Jackie Leigh Davis
Jackie Leigh Davis is a circus education pioneer, teacher, “circademic,” and author working to make circus arts more available to children and teens. She was a founder of the American Youth Circus Organization and also created three youth circus programs in southern New Hampshire: the Hilltop Circus at the Pine Hill Waldorf School, the Silver Lining Circus Camp, and the Flying Gravity Circus. At Circus Smirkus, Jackie has coached at summer camp and worked with the school residency program, and at the Spacial Dynamics Institute, Jackie was a long-time circus arts instructor. Jackie celebrates the many people who have supported and contributed to her work in circus arts education!
In 2007, Jackie was named Middle School Physical Education Teacher of the Year in New Hampshire—she loves teaching circus skills to PE teachers! As a circademic, Jackie merges her interests in child development and circus arts pedagogy. She earned a master’s degree in human development and psychology from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. As a doctoral student at the University of British Columbia, Jackie researched the effects of circus arts on cognitive, physical, and social-emotional development in youth. She has presented her work at academic and circus conferences in the US, Canada, and Finland. Jackie earned dual Bachelor degrees from the University of New Hampshire (Theater and Student-Designed Major) where she played a role in the creation of the first undergraduate aerial dance program at a liberal arts college in the USA.
Meanwhile, Jackie writes for children. For decades, she has written or adapted stories and plays for school and camp performances. Her musical, Medieval Masquerade, won the Zornio Children’s Playwriting Award at the University of New Hampshire. Now her first book is out—DIY Circus Lab for Kids, published by Quarry Books! Jackie is available for author visits, book signings, and other appearances around New England. Jackie’s next book will be a novel about kids who need circus in their lives, how circus finds them, and what happens after that!
Prior to all of the above, Jackie was a professional mime artist. She studied mime with Marcel Marceau, taught mime at New York University when she was 16 years old, and entertained thousands as a resident mime at Walt Disney World’s Epcot Center. Jackie’s late husband, Rick Davis, was a clown on Ringling Brothers, Barnum & Bailey Circus and the Professor of Totally Useless Skills. Rick and Jackie have two grown daughters, Erin and Ellie—both creative power-houses!