Bozo-a-go-go: Four ways to get in touch with your carny side

Stay home and join the circus
By SARAH DWYER  |  July 25, 2012


Cirque du Soleil's Totem and the Big Apple Circus come to the city for a temporary stay, but a circus community exists in Boston all year. AirCraft Aerial Arts, OPENAIR Circus, Simply Circus, and others offer unique classes for adults to escape the everyday monotony of conferences and paperwork. These classes aren't about being in the center ring, they exist to help Bostonians try something new, challenge their bodies and minds, and become part of a community. Most classes are offered on nights and weekends or upon request, so never mind running away — you can keep your day job.

Trapeze, please

For those looking to feel a little less grounded, AirCraft Aerial Arts in Somerville offers classes in trapeze, aerial silks (long fabrics hanging from the ceiling), lyra (a suspended hoop), and other aerial fabrics and structures. AirCraft Aerial Arts encourages beginners to take a "taster class," which introduces students to aerial silks, corde lisse (a cotton rope), aerial hoop, and static trapeze. After taking a few aerial silk classes in my hometown, I took a taster at AirCraft when I moved to Boston and was amazed by how much I learned in a 90-minute session. Classes consist of a warm-up, learning basic tricks and techniques on the different fabrics and structures, and conditioning and stretching that will help in future aerial classes. Even though there were about 10 other students in the class, I was able to try everything I wanted and was provided with one-on-one attention every time my feet left the ground. Some of the poses were uncomfortable at first, but there were multiple instructors to ensure that everyone was doing the moves correctly, so as to avoid injury. A personal favorite is the aerial silks, because you wrap the fabrics around you in unique ways to create poses. If you're like me, once you experience aerial arts, you'll want to keep going back for more.

Visit for registration information, the date of the next taster class, or to book a private lesson. All registration is handled through e-mail. | 14 Tyler St, Somerville. Public transit: 86 bus to Dane Street.


Another way to get your feet off the ground is through stilt classes at OPENAIR Circus in Somerville. OPENAIR gets its name from the fact that all classes and performances take place outside at Nunziato Field, Foss Park, and Nathan Tufts Park — weather permitting. Stilting classes, along with many other circus-related classes, are offered weekly for children. This results in a welcoming community where families watch their children practice stilts and juggling just as they would a baseball game. Stilt classes for adults are available upon request, so I decided to take OPENAIR chairperson and instructor Peter Jehlen up on the offer between his beginner stilting for children and his intermediate stage combat for adults. Stilts of all different sizes according to height and skill level were propped against the field's fence, each pair equipped with straps at the feet and padding at the knee. Jehlen went through the basic rules of stilting as he helped me strap on my temporary leg extensions, including "Don't look down" and "If you are going to fall, fall forward." With Jehlen's careful instruction and guidance, I managed not to fall while walking the length of the park. He stood right in front of me to catch me if I got off balance, but also let go as soon as I regained my center of gravity. Even though my feet were a little sore from the wood, I enjoyed seeing the world from above, and I'm interested in trying it again. If I continue to take classes, maybe I could learn cool tricks like kicking balls and spinning hula hoops, as I saw many children on stilts doing during my visit.

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  Topics: Lifestyle Features , Circus, midsummer12
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