Defying Gravity and Social Injustice: A Tribute to Nat Hentoff

On March 17, there will be special show presented at the new .ZACK Theater titled Defying Gravity and Social Injustice: A Tribute to Nat Hentoff. Chaired by Ken and Nancy Kranzberg, it will be an amazing evening of inspirational circus arts and great jazz, featuring current and former talented troupers from Circus Harmony.

The writer, Nat Hentoff, was the father of our director, Jessica Hentoff. The iconic, iconoclastic, author, journalist and jazz critic, died January 7, 2017 at the age of 91. He was a champion for jazz, civil rights, education and civil liberties. In Jessica's words. "Nat Hentoff was a mensch. He taught me telling stories was important; saying your truth out loud was imperative; standing up for others had to happen; maintaining integrity was seamless; words that lead to actions matter. His life and work also had a profound influence on the work of Circus Harmony."

Although he joked he would probably be most remembered for his jazz liner notes, he was prolific columnist and author. Nat Hentoff was the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and an American Bar Association Silver Gavel Award. Hentoff was twice a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. For 50 years, Hentoff was a columnist for the Village Voice. In addition, his writing appeared regularly in the New Yorker, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Playboy and numerous other publications. In 1995, he received the National Press Foundation's award for lifetime achievement in contributions to journalism. In 2004 the National Endowment for the Arts named Nat Hentoff the first recipient of the A. B. Spellman NEA Jazz Masters Award for Jazz Advocacy.

In the words of high praise used by his friend, Duke Elllington, Nat Hentoff was "beyond category." The memorial celebration will include jazz (of course) and performances by current and past Circus Harmony students including Sidney 'Iking' Bateman and Melvin Diggs (on loan from their tour with Les 7 Doigts de la Main's Cuisine and Confessions) and two of Nat's grandchildren, aerialist and former human cannonball, Elliana Grace, and international juggling champion, Kellin Quinn
The evening includes hors d'oeuvres and cocktails at 7 PM followed by performance by current and former Circus Harmony performers at 8 PM. Tickets are $75 and will and support Circus Harmony's work to help children defy gravity soar with confidence leap over social barriers, all at the same time.

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