Ah, the magic of circus! Remember back to your childhood experience of circus: the mingled scents of elephants, cotton candy, and popcorn rich in your nostrils; the dazzling spectacle of brightly-costumed clowns, death-defying tightrope walkers, and those daring young men on the flying trapeze. Or what about the magic of Cirque du Soleil, with its combination of whimsy and acrobatics, and lovely ladies on aerial silks climbing high into the sky? Allow yourself for a moment to remember the wonder and awe, the thrill and amazement of circus.
Have you ever wished you could do that? Wondered how they do it? Thought wistfully that your chance for a circus career was far behind you, entirely outside the realm of possibility? What if you could not just watch circus, but DO it? What if you, too, could swing on a silk, hang from a trapeze, tumble like an acrobat, or clown around like the best of them? Well, hold onto your popcorn, because guess what? You can. That’s right. YOU. Really.
Circus schools have begun to pop up throughout the country (and world), and while some of them are targeted to professional-level circus artists, many are devoted to teaching circus arts to amateurs, fitness-seekers, and aspiring professionals alike. If you happen to live in Austin, Texas, you are lucky enough to have access to the most magical of arts right in your very own backyard with Sky Candy Austin.
Sky Candy was founded in 2010 to share a love of aerial and circus arts with the community, while providing a “safe and supporting community for learning, performance and collaboration.” Starting with nothing more than a portable aerial rig, a couple of instructors, and an abundance of energy and optimism, Sky Candy is now an internationally-recognized, multi-discipline circus school. The studio offers hundreds of classes per week, in addition to workshops, camps (for youth and adults), performances, and community events.
Fitness-minded folks have access to a bewildering array of choices these days, from Zumba to barre, to boxing, to aerobics classes taught on giant, spring-loaded shoes. This is great news for beginners looking for a fun way to get in shape, as well as fitness fiends always looking for something new and different. While Sky Candy definitely offers a great path to fitness, it also serves as a gathering place and community center for students who tend to become quite devoted to circus arts. It is not at all unusual for students to start with a class or two a week, and find themselves practically living at the studio, with so many classes and events offered throughout the week.
Inclusivity is a hallmark of Sky Candy. Students of all ages, sizes, shapes, and experience are welcome and can find success at Sky Candy. The student body now numbers in the hundreds and ranges in age from 6 to 60’s (and beyond!). The studio counts among its regular students some with physical disabilities, including vision and hearing loss. New students are often concerned that they don’t have “the upper body strength” to participate, but with a variety of conditioning and beginner classes available, students who want to progress are able to do so at their own pace. The studio is also committed to providing a welcoming and safe space for all, and students who arrive nervous and unsure find themselves welcomed with open arms and encouragement from instructors and other students.
Some students train solely for fitness and fun, but some aspire to perform at an amateur or professional level. Sky Candy is host to a studio company which regularly produces shows with auditions open to current students. In addition, all students are welcome to participate in regularly-scheduled student showcases which are open to friends, family and the public. Many students go on to be hired for shows and other performance work locally and beyond.
Sky Candy offers classes in a variety of formats, including series classes, drop-in classes, private lessons, and workshops. Traditional apparatus include:
- Trapeze (static and single point, as well as duo)
- Lyra (sometimes called aerial hoop)
- Silks (sometimes called tissu)
- Hammock (sometimes called sling)
Some of the more unusual apparatus include:
- Aerial cube
- German lyra
- Flying pole
Non-aerial disciplines include:
- Modern dance
- Circus circuit (circuit training with a circus twist)
- A variety of floor and aerial conditioning
The easiest way to dip your toe in the circus waters is to take an Intro to Aerials class, offered several times a week. This class is also available through Class Pass (as are some of the other conditioning and ground-based classes). On May 6th the studio will be hosting its “Try the Sky” event, with introductory classes for adults and youth offered throughout the day at a $10 introductory rate! After an intro class, students can choose beginner series classes or opt for an economical drop-in pass to take the plethora of classes available throughout the week.
Saturday, April 29th at 2:00 p.m., Sky Candy Studio Company will be presenting its family-friendly “Surrealist Show,” with acts inspired by the surrealist movement, at The Vortex theater in East Austin. Additional upcoming shows include the “Big Weekend of Little Stories,” focused on children’s literature, and “Dark Side of the Moon: Pink Floyd Tribute Show.” Student showcases are scheduled for early July.
Only you can decide if circus is for you, but until you try, how will you ever know? Maybe you won’t decide to run away and join the circus (or maybe you will), but perhaps you’ll find a fun way to get fit, flexible, and meet some truly fascinating people while you’re at it.