Backstage Heroes

The Flying Gravity Circus is run by an amazing team of people, including administrative staff and volunteers. Additionally as an IRS approved 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, the Flying Gravity Circus is run by a Board of Trustees, who oversee all of our operations. We wish to acknowledge the following for all of their contributions and support of FGC.

Administrative Staff 

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2021-2022 Board of Trustees

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If you would like to learn more about our Board of Trustees and how to support our organization, send us a message through our contact page! We are often on the lookout for new Trustees, and would love to hear from you!

We would also like to honor our Board of Trustees Alumni for all of their contributions in getting us to where we are today!  Kerry Crow, Nancy Wight, Megan Sass, Alexis Pittman, Constance Rinaldo, Tina Perreault, Brian Miron, Sean Hamblett, Kerren McKeeman
 

Jackie Davis - Executive Director & Founder

 

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 Circle

As 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.

Tribute to Rick Davis 
November 10, 1950 - September 7, 2015

 

A former Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey clown, Rick Davis had taught circus and life skills (not to mention totally useless skills ) to youth throughout New England for nearly two decades.

 

Along with the creativity and leadership of his wife, FGC founder Jackie Davis, Rick's endless support and generosity made it possible for the Flying Gravity Circus to come into being and to continue thriving until today. 

 

Rick had been a founding member of the American Youth Circus Organization, a co-director of CircusLearning LLC and the Silver Lining Circus Camp, and the school residency director for Circus Smirkus. A beloved member of so many communities, Rick brought joy and laughter into the lives of everyone around him. He is so loved, and so missed.

 

Forever a shining thread in our story, Rick's legacy will remain strong in the Flying Gravity Circus Company, and his memory will always be with us, as we honor his spirit by keeping the spark of circus alive and well in southern New Hampshire. 

In Light, Love and Circus.

 

 

Rick's Obituary

Richard H. Davis

 

Richard (Rick) Hall Davis, 64, died on Sept. 7, 2015 at his home in Temple, NH, surrounded by his loving family, after a year-long battle with glioblastoma (brain cancer). He was born on November 10, 1950, in Omaha, NE, to Hartwell and Nancy (Richards) Davis. Raised in White Plains, NY and Reston, VA, he graduated from White Plains High School in 1970, and in 1974 he earned dual BA degrees in Psychology and Philosophy from Allegheny College.

He then attended Ringling Brothers Clown College and began a career as a circus clown with Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus where he worked for 4 seasons.

Following a contract with Circus Odyssey in Puerto Rico, Rick became inspired to travel to developing countries to give free clown performances to any organization willing to feed and house him. His “search for the comic denominator,” which was supported by the Peace Corps and by Project Troubador, took him to villages, orphanages, and refugee camps in 15 countries including Brazil, Honduras, Costa Rica, Sierra Leone, the Gambia, St. Vincent, the Dominican Republic, and China. A veteran entertainer, he also performed at the 1982 World’s Fair, Radio City Music Hall, the White House, Walt Disney’s EPCOT Center, and First Nights across New England. He has appeared in numerous operas (notably Gilbert and Sullivan) with Raylynmor Opera. Rick (also known as the Professor of Totally Useless Skills) taught an abundance of fun tricks and stunts that were the subjects of two books, Totally Useless Skills and Totally Useless Office Skills. Rick also developed websites and created SchoolShows.com, an online directory connecting schools with educational assembly programs to provide children with educational enrichment.

 

Teaching circus arts to youth was Rick’s cause and passion. He felt one of the most important things he did with his life was to help found the American Youth Circus Organization (AYCO) which is dedicated to teaching circus arts to young people. He served on AYCO’s board of directors from its inception in 1999 until his death, and he was instrumental in keeping AYCO going in its early years. He and his wife Jackie also founded CircusLearning LLC, a southern NH organization offering youth-centered circus arts through its programs, Silver Lining Circus Camp and Flying Gravity Circus. Rick was also passionate about his work with Circus Smirkus, Vermont’s award-winning youth circus company. For 12 years Rick was a Smirkus Artist-in-Residence who spent the academic year traveling to elementary schools throughout New England, teaching circus skills and producing student circus performances. He was the director of the Smirkus School Residency Program for many years.

 

He enjoyed playing Celtic harp and competed annually at the New Hampshire Scottish Highland Games. He loved reading, cooking, canoeing, and being a devoted husband and dad. He was a long-time member of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Milford and the Souhegan Lions Club.

 

Rick is survived by his wife of 31 years, Jacqueline Leigh (Eppes) Davis; and his daughters, Erin Evelyn Davis of Ipswich, MA, Ellen Margaret Davis of Temple, NH, and Raya Golden Alexander Davis of Santa Fe, NM. He is also survived by his mother, Nancy R. Davis of Reston, VA; siblings William Hartwell Davis of Reston, VA, Margaret Lynn Davis of Middlebrook, VA, Roger Langdon Davis of Gloucester, MA, James Palmer Davis of Christ Church, New Zealand, and numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins.

 

A memorial celebration of Rick’s life was held on Saturday, November 14, at 3:30pm at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Milford, 20 Elm Street, Milford NH, followed by a community potluck dinner and an evening of music and dancing. Interment was held privately. In lieu of flowers, Rick requested that memorial donations be sent to the American Youth Circus Organization (www.americanyouthcircus.org), PO Box 1123, Easthampton, MA 01027.