News from Three Circus Center Alums

Duo AmazonsDuo Anivia

Cameron McHenry just finished her engagement at Zirkus Nemo in Denmark, with the double trapeze act she performs with her partner, Iryna Bessonova, the Duo Amazons. After a few days back here in San Francisco, cruise ship audiences will be the next to thrill to their marvelous act, which you can see here!

Also, the Duo Anivia (Jordan Webb and Onna Dagerman, Professional Aerial Program), just appeared with their aerial bambou act on “Le Plus Grand Cabaret du Monde," Europe’s most popular TV variety show. It should air here on TV5 in the coming weeks. They will also be visiting in San Francisco at the end of the month.

Congrats to all, and we look forward to seeing you around soon!

From the ED: My First Conditioning Class

Last Tuesday marked my two-year anniversary here at Circus Center! I continue to be very happy with my job, this team, and all the good things we've already done for the organization and the even better things we're planning for its future.

But it's time for a little confession: with all that hard work — not to mention the arrival of my first child in January 2014, and breaking my ankle last December — I let a few things slip, including my personal health. Before I came to Circus Center, I wasn't circus fit, but I was reasonably fit and went to a gym regularly. Since arriving here, I've watched a lot of classes, studied curricula, and so on, but actually training myself? Well, I've taken a handful of classes here and there: a little Stretching with Phoenix, a little Flying Trapeze, even a few handstand sessions with Lu Yi. But nothing regular, and after two years, I figured it was high time to fix it. It's a privilege to work here, so it's a shame not to take advantage of it!

So, this fall, I've signed up for a session enrollment in Elena's Level 1 Aerial Conditioning class, and today was my first class. A few highlights from a really enjoyable 90 minutes:
  • We started with conditioning exercises, some of which were familiar and mostly doable: burpees, jumping jacks, superman something-or-others. In one exercise, we started from hollow-body position with legs together, then raised our legs over our heads until the toes touched the floor and back. Tough, but okay. But next we were supposed to put our legs in straddle and raise them the same way — yikes! My hands had to help my hips up.
  • Some great stretching, where I was reminded what I already had learned in Phoenix's class: upper-body, fine (my shoulders are naturally pretty open). Lower-body, meager. So, that's my starting place.
  • Several of us were new, so we all got introduced to the apparatus and did our first hanging positions and climbed the rope a bit at the end. This really put in perspective the importance of everything we had done up until that point.
Anyway, it was a good class. Because most of us were new, Elena's technical knowledge was tapped very little, but her kindness and encouragement were very much on display, and I loved that. Not only that, I needed it! I'll probably have some weird soreness tomorrow, but I'm already looking forward to next week.

Feel free to leave words of encouragement — or your own stories — in the comments. I'll report back from time to time about my progress. See you in class!

Welcome to Our New Website!

We are very happy to present to you our new Circus Center website! We hope that it makes your experience as a student, audience member, or supporter a better, more exciting and enriching one.

MindBody Integration: Our new site is built on a platform that integrates directly with MindBody Online, our class registration system. This means that you'll be able to perform most basic functions for purchasing and scheduling classes right from our website. The integration is improving all the time, but it isn't perfect, so if you prefer, you can still use the original MindBody Online interface, accessible under the "ACCOUNTS" tab on the menu.

A Better Blog: Our new blog works, well, like a blog should! So we'll be using the blog much more often for updates about Circus Center activities.

As with any new website, we'll be spending the next few weeks working out the kinks and making corrections, so if you see something that seems wrong, just send an email to barry [AT] circuscenter [DOT] org. Thank you!

Winter (Session) Is Coming

The passage of Halloween is usually the cue for retailers to start hanging the mistletoe and greenery for the holiday shopping season. We are certainly deep into preparations for the holidays, including our 2014 Winter Gala showcasing performances by our students, faculty, and community members.

We’re still well into our Fall Session, but at Circus Center, we know our students are serious about their training and like to plan ahead. I’m happy to announce that we’re ready for you: tomorrow (Wednesday 11/5), we will release the class schedule through March 29, 2015. Read on to learn about a few changes we’ve made to improve things. Plus, all class packs are on sale tomorrow through November 15!

Key Dates:

  • Wednesday, November 5
    • Winter Session classes (January 12 – March 29) open for Full Session Enrollment ONLY.
    • To purchase a Winter Session enrollment, you must call or contact the Student Services Team. Session enrollments will be processed on a first-come, first-served basis.
    • Classes between Fall and Winter Sessions (“Inter-Session,” December 6 – January 11) registration open to ALL students. Register online using class packs/credits.
  • Wednesday, November 12
    • Winter Session classes (Jan 12 – Mar 29) registration open to ALL students.
    • To use class packs/credits, register online; full session enrollments will still be available for purchase through the Student Services Team.


Full Session Enrollment (11 weeks)

  • General Session: $176 ($16/class)
  • Advanced Session: $275 ($25/class)
  • Flying Session: $330 ($30/class)

General Class Packs

  • General 5-Pack: $95 $90
  • General 10-Pack: $180 $175

Advanced Class Packs

  • Advanced 5-Pack: $175 $160
  • Advanced 10-Pack: $300 $280

Flying Class Packs

  • Flying 5-Pack: $210 $195
  • Flying 10-Pack: $350 $330

Sale starts tomorrow through November 15.

We’ve worked hard to keep the best of our schedule and pricing, while making a few key changes that we believe will make your experience as students even better: make-up classes, opening Intro to Aerial classes, simplifying class names, and technology fixes.

What’s Different?

Makeup Policy Added to the Full Session Enrollment Option. Circus Center continues to offer two ways to buy classes: 1) individual classes and class packs, and 2) full session enrollment. Students who choose the full session enrollment option still get our best pricing and one week of priority enrollment (Nov 5-11). In addition, we have added a makeup policy that allows students to makeup one (1) class per session.

Here’s how the new makeup policy works: if you cancel or miss a class for any reason (and we still appreciate early cancels so others can get in the class), you may claim a credit for a class at the same or lower price point. This credit will NOT be automatically applied to your account; you must request it from the Student Services Team within one week of the absence. Because many of our classes are small and popular, we cannot guarantee that you will be able to use your makeup on the same exact class or the same instructor. Your class credit will expire one (1) month after the date it is applied to your account.

Intro Aerial Classes Open to Beginners. Effective December 6, our introductory aerial classes (Intro to Aerial Skills and Intro to Rope & Tissu) will be available to all students without a prerequisite. For new students, we strongly recommend co-enrolling in Aerial Conditioning alongside your Intro class, and for new students purchasing a full session enrollment, we require it.

Simplifying Class Names. We’ve changed a few of our course naming conventions to make it simpler for everyone, especially new students.

  • Trampoline now has two levels: Intro to Trampoline and Trampoline
  • Handstand now has two levels: Intro to Handstand and Handstand 1
  • Acrobatics now has two levels: Intro to Acrobatics and Acrobatics 1

Technology Fixes: Waitlists, MindBody Connect App, and More. We ran into a few hiccups this fall with our registration platform, MindBody Online. We have taken the necessary steps to fix these problems (for those who care about the technical details, we switched from using MindBody’s “Enrollments” feature back to its “Classes” function). This switch means that your interface will look more like it did prior to this fall. Furthermore, students will now be able to:

  1. add themselves to the waitlist (no more having to go through the front desk),
  2. see how many spots in a particular class are filled, and
  3. use the MindBody Connect app.

We hope that these tweaks and adjustments will help your experience at Circus Center an even better one.

Call for Artists-in-Residence

Build Your Next Show at Circus Center

One aspect of Circus Center’s service to the circus community is our Artist-in-Residence program, which invites select professional individuals or groups to use our facility to support the creation of new circus works and performances.

Typically, Circus Center will provide some combination of:
  • Space for act creation/development and rehearsal for the duration of the residency;
  • Space for private showings;
  • Performance space for performance;
  • Staff support for scheduling space and coordinating the performance;
  • A locker per individual for equipment storage; and
  • Promotional support such as listing and linking company on Circus Center website, and mention of the artist residency in the monthly newsletter.

Residencies can be as short as three weeks and as long as three months, with most running 6-8 weeks.

We are currently seeking applicants for residency as early as this fall. If you or your company/group are interested, please e-mail Tracey Shababo, Registrar, with information about your company, examples (eg videos, photos, reviews) of past work, a statement about the purpose of the proposed residency, and an estimate of the kinds of space/apparatus you would want on a daily/weekly basis.

Calling Individual Users

Circus Center is proud to be the training home for circus artists of all levels, including many advanced students and professional performers. For community members who have demonstrated sufficient skill level, safety awareness, and an ability to share the space in a respectful manner, we are happy to offer the ability to train here on your own as Individual Users.

This program has existed for a long time here, of course, but read on for news about ways that we are striving to improve it, including:

  • New lower pricing,
  • The addition of new points in the gym,
  • A way to see when events like parties may be occupying training space, and
  • A reminder about how to book space and our policies.

New Lower Pricing

Effective immediately (but not retroactively, sorry), we are lowering the price for the Individual User day rate, and adding an option to buy three months at a discount:

  • Single Day: $10 (was $15)
  • One Month: $40
  • Three Months: $100

Individual Users who are also current Circus Center students receive a 20% discount off these rates (i.e., $8/day, $32/month, $80/three months). You must have active, unexpired classes on your account in order to qualify.

New Points Added

Jennings has been hard at work making our main training space more useful and flexible for aerial training.

One project is changing dead-hung apparatus to pulley points; so far, what used to be the dead-hung tissu has been converted (now Point C). Points A and B, which used to be dead-hung, will get pulleys soon. He also has added three dead-hung apparatus to the beam at the northern end of the gym—two tissus and a rope. These are only usable when the flying net is down.

Check out the new rigging map of the gym below for a complete picture of our current resources:

Use Our Calendar to See What’s Happening

We are working on bringing back the ability for Individual Users to reserve training space online, but for the time being, you must contact the Student Services Team by phone (415-759-8123) or e-mail ( to book training time.

If you want to see what’s going on first and get a sense of what might be available, you can check the “Circus Center Official” Google Calendar. This is easily accessible through the little calendar icon at the top of every page of our website. We use this calendar to record things like parties, youth training, workshops, performances, and building closures.

Finally, A Reminder About the Basics

To become an Individual User:

  • Fill out an Individual User Application (available here or in hard copy at the front desk)
  • After your application receives administrative approval, get instructor approval for your skill level in one of three ways:
    • Attend a General level class and talk to the instructor (time in class permitting)
    • Schedule a 30-minute evaluation (private lesson rates apply)
    • Send video of yourself training/performing on the apparatus(es) for which you want to be approved.
  • A rigging lesson is required for all Aerial Individual Users who rig any equipment. This lesson covers the inspection of your personal equipment and important safety practices, rules, and regulations. A rigging lesson fee applies. To request a lesson, speak to the front desk about setting an appointment with Jennings.
  • Once your application is fully approved, pay a membership fee. Anyone in a training space, whether they are training, rehearsing, volunteering, spotting, holding ropes, or giving feedback, is considered an Individual User. This fee is non-refundable, non-transferable, and not proratable for holidays, gym closures, or any other reason.
  • To reserve space, contact the Student Services Team by phone (415-759-8123) or e-mail (

We want Circus Center to be your lifelong training home, and we hope these changes and clarifications will help send one clear message to Individual Users past, present, and future: YOU are Circus Center. Train hard, and we’ll see you around!

FAQ About Fall Classes

Fall classes at Circus Center start today! We’re excited to have expanded our offerings with more classes in more circus disciplines and specialties than we’ve offered in a long, long time – if ever!

With the arrival of fall classes, and especially the introduction of the new “session enrollment option,” the team has heard questions from many of you. Here are a few of the most common ones along with the answers!

  1. Do I have to sign up for the complete session? No! The session enrollment option is just that – an option. We still offer single classes and class packs that give students the flexibility to schedule only the classes you want, with the same 24-hour cancellation period as before too.
  2. How do I sign up for classes?
    1. Make sure you are in the “Fall Classes 9/18-12/5″ tab.
    2. Scroll down until you see the course you want. You will see the name of the course, the name of the instructor, the day of the week and the time of the class on this screen.
    3. Click the blue “Sign Up Now!” button.
    4. You will see a list that shows each date the class is offered.  Any dates shown in red are dates when the class is not offered (due to the center being closed for holidays). All other dates can be clicked so that they turn blue to indicate that they have been selected.
    5. Click as many or as few dates as you want and then click the “Enroll” button at the bottom of the screen. This makes it easy to register for multiple dates of the class in one quick click.
    6. If you have credits for classes in your account, the system should automatically deduct the appropriate credits.
    7. If you do not have the necessary credits to purchase the classes you have selected, the next screen will give you options for how to pay for what you have chosen.  You cannot register for the classes without paying, but if you are using drop-in credits, you can still early cancel according to our existing policies.
  3. How do I put myself on the waitlist? We are aware that students are now having difficulties placing yourselves on the waitlist for classes. Unfortunately, the folks at MindBody tell us that this is a bug in their system. They are trying to work it out, but it’s not clear how long that may take. Meanwhile, our staff is here to help! The Student Services Team is here 7 days a week, ready to answer your phone calls or e-mails. Also, our Registrar Tracey Shababo checks frequently, so she can often help even if it’s after-hours.
  4. Why can’t I see any classes when I’m using my phone? There are two answers to this, both involving (again) problems with MindBody:
    1. If you’re using a web browser: for some inexplicable reason, there is a large empty space at the top of the page. MindBody tells us they are working on it, but with no time estimate for fixing it. In the meantime, this one is easy: if you just keep scrolling down, you’ll find the classes.
    2. If you’re using the MindBody Connect app: The news here is worse. Apparently, the Enrollments feature on MindBody, which we used this session to support our new session enrollment option, is not supported by the MindBody Connect app. We are trying to determine what recourse we have, if any, but it doesn’t sound like MindBody has plans to fix this any time soon. We may be forced to rebuild the entire schedule as classes so people can use the app. Meanwhile, you can use a web browser on your phone (though see above about the weird space at the top of the page), or use a regular computer — OR, again, you are welcome to contact the Student Services Team by phone, e-mail, or stopping by the front desk. They’re happy to help you out!

Please let us know if you have other questions, or how Circus Center can best support your training.

Everything Old is New Again

Sometimes, there’s just no keeping a good idea down, especially if you can find a way to preserve the best parts of the old ideas at the same time. Our new Registrar Tracey Shababo fills you in below on the return of an important option for our most consistent students: session-based enrollment. — BK Circus Center is pleased to announce the addition of a new “session option” for enrollment in all of our classes. This option has been developed to give priority enrollment and a discount to students who are ready to commit to a regular, consistent training regimen: a guaranteed spot in the same class — same time and day each week — for every week of the session. Enrolling for a full session of a particular class will allow the student to follow a progressive curriculum to ensure results-oriented training. Students who choose the session option will benefit from a 2-week advance enrollment period, giving them first shot at some of our most coveted class slots and guaranteed placement in the class for the rest of the session. Enrolling in the session will also provide the highest level of discount available to Circus Center students. Our commitment is to provide the highest quality and most reliable training atmosphere.  If Circus Center has to cancel an individual class date, we will grant the affected students a drop-in credit to attend any equally-priced class. The credit will be valid from the date of the cancelled class until 30 days after the end of the session. If you purchase a session option,your commitment is to attend every class; no refunds, credits, or make-ups are available. If a medical situation arises which will prevent the student from participating for the rest of a session, Circus Center will credit 50% of the remaining pro-rated tuition to the student’s account for future use. If you are a Circus Center student who needs or prefers more flexibility in your training schedule, we will still be offering our existing “drop-in”-style rates, sold as single classes or class packs (though as always, it’s very wise to reserve your spot in class well in advance). We will offer classes year-round, but we will have four sessions during the year:

  • Fall 2014: September 18 – December 5
  • Winter 2015: January 12 – March 15
  • Spring 2015: March 16 – May 31
  • Summer 2015: June 8  – August 23

Classes between sessions (e.g., September 1 – 16, December 6 – January 4, and August 24 – 31) will be drop-in only. Session-option enrollment for the Fall will start on August 15; registration will open to all students on August 29. (The schedule for the September 1 – 16 “drop-in only” period will be released soon; watch for signs around the building.) During this initial roll-out period, students with class credits who wish to convert them to credit toward a session enrollment will be able to do so; please speak with me (Tracey) or a member of the Student Services Team. — TS It’s Barry again, with a final thought. We understand that change can sometimes be both exciting and unsettling. Here’s the truth, though: you never stop changing because you never stop trying to improve yourselves, and neither will we. Everyone at Circus Center is committed to offering the highest quality instruction that delivers the best results for you, our students. As we learn more about how to do that—from you, from our instructors, and from our peers in circus education around the world—we will take that knowledge and use it to improve our traditions and practices. We welcome your feedback, so that each step we take forward will be better than the last. Onwards and upwards! — BK

2014–2015 Calendar of Events

What’s happening at Circus Center in 2014–2015? A lot! You may have already read about our addition of a session-option for class enrollment starting in the fall. But what else? Read on… Workshop Weeks In order to give students opportunities to work with new teachers and try new things, we will offer two Workshop Weeks in 2014–15:

  • January 5 – 11, 2015
  • June 1 – 7, 2015

Productions We will continue to increase the number and quality of performance opportunities for our students next year.

  • “Give Kids a Flying Chance”: this flying trapeze show is a benefit fundraiser for the Tamarindo community in El Salvador.
    • Tech: Saturday, November 15, 1:00 pm
    • Show: Sunday, November 16, 6:00 pm
  • Winter Showcase: an annual tradition, this all-school showcase will feature group acts from participants in our youth program, solo and small group acts by adult students, and probably a few clowns from the Clown Conservatory!
    • Tech: Saturday, December 6, 1:00 pm
    • Youth Tech: Sunday, December 7, 1:00 pm
    • Dress: Saturday, December 13, 1:00 pm
    • Shows: Saturday, December 13, 7:30 pm & Sunday, December 14, 3:00 pm (all performers strike immediately following Sunday show)
  • Youth Circus Show: the Youth Circus will build on the success of this spring’s “Secret Life of Polytechnic” with a new show, directed by youth program co-director Felicity Hesed.
    • Tech: Sunday, May 3, 1:00 pm & Friday, May 8, 4:00 pm
    • Dress: Saturday, May 9, 1:00 pm
    • Shows: Saturday, May 9, 7:30 pm & Sunday, May 10, 3:00 pm (all performers strike immediately following Sunday show)
  • Rising Stars Recital: Thursday, May 21, 5:00 pm
  • Spring Show: Circus Center will produce a show in the main gym in the spring, focused on our adult students and faculty, produced at a similar (or higher) level as Cabaret Metamorphoses. The show could be a “pure” circus show (traditional, nouveau, whatever), a circus-theater hybrid, or something else. We will take proposals from potential directors in the fall, and a committee of students, instructors, and Barry will select the director.
    • Director Proposals Due: October 15, 2014
    • Auditions: January 24, 2015
    • Tech: Saturday, May 23, 1:00 pm
    • Dress: Tuesday, May 26, 6:30 pm
    • Shows: Wednesday – Saturday, May 27 – 30, 7:30 pm
    • Strike: Sunday, May 31 (all performers participate)

Works-in-Progress Showings These went away over the summer, but they will return in the fall, providing students with opportunities to show work in development and get feedback from faculty and fellow students.

  • Saturday, October 11, 2014, 5:00 pm
  • Saturday, November 8, 2014, 5:00 pm
  • Saturday, January 10, 2015, 5:00 pm
  • Saturday, February 7, 2015, 5:00 pm
  • Saturday, March 14, 2015, 5:00 pm
  • Saturday, April 11, 2015, 5:00 pm

Clown Conservatory They’re back! Clown Conservatory will run three 5-week intensives this year, with a show in the Theater at the conclusion of each. Dates:

  • Intensive 1: November 2 – December 7 (Show December 4 – 7)
  • Intensive 2: January 12 – February 15 (Show February 12 – 15)
  • Intensive 3: February 23 – March 29 (Show March 26 – 29)

Camp Circus Center will offer a week of camp during SFUSD spring break and all summer long!

  • Spring Camp: March 30 – April 3, 2015
  • Summer Camp: June 8 – August 21, 2015

Still More… As you can see, we have a lot going on! Still, some things will get added to the schedule during the year. We hope to have one Resident Artist/Company per quarter, each of whom would offer a free community performance as part of their residency here. There’s talk of a recurring cabaret happening in the Theater starting in early 2015. And there may be other ideas that will emerge, so stay tuned! With the participation of the full community, 2014–2015 will be a great year for Circus Center.

It’s About to Get Bananas at Circus Center

by guest blogger and Circus Center Artist-in-Residence Ross Travis  Over the last five years I have been proud to call Circus Center my home. I came to the school after a year of studying physical theatre at Dell’Arte International in Blue Lake, California and I was in the first year of the Professional Acrobatics Program at Circus Center. Upon arrival I expected to learn everything immediately and to become an acrobatic phenomenon inside of a year. As I’m sure you can imagine, I was chagrined to find out that learning acrobatics takes much more time than that! During that first year I would often get extremely frustrated and stand in the corner of the gym or sit in the bleachers bemoaning my very existence. Don’t remind Master Lu Yi about this-he wouldn’t let me live it down for years, but hasn’t brought it up recently and I’d like to keep it that way. Perhaps the reason he hasn’t brought it up is because over the years since my first year at Circus Center I have learned to become more patient, controlled, focused, and dedicated. I have trained Chinese pole with Master Lu Yi for five years now and the school has become a haven where I have developed and refined my work. When I was invited to be an Artist-in-Residence at Circus Center, I was honored and ecstatic to take the school up on the offer. I had been accepted into the Edmonton and Vancouver Fringe Theatre Festivals a few months before, and I had started the development of a new one-man show that for the first time combined all of my disciplines of training and expertise into one piece. Over the last six years I have trained and studied an obscure form of grotesque satirical physical theatre called bouffon; I have also trained as a clown; and finally, I have trained as an acrobat. Never before now have I taken my favorite aspects of each of these disciplines and put them together. The result is The Greatest Monkey Show On Earth, the first production of my new performance company called Antic in a Drain. The show combines the provocative humor of bouffon, the vulnerability of clown, audience interaction, and spectacular feats of acrobatics to explore the themes of captivity versus freedom. The primary questions that the show sets out out explore are: What does captivity and objectification of animals do, not only to animals but to us as humans? And what are the repercussions and consequences of keeping (any) being captive? I recently did the first half of the show at the Fools Fury Factory Festival where this was said:
“The athleticism displayed in The Greatest Monkey Show on Earth is only matched by its insightful social commentary. Ross Travis uses human and animal relations to explore issues of imprisonment, agency, and coercion. The audience will laugh and scream with a smile, but as the lights go down they are left with haunting personal questions.” - Dillon Slagle, LMDA
Building this show is easily one of the most ambitious and overwhelming things I have ever done in my life. It has consumed me. I am working mostly by myself with lots of outside eyes, helping hands, and support along the way. From building the costume to marketing the show to writing the script and shopping for props, while in between finding moments to intensely research everything simian, this project is daunting but ultimately extremely fulfilling. It has been a true joy to have the support of Circus Center in making this dream a reality. I hope you’ll come and join me on August 2nd and 3rd at 8:00pm when I perform The Greatest Monkey Show On Earth at Circus Center. After that I will be leaving to perform the show in Canada at the Edmonton Fringe Festival (August 14th-24th) and the Vancouver Fringe Festival (September 4th – 14th.) In the meantime, I am also happy to be performing my Chinese pole act with Circus Bella in parks all across the Bay this summer. This is an act I developed at Circus Center this year and its been an incredible experience seeing the act grow and ripen under the rigor of performing in the open elements. I hope you’ll come see some circus in the park!Here’s the schedule. Thank you! Ross Travis, Artist in Residence, San Francisco Circus Center

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