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Jackie Davis

Executive Director

Jackie began her career in youth circus as the movement education teacher at the Pine Hill (now High Mowing) School in Wilton, NH, where in 1996 she created the Hilltop Circus for middle school students. In 1999 with twelve incredible Pine Hill graduates, Jackie founded the Flying Gravity Circus (FGC) so they could have their own company. The FGC model entwined performance and education from the start, sharing revenue and including community workshops to help schools from Pennsylvania to Toronto start their own circus education programs. (Jackie never expected FGC would become a nonprofit in 2016!) ​Circademics Impressed by the positive impact that circus had on her teen students, Jackie applied to the Harvard Graduate School of Education to learn more about youth development. In 2009 she earned her Master of Education degree in Human Development and Psychology. She coined the term developmental circus arts to describe the philosophy and practice of circus-making as a vehicle for physical, social, emotional, and cognitive development in young people. Her capstone identified Core Competencies for Youth Circus Practitioners designed to support best practices in circus arts education.​In 2012, Jackie left Pine Hill in pursuit of a PhD at the University of British Columbia to study the impact of circus arts on youth development. Under Adele Diamond, a renowned pioneer in developmental cognitive neuroscience, Jackie prepared to study the effects of circus arts on children’s executive functions. She presented at conferences from Portland to Toronto to a social circus seminar in Tampere, Finland.However, at the beginning of her 3rd doctoral year, Jackie’s husband Rick -- a former Ringling Brothers clown and the director of school residencies at Circus Smirkus -- was diagnosed with cancer. Jackie returned home, and Rick passed away 11 months later. Jackie withdrew from UBC and left her circademic aspirations behind her. She shifted gears to write a How-To circus book, and in 2018 published DIY Circus Lab for Kids: A Family-Friendly Guide for Juggling, Balancing, Clowning, & Showmaking (subsequently published in French). The book underscored Jackie and Rick’s core belief that Circus is for Everyone!  Thanks to her colleague (and FGC alumna) Dr. Jen Agans,  some of Jackie's UBC research -- Self-Determination through Circus Arts -- was published in 2019 in the Journal of Youth Development.  ​National & International Jackie was a founding member of the American Youth Circus Organization (AYCO), which promotes the participation of youth in circus arts at the national level and supports circus educators. In 2020, Jackie was honored to receive the American Circus Educators Association Excellence in Education Award.​She has taught circus workshops to PE teachers as a member of the Society of Health and Physical Educators. Its state chapter (the NH Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation, & Dance) recognized her as the Middle School Physical Education Teacher of the Year in 2007. For several years, Jackie taught circus arts to adult students and teachers at the Spacial Dynamics Institute in New York. ​Earlier days Jackie received dual B.A. degrees from the University of NH in Theater and in Nonverbal Expression in the Arts (her Student-Designed Major). Prior to that she trained with Marcel Marceau and worked as a mime artist for nearly 3 decades at countless venues including Walt Disney World’s EPCOT Center. And it all began with mime lessons at age 13 -- the same age group as the FGC Troupers.​Full CircleAs of 2017, Jackie has returned to the helm of FGC, which is now a nonprofit organization thanks to the vision and drive of founding alumnus Jon Roitman.


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Jackie Davis
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