Palestine
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A Circus School Breaks Through Borders With Panache

Photo by Veronique Vercheval

“Circus in Palestine?!” was the most common question that Palestinian Circus School students and teachers faced when their project began in 2006. But its advocates insist that circus arts are exactly what Palestinians need to surmount the challenges of Israeli military occupation, the destruction of their homes, the deaths of loved ones and a stagnant economy. Why? Because studying these arts improves their physical, mental, artistic, emotional, and social abilities.

For seven summers, the school’s traveling circus has displayed its bold principles to audiences at home and abroad, with a total of over 130 performances in Palestine and 50 in Europe. Shows such as “Last Dreams for Sale” enact common Palestinian issues, including gender roles and sexual harassment.

Now boasting 180 students from the West Bank, the school gives weekly classes in Al-Far’a Refugee Camp near Nablus and in Jenin, and continues to seek scholarship funding for the 95% of students who cannot afford tuition.

For more info – Palestinian Circus

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Jennifer MacKenzie

Poet, writer and teacher Jennifer MacKenzie grew up on Bloomcrest Dr. in Bloomfield Hills, MI, which inspired her to wonder about places with patterns other than floral. Following her education at Wesleyan University's College of Letters and the University of Iowa's Writers Workshop, she followed a zig-zag course that included a pilgrimage across the top of Spain and a long sojourn in Syria in pursuit of the language of Muhammad al-Maghout and Moudthaffar al-Nawwab. While in Damascus she completed the books of poems "Distant City" and "My Not-My Soldier" (forthcoming from Fence Books) and edited the magazine Syria Today. Her poems and essays can be found in numerous journals including the Kenyon Review online, Guernica, Quarterly West, and Lungfull. She currently lives in New York.

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