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Kidsburgh: Guide to Circus Art Classes (VIDEO)

CBS Pittsburgh / Pittsburgh Today Live

November 1, 2017

Spots Are Popping up to Try Circus Arts as Exercise

Associated Press /Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

July 25, 2017

  “A full-blown circus school has been a dream of ours and we’re now living the dream,” said Ms. Keller.


Iron City Circus Arts offers everything from beginner Intro to Aerial Arts classes to advanced sessions for members of its performance troupe, Iron City Aerial, which has been hired to do jaw-dropping stunts at events ranging from an Earth Day celebration to a birthday party for Wiz Khalifa’s mother.


A recent beginner class, which lasts an hour and 15 minutes and costs $25, involved a thorough stretching warm-up, followed by time on the trapeze, aerial silks and rope. The studio also offers pole dancing, flexibility, handstand training, children’s classes and birthday parties.

Within minutes in the beginner class, I surpassed anything I’d ever done on a backyard swingset growing up. Palms sweating, I was able to hang upside down and then pull myself to standing, and then learn tricks such as the side star, stag forward and bird’s nest.


For me, at least, the aerial silks and ropes were trickier. It was tough to get the hang of essentially tying knots with my toes, holding myself up in the air at the same time.


It was doubly impressive, then, to watch the advanced aerial silks class that followed my beginner session. Half a dozen students climbed the silks as nimbly as spiders, then turned upside and plunged downward, doing acrobatics along the way.​

Now, [Kelsey and Jenly] teach kids and adults the skills necessary to master aerial silk, aerial hoops, static trapeze, rope, and hammock. Though the action is mostly up in the air, it’s worth noting that there’s a lot of heavy-duty padding on the floor.


The thrill is not lost on students.


'One of my favorite moments was going to the very top of the silk in the new facility that has very high ceilings,' says Isabella Lybarger, 10, of Bethel Park. 'I didn’t expect to do it and was shaking when I came down, but now I do it all the time. I also liked working on duo tricks with Jenly. She is super flexible like me, and almost the same size so it’s cool to work together!'

Dancers and gymnasts tend to jump right in. Kids who like flipping upside down on the monkey bars tend to take to it right away. But Keller says they take it slow and easy at first, giving younger kids a chance to get used to the balance and muscle control that keeps one aloft.


'We start everything low to the ground, especially for kids,' says Deiter. 'We start with the hammocks and the silks. It depends on the kid. There’s kids that really like that they can spin and be upside down.'"

Keller says the new space will allow them to give clients a more authentic experience. Compared to Fullbody, where the ceiling stood at 18 feet, Brew House’s 25-foot ceilings provide a better drop for aerial exercises. There’s also more room to teach multiple classes at a time.


Besides aerial—an art form where performers execute balletic moves while hanging from silk sheets, ropes or a hoop—Iron City Circus Arts will offer classes on the static trapeze and on contortion, as well as on strength, conditioning and flexibility. Bored with your yoga routine? Take your downward dog upwards with an aerial yoga class.


They also offer nontraditional workouts like pole dancing.


Once they find the right instructors, they plan on expanding their offerings to include tightrope walking, juggling and unicycling.

Keller believes circus arts challenge students to work both their physical and creative muscles, where they can come up with their own moves and routines while getting a full-body workout.

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