Can the Circus Save the World?
In a world – and a region – where fear and distrust between peoples lead to insecurity and violence daily, it just might be that a circus can make a difference! After all, what is circus all about? It's about overcoming fear, it's about trust, it's based on non-verbal communication, it represents a multicultural tradition – and its purpose is to make people smile.
The late Australian circus artist and educator Reg Bolton has written about “circus to save the world.” When you see the child of Russian immigrants from Karmiel balancing on the shoulders of his Arab peer from Dir El Assad – you know exactly what he means. When the kids stop the music at the curtain call of their first show to say – in Hebrew and in Arabic – “The Galilee Circus family thanks you…” you understand that this not just another after-school activity. These kids come on their own time (from different communities, different religions, speaking different languages), they commit themselves, and they understand that they have to do what they do in complete cooperation with The Other – or they will do nothing at all.
Circus will not bring peace to the Middle East. But it can help to make dialogue possible by reducing fears, lowering barriers, and building trust. It can provide a model of a shared loyalty that transcends ethnic identities. It can teach the art of taking risks for the common good. It can demonstrate, to a wide audience, that what appears to be impossible is indeed possible. None of these may be sufficient to bring about the requisite social change, but without them, no change is possible.
The Galilee Circus includes kids of ages 6-18, from the town of Karmiel in the heart of the Galilee and the villages around it. Rehearsals are held after school in a school gym, and we perform all over the region for schools, festivals, businesses, etc. The circus has an active parents committee that helps out at performances, and organizes occasional social activities for the circus kids and their families.
Dagan Dishbak, our trapeze coach, is circus director, assisted by youth counselor Ahmed Sanallah; Leonid Tzipkis coaches acrobatics. Last year our student intern, Sarah Herr, ran a junior coach training course, qualifying a number of our older circus kids to join the coaching staff.
The fees paid by the participants – and the audiences – cover only a small part of the cost of coaches, buses, rent, and equipment. Major funding comes from foundations and private donors.
You don't have to run away from home to be a part of the Galilee Circus!
We have found the writings of the late circus artist and teacher Reg Bolton to be helpful and inspirational. You can explore them here:
- What's new and exciting
- The Galilee Circus visited Philadelphia and St. Louis in the summer of 2012
- You're welcome to use it in your classroom!
- In summer of 2008 the Galilee Circus went on tour to the US
- How you can connect your classroom to the circus
- Link your Bar/Bat mitzvah to the circus and help us defy gravity!