May 03, 2022
Philadelphia is the home of the American circus. The first circus in the country was held in the city in 1793, where just 800 spectators gathered in a wooden ring to watch clowns, equestrians and acrobats.
More than 200 years later, Philadelphia is also home to the School of Circus, the first recreational circus school in the country. After a two-year pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Philadelphia School of Circus Arts is bringing back its flying trapeze classes for children and adults.
Visitors to the Circus Campus in Mount Airy can learn circus techniques and fly off the trapeze platform in two-hour sessions beginning with opening weekends on May 6-8 and May 13-15.
Following the opening weekends, classes will be held on Thursdays-Sundays through the summer. Each class is two hours long and costs $65 for per lesson.
Adults and children are guided during the session, learning to use and explore the outdoor flying rig. Students also learn popular circus techniques, including taking off from the platform, the swing, the transfer to the catcher and dropping to the net.
"This is one of the most spectacular and recognizable circus disciplines in the world, and involves a lot of specialty rigging and staffing," said Kitsie O'Neill, executive director at PSCA. "We have ample outdoor space at Philadelphia's Circus Campus. Anyone in the region can have the experience of flying through the air — kids included!"
Trapeze Director Al Firstenberg hopes to create a welcoming environment for those seeking lessons at the school. Firstenberg helped with the initial installation of the trapeze in 2018 before returning to Philadelphia to teach the classes.
"Flying trapeze is perhaps the most popular circus discipline for new students," said O'Neill. "It is exhilarating! And it's one of the most fun and adventurous experiences you'll ever have. And what's more, it's extremely safe."
Beginners are harnessed in with safety belts and work over a net, O'Neill said. There are no weight limits for the flying trapeze, but the largest harness available fits a circumference of 46 inches at the narrowest part of the torso.
There are limited spots open for the first weekend, as each class has a 10-student cap. However, tickets can be purchased in advance on the school's website. Following the opening weekends, here are the available hours:
• Thursdays and Fridays: 4 to 6 p.m., 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
• Saturdays and Sundays: 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., 12:30 to 2:30 p.m., 3 to 5 p.m.
All participants ages 18 or older must present proof of vaccination in order to take part in the classes, though people under 18 years old do not need to be vaccinated. Masks are required inside of the building but are optional outdoors.
Beginning Friday, May 6
Various times | $65 for single class
Philadelphia School of Circus Arts
6452 Greene St., Philadelphia, PA 19119