a member of Circus Harmony’s élite youth troupe – the Arches – with additional education at the École de Cirque de Québec; she has performed and taught in Montreal, Israel, Dubai, and all across America. She has extensive experience in such disciplines as lyra (solo and duo), static and flying trapeze, tumbling, hula hoops, bareback horse riding, upside-down loop walking, and more. In 2013, she toured as Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey’s youngest-ever female human cannonball. Elliana currently, she performs her 30-minute one-woman show at the City Museum of St. Louis. Her performance style combines skill, technical precision, and wholesome entertainment values with comedy and Broadway-style musicality and showmanship. (Think reasonable amounts of glitter, but also classic red lipstick paired with black-and-white stripes!) In her leisure time, she bakes, teaches herself complicated hair braiding styles, watches harrowing Netflix documentaries, and voraciously reads mystery and sci-fi books. www.elliana-grace.com
Christian the Magician has been making events magical and memorable since he was 9. That was a LONG time ago, but he still brings high-energy, original magic routines, and sarcastic humor to events all over this great country. Christian’s experience working with hundreds of private organizations and at thousands of public events means you can feel confident when you hire him. Now a practicing attorney in Saint Louis, Missouri, Christian provides professional appearances and an easy booking process. That way, you can relax and enjoy the compliments you get for hiring the guy that had the entire audience in stitches laughing! www.stlouismagician.com
Adam Rugo (Music Director)
Adam Rugo is a professional composer, arranger, multi-instrumentalist, music educator, and board-certified Music Therapist. He has served as Music Director for Circus Harmony since 2006, and has composed and arranged music for ten full-length productions. A recording of his original circus music, entitled “Ascension,” was released in 2015. Adam has also composed original music for and performed onstage in multiple productions by Metro Theater Company. He has played guitar in pit orchestras for ten productions by Stray Dog Theater and four by New Line Theater. Adam has studied percussion from master African drummers since 1991, made a study trip to Côte d’Ivoire in 2000, and worked as dance accompanist with professional African dancer Diadie Bathily for fifteen years. He taught African drumming and culture courses to children through Springboard To Learning and Young Audiences (1999 – 2014) years , and taught adults through COCA (1996-2004) and the Ethical Society of St. Louis (2000-2008). As a member of world drumming group Nuclear Percussion Ensemble, Adam was featured on the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra’s Percussion Explosions Festival in 2006. Adam is Adjunct Instructor in Music at St. Louis Community College and Maryville University. He recently completed training in Maryville University’s Music Therapy program, including a six-month internship at St. Louis University Cancer Center. Adam received professional certification from the Certification Board for Music Therapists in August, 2017.