Final Update: New Net & Equipment Campaign

Last spring, we ran the New Net and Equipment Campaign, which started out as a $10,000 fundraiser to replace, install, and maintain our flying trapeze net. Thanks to a tremendous outpouring of support from you, our community, we ended up raising almost $27,000 – $17,000 over our original goal! – to support your equipment needs and the maintenance of our historic building. Here’s the final breakdown of what your donations to the New Net and Equipment Campaign have accomplished.

Of the $4,016 remaining at the end of our last update, we have been able to cover the follow expenses:
  • $1000 - Trapeze maintenance since January
  • $600 - New rope, rope covers, carabiners, swivels, and plates for Rope classes, purchased in March
  • $270 - Rescue 8s (rigging equipment) for tissus, purchased in March
  • $156 - Swivels for tissus, single point trapezes and other apparatuses, ordered in April
  • $900 - New tissus, ordered in April
  • $500 - Replacement ropes for trapezes, ordering in May
  • $590 - Order of new practice juggling balls, ordering in May
Total = $4,016

When you think about what last spring’s campaign did for Circus Center, it’s pretty amazing: a new flying net with maintenance for years; new mats in the theater and upstairs studio; new toilets in both restrooms; 13 pairs of custom-built stilts; and so much more. The New Net and Equipment Campaign made a huge impact on for Circus Center and everyone who trains here. Thank you for your support - look at the difference it made!

In part 2 of this post, see an update on last winter’s campaign, SHOW LOVE.

PS: Did you give $100 or more to the New Net campaign? Have you picked up your piece of the old net? If not (or you’re not sure) you still can! Just email Sarah - or ask at the Front Desk next time you’re in.

Spring 2017 Showcase: Call for Performers


This spring, Circus Center will produce a showcase featuring performances by our adult students. The showcase will be presented on Saturday, May 20 at 7:30 pm.

Like last year's LIFTOFF, the showcase will be informal, but nicely produced: the space will have a full lighting and sound set-up, and performers are asked to put some effort into your costumes and makeup. A member of the Circus Center staff will serve as Emcee. We will design and print flyers, postcards, and programs, and we will do our usual promotional activities online and elsewhere. it will be $10/person (16 & Under = Pay-What-You-Can), and we will take reservations in advance via Brown Paper Tickets.

Flying trapeze students will work with Mike Greenberg and the other flying instructors to put together the flying portion of the show. We will take 6-8 additional acts. Other students who are interested in performing in one of these slots should fill out this form (one form per act, not per performer). Our goal is to produce a well-balanced show (not too many performers on any single apparatus) with students who are ready to perform (based on what your Circus Center teachers tell us). So fill out this form as soon as possible, and no later than April 17 May 1.

Relevant dates and times for performers:
  • May 1: Performers must either submit a video of their act IN COSTUME or arrange a time to show it to Barry. Acts deemed unready for public performance at this time may be cut from the show.
  • May 14: Rehearsal. 5p Call, 6p Start
  • May 20: Tech Rehearsal and SHOW: 1p Call, 3p Tech Start. 5p Dinner Break, 7:30p Show Start
Questions? Email Barry at Want to apply? Fill out this form!

Announcing a New In-School Inclusive Circus Outreach Program


Circus Center is happy to announce that this January we launched a new community outreach program offering a progressive circus curriculum for children with learning differences and developmental disabilities.

This exciting new project is an 8-month pilot program developed in partnership with Open Mind School, a private school on the peninsula for students facing these sorts of challenges, and a private funder.

Our expert instructors offering a range of circus activities like juggling, tightwire, balance, clowning, stretching, and acrobatics in a small school setting with support from the school's expert staff. The school administration has been extremely supportive and excited to be bringing circus arts to their students for the first time, and the students have been very enthusiastic so far!

We are thrilled to be expanding Circus Center's outreach this way. Circus Center’s mission is to spread the joy of circus through training, performance, and community outreach, and the chance for us to build an inclusive circus program that any kid can enjoy is both great privilege and a service to our mission. We are looking forward to building on this project and giving even more kids the chance to explore the joys of circus arts.

Thank you to the project’s funders; Barry Kendall and Sarah Bruhns whose hard work made this project possible; Board Members Kristin Urquiza and Leo Harris for their advice and support; the administration and staff of Open Mind School; our expert instructors; and for your well wishes as we embark on this exciting new program!

Kufer OMS

Call for Directors for Fall Adult Rec Show

In the last three years, Circus Center has begun once again producing unique, innovative circus productions featuring our adult recreational students, faculty, and community members. Shows like Cabaret Metamorphoses and Guilty as Sin have played to packed houses and given our students invaluable opportunities to learn from creating and performing a show.

Now, we will produce another show drawing on the talents of our amazing community, this fall in the Theater. Our renovated Theater space offers directors much greater control over production elements than is possible in the gym, and our recent successful fundraising campaign ensures that we will have adequate resources to help directors realize their vision for a compelling circus-theater production.

We invite interested directors to submit brief proposals: tell us what kind of show you would like to create! Spell out as much as possible about things like concept/story, cast requirements, music, crew, production elements, and so on.

Exact dates are TBD, but we expect the show to run September 7–17. Main rehearsal period would take place over the summer, although directors are welcome to hold auditions and begin work earlier.

Interested directors should submit proposals to Barry Kendall, Executive Director, no later than Sunday, February 19.

Show Love Success! Thanks to You, We Are...


Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, to every one of you who gave to SHOW LOVE!

Together, over this campaign, we raised just over $17,400 for Circus Center's coming season of free, low-cost, and pay-what-you-can community shows. That's $2,400 over our original goal - thank you!

Your contributions have made several important things possible already:

  • We're hiring a Technical Director, an important step in our commitment to bring you professional-quality shows and performing experiences (by the way, we're accepting applications now - full job posting here).
  • We are also hiring a lighting designer, stage manager, and costume designer for the SF Youth Circus Show (interested? See the job postings here).
  • We built at ½ inch scale working model of the Theater, an essential tool for designing shows.
  • Soon we'll be putting out a call for directors for September's Adult Recreational Student Show in the Theater.
And this is just the beginning!

Your support reminds us how special, strong, and generous the Circus Center community is. Thank you so much for partnering with us to bring the joy of circus arts to our community, and give a spotlight to the next generation of circus artists.

Besides donating, there's another incredibly important way you can support Circus Center's community shows: come see them! Here's what's coming up:

  • Mar 23-25 & Mar 30-Apr 1: Clown Conservatory's show, The Supers
  • Apr 29-30, May 5-9 & May 12-13: The San Francisco Youth Circus' Show
  • May 20: Flying Trapeze & Adult Rec Student Spring Showcase
  • September (dates TBD): Fall Adult Rec Student Show
So subscribe to the Circus Center newsletter and watch the blog for news throughout the year about our upcoming shows, and how your gift to SHOW LOVE is making a difference.

Thank you - we can't wait to see you at the shows!

Onwards and upwards,


Barry Kendall
Executive Director, and

The Board of Directors, Steve, Sara M, Jennings, Xiaohong, Elena, Felicity, Texas, Katie, Tracey, Sarah B, Phoenix, Fernando, Sarah H, the Student Services Team, and all the staff and students of Circus Center

P.S. It's never too late to help bring free/low-cost/PWYC circus in your community - any donation throughout the year helps Circus Center share the magic of circus arts with you! You can support the circus arts at any time by giving here:

Thoughts from Steve on Ringling Closure

From the Desk of Creative Director Steve Smith

As the news of the demise of the Big Apple Circus was finally finding a place of uncomfortable compromise in my psyche, came the thunderbolt announcement that the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus would also more.

To some, these are just sad but true realities at the level of difficult business decisions - hard to make but necessary. To others, just another news story of yet another shop that has to shutter its doors. But for some of us, this is news that shakes the very foundation of our souls. This hits at the level of who we are, what we do and why we’re here. This is devastating.

For me, these were more than just places of employment. These were the incubators of my dreams;
These were the classrooms for my creative spirit;
These were the playgrounds for my imagination;
These were the places that gave me purpose. They gave my life purpose.

For 45 of my 65 years on the planet, this is what has forged my love & passion for performance art with all the different parts and pieces of who I am - This is what has

And so...where to from here? How do I make sense of it all? How do I unbreak my heart?

    I.    Get.    Up.

I feel the full force of my loss. I wail and howl and weep with grief. I fall to my knees asking why & how and cursing the cruel, heartless fickleness of fate...but, I.   Get.   Up.

I honor my teachers and my colleagues and my friends and my family by not giving in to despair. I salute all those who came before me by not giving up. I reach down into the depths of my shattered soul to find the strength to give this life my absolute best.

And I am painfully aware that this will take more than strength...this will require courage. There is a terrific quote from Mary Anne Radmacher that says:

“Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, 'I will try again tomorrow.”

And so, I must get up; I must try...again and again and again. It will most certainly not be easy...but it will be worth it. Because the alternative is not acceptable.

The circus ring is a circle...a symbol of unity. It is continuous - it has no beginning, it has no end. A great and glorious part of circus history has come to an end, but the circus, as an art form, didn’t die today. It is evolving. It is up to us to pick up the dimmed & tattered torch that has traveled across time and through the ages; to dust it off; to reignite the fire of wonder and awe and to fan that spark into an unquenchable flame that is the future of the circus. To do anything less is simply unthinkable.

And so, get up.

Onward,...ever onward!

~ steve ~

What's New Around the Gym: January 2017

New Instructor: Kiebpoli Calnek!

Kiebpoli Calnek | Faculty | Circus Center | San Francisco

Circus Center is proud to welcome Kiebpoli (pronounced KAY-po-lee) Calnek to the Aerial Faculty! Kiebpoli comes to us from New York City, where she has been a fixture in the circus training and performing scene for many years. She is no stranger to the Bay Area, however, as she has flown in to perform with Topsy Turvy for the last few years.

Kiebpoli is an aerialist, actor, educator, and producer of compelling, politically awakening performance events through her company Black*Acrobat. Read more about her impressive background here. As a teacher, she prides herself on utilizing constructive feedback, motivation, and patience while focusing on technique, form, and dramatic flourishes.

In the winter session, Kiebpoli is teaching Aerial Conditioning Level 1, Intro to Mixed Aerials Level 1, and Tissu 1. Her classes are already drawing strong interest, so we encourage you to check her out!

New Classes

We also have several new classes for you to explore:
  • Bending Backwards with Jim Donak:This class is aimed at developing back bending skills for acrobatic and aerial applications. It is intended to augment the current programs by offering a class that works specifically on the dynamic application of back bending skills for inversions, limbers, walkovers, tumbling, partner acrobatics and the like. This class will include various learning methods with regard to increasing strength and stability, and range of motion throughout the “backend.”
  • Intro to Mixed Aerials: Level 1 with Miriam Telles
  • The return of Flying 2 on Thursday nights at 6:30p
  • The ever-popular Jeremy Sheets is now teaching a section of Rope 1 and two sections of Rope 2
  • The Contortion program under Catie Brier continues to grow with the addition of a new level, Advanced Stretching
  • The return of Xiaohong's Wednesday daytime Acro 1 class, 12:30-2p
  • And more – check out our Schedule page for full info

New Open Gym Offerings and PRICE!

Circus Center is pleased to announce some changes that will help you progress faster toward your training goals. We have modified the pricing of Supervised Open Gym time to make it more affordable, and we have added Supervised Acro Open Gym to our schedule. For $12.50, you can attend a two-hour open gym time to work on your strength, conditioning, flexibility and the disciplines of your choice:
  • Acro Open Gym: Saturdays 10am-12pm under the supervision of Aidan Sigman
  • Aerial Open Gym: Sundays 3-5pm, under the supervision of Heidi Button
Open Gym is a chance for you to take advantage of Circus Center space and equipment, and the rigging knowledge and safety supervision of our team. This is perfect for students not quite ready to pursue Individual User approval but is also an opportunity for Individual Users to work on other disciplines/apparatus that they might not have approval to train on alone.